An open letter to councillors regarding Cowgate from Peterborough Cycle Forum


Cowgate in Peterborough from Queensgate roundabout. Photo: John Baker

We appreciate the concerns of some traders in respect of vehicle access and yet in a recent local survey more than 75% indicated they wanted more room for walking and cycling in Cowgate.

We believe it is possible to reduce the number of vehicle journeys, whilst allowing local businesses access, resulting in a positive impact on the area and facilitate social distancing.

Currently much of the traffic using Cowgate does so to either drop off and collect passengers, or park (often illegally in restricted parking or loading areas) on either side of the street from which to access the city centre.  With parking on both sides of the street, together with decorative planters on the pavements, there is insufficient room to social distance when walking, as there’s not even space to step off the pavement, and little capacity for cyclists to travel east along Cowgate.

This is unsafe and there needs to be changed.

We propose Cowgate should have the same level of vehicle restrictions as Westgate and the following changes be considered.

No Entry to Cross Street, except for permit holders (24/365) and loading, Midnight - 10:30am and 4:30pm - Midnight Access for business owners and their staff will not be reduced and there will be easier access for loading, at permitted times, due to the reduction in congestion.

Remove planters from pavements between Queen Street and King Street, to create more space for pedestrians, and relocate them as in points 3, 4, and 5 below.

Place planters strategically opposite the exit from Cross Street to make it difficult for drivers (who may have ignored the Cross Street 'No Entry' sign) to drop off or pick up passengers at the junction of Cross Street and Cowgate.

Place planters strategically at the entrance to, and within, King Street to make it difficult for drivers (who may have ignored the Cross Street 'No Entry' sign) to enter King Street to drop off and pick up passengers.

Suspend parking bays on the North side of Cowgate, and place planters on the carriageway to reallocate this space between pedestrians and eastbound cyclists.

Suspend non-loading parking bays on the South side of Cowgate but retain bays for loading between the Beautiful Truth and Head 2 Head Barbers.

Mark a 1.5m contraflow mandatory cycle lane on the carriageway throughout Cowgate to warn drivers that cyclists are permitted to ride eastwards along Cowgate towards Cathedral Square.

Use enforcement officers to ensure compliance with the restrictions on entry to Cross Street.

Require shops and businesses to remove advertising and A-Frames from pavements to create more space for social distancing.

These changes should not impact significantly on the travel arrangements and access for local businesses and we do not believe that removing a small number of parking bays will result in a significant drop in trade.  

We would welcome councillors to share any evidence or reports they’ve seen which suggests restricting motor vehicles is damaging to local businesses.

This recent publication by Sustrans specifically addresses the economic impact of making more space for walking and cycling.

Cowgate is key to providing a safe outdoor alternative route from the city centre to the stations (bus and rail) and car parks for anyone who, at the time of this pandemic, prefers not to walk through the communal indoor area of Queensgate.

The original bid for the Emergency Travel Funding included changes to Cowgate to enable more walking and cycling.  

Funding has been granted on this basis and a failure to make changes risks a claw back of funding from the Combined Authorities bid and threatens the success of future funding bids.  

As the Secretary of State Grant Shapps stated “….the Government expects local authorities to make significant changes to their road layouts and to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians”. 

We know that the proposed changes will not be welcomed by a small number of individuals but we cannot afford to allow a vocal minority to jeopardise the success of future funding bids, or the creation of safe walking and cycling routes.

Peterborough Cycle Forum