Urgent action is needed to prevent further deaths on the Busway path

Camcycle is saddened to hear that a second person was killed last week on the path alongside the Busway between Cambridge station and Trumpington. Our thoughts are with the woman’s family, friends and colleagues.

Police tape in the leaves by the Busway path following last week’s death.

The incident happened just over three years since Steve Moir, an employee at Cambridge Assessment, was killed cycling home on 13 September, 2018. As he attempted to pass a group of pedestrians, his front wheel clipped the Busway kerb and he fell into the path of an oncoming bus. After his death, nearly 4,000 people signed a petition calling for the speed limit to be reduced from 52mph to 20mph on the section of the Busway between Cambridge station and Long Road bridge. In December 2018, the county council announced that the speed limit would be reduced to 30mph on this section and white lines were also painted along the kerb.

These changes did not go far enough then and they are still not enough today.

20mph limits are needed now so that no more families are left suffering

In 2018, Cllr Katie Thornburrow spoke on behalf of the petitioners at a meeting of Cambridgeshire County Council. She said:

“Based on statistical evidence for the number of people injured or killed per vehicle movement, this Trumpington section of the guided busway is at least 8 times more dangerous than the A14 … This is the busiest section of a public right of way and cycleway on the whole of the guided bus route. At peak times hundreds of people use the route to get to or from the station, major businesses, Long Road 6th Form College, the Biomedical Campus, and Trumpington too … Many busy streets in Cambridge have a restriction of 20mph for a good reason, safety. And this route should as well.”

We know that 20mph is much safer in areas where motor vehicles mix with pedestrians and cyclists. Depending on age, survivability at 20mph vs 30mph is about 7-10 times higher and stopping distances are halved. Busway drivers are not able to swerve off the tracks if a person or obstruction falls in front of them, so a lower speed limit is essential for busy sections where there is no verge between the Busway track and active travel path to keep everyone safe.

We’d like to see a reduced speed limit of 20mph implemented immediately.

The southern Busway path must be widened to avoid further deaths

In 2019, we carried out traffic counts on this section of the Busway and met with councillors to discuss options for widening the path which was not designed for the number of active travel users it currently attracts. With local authorities needing to help even more people switch everyday journeys to sustainable transport, improvements have never been more important.

A Photoshop visual showing how the southern section of the Busway might be widened.

Two years on, we support the call from Steve Moir’s family for an urgent safety review. Local authorities need to carry out a detailed feasibility study of all the options available to increase the capacity of the path and provide the level of separation necessary to reduce conflicts between people walking, cycling and taking the bus.

Cambridgeshire County Council told the BBC yesterday that it would continue to keep safety of the busway under review but that it believes “that overall this is a safe transport infrastructure”. Safe infrastructure should not cost people their lives. If local authorities are serious about Vision Zero – the strategy to eliminate all traffic fatalities and severe injuries by 2040 – they must act now.

If you are sad and angry about the recent death on the Busway and want to see an immediate 20mph limit for buses, followed by urgent improvements to the infrastructure in this section, please write to your county councillor today. You should also copy in Trumpington councillor Philippa Slatter whose division covers this section of the Busway. It’s time to take action on safety and save lives.