There’s an online resource called Zap Map, which shows you the charging points for electric vehicles across the country. As you’d expect, in Cambridge they’re concentrated around the futuristic CB1 development which has attracted some of the biggest names in tech to set up business. This area also has peerless cycling facilities as part of the package, a wonderful open station square, and is an example to the world of how a city can promote sustainable transport.
Only kidding. Reality is nothing like this.
The number of charging points for electric vehicles in the area appears to be zero. The square full of taxis is an unpleasant and confusing place to negotiate for anyone. The cycle park under the new One Station Square building requires users to use a steep slope alongside three flights of stairs and pass through fire doors, making it useless to owners of heavy or bulky bikes, such as electric, cargo or trailer bikes.
It’s almost as if a deliberate effort has been made to put off every mode of transport which we should be encouraging.
Of course, that can’t be the case, so we can only put these mistakes down to incompetence, cost-cutting or both. The likes of Microsoft and Amazon, Carter Jonas, Deloitte, Thales etc. deserve better. I’ve heard stories of staff at these companies having to make extraordinary efforts to do the right thing, yet eventually giving up. We now know about employees with electric bikes, cargo bikes or trailers unable to use the bike park, and how building management specifically blocked them from using the car ramp as their only option. The only alternative has been parking further away in a less secure area, which requires carrying and using multiple heavy high security locks. Some have had to give up cycling to work.
Remember, every cyclist is one more car off the road, reducing motor traffic congestion and making a small improvement to our air quality. Every electric vehicle driver is doing what they can too. The little guys want to make a difference, but even some of the highest profile, most progressive tech employers in the world aren’t able to help them do so. Why are we not demanding that property developers do better?
This article was first published in the Cambridge Independent on 29 November 2017.