Before becoming known as a cycle-friendly city, Cambridge banned biking in the 90sVarsity Archives

Despite the continued grumblings by Camfessers (and my grandad) about the irresponsible nature of Cambridge cyclists, it astounded me to discover that, in the 1990s, Cambridgeshire Country Council went so far as to ban cycling in central Cambridge. The Scheme proposed by the County Council in 1990 saw cyclists required to get off their bikes and push in the central ‘triangle’ between Trinity St, Sidney St and Market St.

Town and Gown uproar ensued, with one student calling it “an absolute nightmare,” and a City Councillor calling it “a draconian scheme”. It eventually turned into a bitter dispute between the city and county Councils, with MPs even proposing motions in parliament against the ban.


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Cambridge students, however, did not take this lying down, the Student’s Union helped to organise a “bicycle push” slow protest around the city centre to demonstrate the inefficiency of the new system. This march received considerable student and non-student support, even seeing international media coverage. The Socialist Workers Party endorsed the protests, reportedly denying the protest was a bourgeois distraction and claiming that the bike ban was “part of the Tory onslaught against the working people”.

The anti-cyclists were not so impressed with the protest’s Just Stop Oil-esque tactics, with one passerby saying: “Students run you down. They’re rude and irresponsible.” In the end, the ban was abolished by the mid-1990s, in no small part due to the persistent campaigning of the Student Union, something I believe many would like to see return.