Have your say on proposals for new sustainable transport routes to the south east of Cambridge

The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) is consulting on a new off-road public transport route and accompanying active travel path between the A11 at Babraham and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus.

The wordily-titled ‘Cambridge South East Transport Better Public Transport and Active Travel’ consultation closes at midday on Monday 14 December, so please share your views particularly if you regularly walk and cycle in this area.

To inform your submission, you can view the full Camcycle response here or read on for a summary of our main points.

1) We support the creation of a safe, convenient, direct, comfortable and attractive network of active travel routes in Greater Cambridge.

We expect that such routes will be used by cyclists, pedestrians, mobility scooter riders, equestrians and any other legally-allowed user as defined by central government. We remain neutral on the principle of this particular scheme for a busway, but comment on the detailed items that have been presented.

2) The active travel route should be designed in accordance with the government’s latest guidance on cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20).

  • ­The horizontal separation (e.g. verge) between the active travel route and the public transport route should comply with table 6-1.
  • Shared-use sections of path should be designed in accordance with Section 6.5 and table 6-3.
The existing Guided Busway has some crossings that are inaccessible to this disabled cyclist who is using a handcycle. There are also some crossings where his view of approaching vehicles is obstructed because his eye-height is lower than someone walking or riding a typical bicycle.

3) Crossings should be designed to give priority to public transport and active travel users

Both the active travel and public transport routes should have priority over country roads, using road markings or traffic signals with a detection circuit triggered to provide a green light when sustainable transport users approach. It should never be necessary for cyclists to push buttons to get a green light when travelling along the active travel route. Buttons may be provided for those who wish to use them but these must be fully accessible for all users.

Shared signalised crossings for pedestrians, cyclists and equestrians may be appropriate, or separate but parallel crossings for each mode – the important thing is that priority for active travel is achieved. In particular,detection circuits, default green light and signal priority for cycling along the route. Approaches to crossings should not involve any sharp angles, barriers or obstructions and should be designed with consideration of the different eye-heights of users (e.g. from a low-base handcycle to a high-mounted equestrian).

4) More safe and accessible grade-separated crossings are needed along the A11

The approaches to the existing bridge over the A11 adjacent to the proposed travel hub are stepped and unsuitable. Approaches with steep ramps and sharp switchbacks are also inappropriate. All crossings should be fully accessible for disabled people who may be walking, wheeling, cycling or scooting along the active travel route and designed in accordance with LTN 1/20. Additional safe, grade-separated crossings (e.g. bridges or underpasses) should be added to the A11 (or upgraded) at other locations, such as along the River Granta, and especially at the A505/A11 junction.

5) The DNA path must remain convenient and direct for existing users

The DNA path is part of National Cycle Network 11 as well as the proposed Sawston Greenway and is a busy and popular route. It is currently too narrow, but due to be widened as part of the Greenway project, and possibly relocated as part of the East/West Rail project.

Camcycle doesn’t object to the DNA path being combined with the new active travel route as long as it is designed in accordance with the government’s latest guidance on cycle infrastructure design (LTN 1/20). It is likely that the combined path will be busy enough to warrant additional width or segregation by mode (e.g. separate paths for cyclists and pedestrians). Any connections or crossings to the path should be designed with plenty of space and visibility for all users.

6) The designs shown for Francis Crick Avenue are too motor-centric and unnecessarily squeeze active travel users at the crossing points

The designs for Francis Crick Avenue are unbecoming of a project that is meant to be prioritising sustainable transport and look more like a major dual-carriageway trunk road. They will have the severely negative effect of encouraging drivers to far exceed the 20mph speed limit and use the side of the road for Cambridge South station drop-off and pick-up. The width of the many-lane road severely squeezes the walking and cycling space so that there isn’t enough room to design a proper crossing, and there isn’t any cycle facility on the east side of the road at all. This area would be better served by the reduction of private motor traffic to provide reliable journey times on Francis Crick Avenue instead of a singular focus on keeping the public transport route separate from cars. This would free up space for, among other things, properly separated pedestrian and cycle crossings with safe waiting areas of at least 2m width rather than the proposed shared-use area which is completely inappropriate and will create conflict between users. It would also provide space for a cycling facility to access the frontages on the east side of the road.

The Francis Crick Avenue plan view taken from the consultation papers. The badly designed ‘shared-use area’ crossing point can be seen in the bottom centre of the diagram; they force pedestrians to stand in the middle of a busy cycleway while waiting for a chance to cross the road.

Much further engagement and work is needed on the detailed design for this area, including access to the new Cambridge South station and the junction of Francis Crick Avenue and the Busway spur, which is already busy with people cycling and walking during normal times and will be extremely busy once South Station opens.

7) The active travel route should have good connections with existing cycling and walking routes and improve cycling provision to nearby villages such as Great Shelford and Stapleford.

Connections (for example, from proposed public transport stops such as Hinton Way and Haverhill Road) should be safe and suitable for use by people of all ages and abilities.