Consultation guide: GCP Swaffhams & Bottisham Greenways

Swaffhams Greenway brochure cover

Name of consultation: GCP Swaffhams & Bottisham Greenways
(shortlink: tinyurl.com/SwaffhamsGW)

From: The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP)
Time to complete:
15-20 minutes (plus time to read the associated information)
Format: Online survey OR email comments to consultations@greatercambridge.org.uk.

Deadline: midday on Friday 24 March

The GCP is consulting on plans for the Swaffhams and Bottisham Greenways – a route from Cambridge Riverside out to Stow-cum-Quy which branches in one direction along the Stow Road to Lode, Swaffham Bulbeck and Swaffham Prior; and in the other direction alongside the A1303 to Bottisham.

Summary of Camcycle’s views

We support the creation of the Greenways and believe they will help to deliver for local communities along the routes and benefit the wider Cambridge region. When considering active travel infrastructure, we need to ensure that routes are: coherent, direct, safe, comfortable and attractive. At present we believe that a number of small issues, across the entire length of the scheme, are making the route fail against these fundamental principles.

There are simple, low-cost opportunities to resolve these issues, and the GCP must continue to work with stakeholders and local experts to ensure these remaining issues are resolved to ensure the Greenways deliver for local communities and the wider region.

Consultation guide

Swaffhams Greenway

Map of the proposed Swaffhams Greenway

Q4. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 1? (Quy Hotel access road to Orchard Street) 

We would recommend the installation of solar studs on this isolated section of the path to help with wayfinding.

Q6. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 2? (Orchard Street)  ?

  • We welcome the Quiet Street treatment for this road.
  • In order to conform to LTN 1/20 (e.g. §4.2.7 & Table 4-1), there needs to be clearer priority on the exit from the shared use path onto Orchard Street, Quy. The proposed Give Way marking across the shared use path at this point should be removed, and there ought to be a Give Way marking for traffic turning in to Orchard Street as it approaches the redmac here instead.

Q7. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 3? (Stow Road) 

  • The junction across the entrance to the Wheatsheaf Pub should be a continuous cycleway/footway as recommended treatment in LTN 1/20.
  • For the crossing over Stow Road, we would recommend a traffic count during a working week to establish the typical motor vehicle flows. We believe these are likely to be well over 4000 vehicles per day, as the nearest traffic count from 2021 from the DfT https://roadtraffic.dft.gov.uk/manualcountpoints/805351 has the traffic count on the B1102 near Swaffham Bulbeck at just over 6900 vehicles per day. If it is confirmed that the traffic flows are over 4000 vehicles per day, or that the speeds are over 33mph, we recommend the installation of a signalised crossing, so that it is LTN 1/20 compliant.

Q8. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 4? (Main Street and Quy Court) 

  • For the transition at Main Street between on-road and off-road, we welcome the buildout and Give Way markings to protect cycle traffic from NE-bound motor traffic. However, the transition itself should flow smoothly and not require sharp right and left turns, which are unnatural and force people to spend a longer time present in the riskiest section of the pinch point, in the direct line of approaching motor traffic. Instead, the redmac on the quiet street should be extended to abut the shared use path at a suitably gentle angle (similar to what is proposed near the junction of Orchard St and Quy Rd), without cycle traffic having to give way in either direction. Such a redesign would comply with the Coherent and Comfortable criteria of LTN 1/20 §1.5.2 and the legibility and flow criteria of §1.6 (points 10 & 18).
  • The priorities at the Albert Road / Main Street / Quy Court junction should be changed to give traffic on the cycle route priority: just because it is not immediately adjacent to Colliers Lane / Stow Road does not stop this being the main cycle route over a minor road; there is also a significant gradient up Main St from Albert Rd, so there is even more reason to follow the guidelines in LTN 1/20 §4.3.2 & Table 4-1 (to avoid layouts which make cyclists stop or slow down unnecessarily) and allow cycles an unimpeded run up to the climb (cf also §4.2.7). There would then be a good case for increasing the level of Main Street / Quy Court at the junction, so that for Albert Road the junction is on a raised table, emphasising the need to give way.

Q9. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 5? (Abbey Lane) 

  • The crossing of Quy Road near Anglesey Abbey is not LTN 1/20 compliant: while the relevant part of the central refuge appears to be basically square (so has the minimum 3m length in the direction of cycle travel required under §10.4.7 to divide the crossing into two single-lane stages), the fact that it is only 63m inside a 30mph zone (reducing from 60mph) makes it extremely unlikely that the 85th percentile speed will be under 33mph, and so to be in the green zone of Table 10-2 the crossing needs to be signalised.
  • The tight turn off the crossing onto the shared-use path on the northwest side of Quy Road does not comply with the minimum 4m radius in Table 5-7 LTN 1/20, and indeed the turn could not be made by the Cycle Design Vehicle with its minimum outer turning circle of 3.4m radius (Table 5-1).
  • There should be clear cycle priority across the entrance to Haynes Yard. The current proposals include Give Way markings on the shared-use path in both directions here.
  • The 2.2m pinch point at Gutter Bridge Ditch to the west of Swaffham Bulbeck does not meet LTN 1/20. If a pinch point is necessary this should be a minimum of 2.5m. To achieve this, the segregation verge from the road could be reduced and the speed on the road reduced for this section of the road.
  • It is a similar situation for the 2.5m pinch point further up the road, near the pumping station, the segregation verge from the road could be reduced to 0.5m, which would still meet LTN 1/20 compliance, and the path could then be 3m wide. As noted this could also be achieved by realigning the road, as there is ample room within the highway boundary on the other side of the road.

Q10. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Sections 6? (Swaffhams Road)  

  • The proposal to use the existing 2m wide footway between the east corner of Swaffham Bulbeck Rec and Commercial End is terrible. The usable width of the path is 1.5m, not 2m. There is no separation from a very busy road with much heavy traffic, and sightlines are poor because of the bends. This is not just unattractive but positively dangerous, due to risks of head-on collision and falls into the carriageway. The awful recent incident in Huntingdon highlights the very real dangers of such poor quality shared-use paths. This is particularly problematic for riders of wider cycles (such as the Cycle Design Vehicle): there is simply nowhere for them to go if they meet any other user head-on, so a facility such as this is in clear contravention of the Public Sector Equality Duty. Fortunately, there is a potential route which was actually proposed in the 2019 consultation, along the existing PROW (footpath) through Lordship Farm grounds to Commercial End. From there, it would be an easy right turn back to the B1102 and the proposed improved path towards Swaffham Prior. It would also link Commercial End better to the rest of the village for all NMUs, currently the choice is the dark and muddy Lordship Farm path or the narrow pavement on the B1102.
  • There needs to be a high quality arrangement at the south corner of Swaffham Bulbeck rec to allow access between the shared-use path on the north side of the B1102 and the southern part of Swaffham Bulbeck High Street. Most of the population of the village is S of the B1102, and the High Street continues on towards Bottisham, where the local secondary school is. For the route to achieve its potential, serving the population of Swaffham Bulbeck rather than merely being a through route from Swaffham Prior towards Cambridge, there needs to be a safe and comfortable way from the High Street to reach the path and continue either in the Swaffham Prior or Lode/Cambridge direction and vice-versa.

Q11. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 7? (High Street, Swaffham Prior) 

  • For the transition between on-road and off-road on Swaffham Prior High Street, we welcome the buildout and Give Way markings to protect cycle traffic from NE-bound motor traffic, but suggest that the buildout should be made wider, to take up a full half of the carriageway. The transition itself should also flow smoothly for cycle traffic in both directions, and not require sharp right and left turns. Hence, the redmac on the quiet street should be extended to abut the shared use path at a suitably gentle angle (similar to what is proposed near the junction of Orchard St and Quy Rd), without cycle traffic having to give way in either direction. Such a redesign would comply with the Coherent and Comfortable criteria of LTN 1/20 §1.5.2 and the legibility and flow criteria of §1.6 (points 10 & 18).
  • The transition from 30mph to 20mph speed limit should be moved to the southwest of the buildout, before cycles join / leave the off-road path.

12. Do you have any other comments, queries or concerns you’d like us to consider for the next stages of design? 

  • We cannot stress enough the importance of the design being inclusive. Designs which are OK or, at worst, only mildly irritating, on a bicycle, are really awkward or impassable on an e-trike or other multi-track cycle. In particular, layouts narrower than 3m cause real problems for multi-track riders when passing other riders, pedestrians or horse riders.
  • It is a huge disappointment that this route fails to connect with the largest settlement in the region, Burwell. It should be possible to extend these improvements to Burwell so that active travel users within that community can also access this newly improved facility.
  • Despite having a remit to promote more, better, and safer cycling, we also recognise that Greenways are not just about cycling. This further strengthens the case for ensuring that the path is at least 3m wide throughout: it is not just about cycling comfort, but makes the route comfortable and usable by all NMUs, pedestrians, wheelers and mobility scooter users, and horse riders too. Designers should therefore be more imaginative about maintaining the full 3m width even at physical constraints (for example by looking at re-aligning or narrowing the road), rather than just accepting a pinch point as unavoidable.
  • The potential of the route is at least as much that it connects places along the way as for people using it the whole way. There is understandably a view that usage between the further end and the city may always be a minority sport, but there is massive potential for more cycling and walking between adjacent villages. There are a lot of home-school, social and shopping trips between the fen edge villages.

Bottisham Greenway

Map of the proposed Bottisham Greenway

Q13. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 1? (Riverside)

  • The end of the route at Abbey Road / Walnut Tree Avenue needs two improvements:
    (1) At least one space if not all car parking needs to be removed from under the Elizabeth Way bridge because it blocks sight-lines between cyclists and other road users on Walnut Tree Avenue, which poses a hazard for this heavily used cycle route. It is absurd that one or two car parking spaces are valued more than the safety of thousands of people every day.
    (2) The cycle route from Riverside to Midsummer Common via Walnut Tree Avenue should have priority. The relatively few road users (driving or cycling) on Abbey Road and Walnut Tree Avenue should give way to the major cycle traffic flows going east/west between Riverside and Midsummer Common, as that is by far the busiest and most heavily used route.
  • A thank you for proposing to fix the priority markings at the Priory Road junction. This has long been needed, since the vast majority of traffic flows east/west along Riverside.
  • For the narrow section of Riverside between Saxon Road and River Lane, where there is currently no room for a footway alongside the river, the parking spaces should be removed to make space for both cycle traffic and a footway by the side of the river.
  • The section of Riverside between the ‘Tesco path’ and the Equiano Bridge needs to be rebuilt to provide a properly level surface throughout.
  • The existing pedestrian gate and cattle grid at the entrance to Stourbridge Common from Riverside (currently proposed to remain) should be replaced with an arrangement including two cattle grids similar to that at the entrance to Midsummer Common from Walnut Tree Ave to avoid potential conflict at these points.

Q14. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 2? (Stourbridge Common)   

  • The cattle grids should be doubled or widened to allow cycle traffic in both directions simultaneously.

Q15. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 3? (Ditton Meadows)   

  • Cattle grids should be doubled or widened as on Stourbridge Common.
  • It would be great if the pram-handle posts in the Ditton Meadows bridge could be replaced by outward-opening gates, as the current handles seriously restrict even pedestrian use and mean that most users just go through the cattle grid, creating a conflict point.
  • More needs to be done to resolve the poor arrangement around the junction with the Wadloes path and entrance to Ditton Meadows. Even with the (slight) improvements proposed here as part of the Horningsea Greenway, there are narrow paths (in a complex area where wider paths are really necessary), tight turns with poor visibility, changes of level, and a difficult-to-navigate single cattle grid onto Ditton Meadows, all failing to meet LTN 1/20 core design principles Coherent, Comfortable and Attractive (§§1.5 & 4.2, & Principle 18 of §1.6).
  • An alternative to crossing Ditton Meadows could be to re-route the greenway around the edge of the Meadows, on the new Chisholm Trail sections. This would need junction and cattlegrid changes at the end of the jetty under the bridges, and at the path to Ditton Walk / Wadloes Road – but would remove the need to widen the path across the middle of the Meadows.

Q16. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 4? (Ditton Lane / Fison Road Junction)  

  • The portion of the route between the Zebra crossing and the Toucan crossing is designed with inappropriate geometry, completely the reverse of from what it should be, for cycling. As shown, it requires two awkward 90-degree angles which might bring active travel users into conflict. This is because what is shown is merely a pavement, not a cycle route. It is simply reusing the scrappy bits of leftover highway space rather than creating a sensible path for cycle traffic to flow. If there is not going to be an underpass then at least design the route between the crossings sensibly, with LTN 1/20 compliant geometry. Even with proper geometry any arrangement which relies on the existing toucan crossing will fail the Coherent, Direct, Comfortable & Attractive core design principles of LTN 1/20 (§§1.5 & 4.2, also Principle 18 of §1.6). The best way to comply with LTN 1/20 would be to move the toucan crossing to line up approximately with the two sections of greenway either side of Ditton Lane (approximately where the ‘SLOW’ markings on the road are), and do some earthworks to ease the gradients up to and down from that. That will still be far less expensive than the original idea of an underpass would have been, but will more closely approximate the benefits of one.

Q17. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 5? (High Ditch Road Junction / Airport Way to Wing Development)

  • The lack of LTN 1/20 compliant segregation near the entrance to Darwin Nurseries is concerning. While there are clear width constraints to the north of the road, there is plenty of room between the south side of the road and the highway boundary, suggesting that the road should be realigned here in order to create the necessary 2.0m segregation between the shared-use path and the 50mph traffic on the road.
  • The proposed High Ditch Road junction design is terrible for active travel. There is no improvement for active travel, and indeed the result is possibly worse than now. This design asks people to cross two lanes simultaneously while drivers are goaded up to speeds of 50 mph or more. This design is firmly within the pink section of LTN 1/20 Table 10-2, and will exclude most potential users: it needs to go back to the drawing board.
  • High Ditch Road should be a quiet lane, and its design should reflect that, rather than looking like a high-speed road. To make the crossing safer there should be sinusoidal speed bump on the approach to the crossing on both sides, lighting columns should be provided to improve visibility in the dark or poor light conditions, and a raised table could be installed across the junction.

Q18. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 6? (The A14 underpass and Quy Mill Hotel Access Road)

  • The corner, where the A1303 shared-use pathway ends and turns onto the driveway towards the underpass, remains risky and unclear. While the number of drivers using this junction is small, it should be clearer that when cyclists emerge from this driveway they will largely be looking to turn right onto the shared-use pathway. Similarly, for cyclists coming along the A1303 shared-use pathway, it should be clear that the route turns left. Continuous surface colour and texture is recommended to show how the route bends here.
  • The proposed straightening of the alignment at the south end of the underpass is welcome, but even this is not really sufficient. It may require more land acquisition but it would be better for the path to diverge from the existing road well before the bollards.
    Similarly the proposal to ease the gradient at the north end is welcome, but additional improvements are also required here. The turn onto the hotel access road should be eased, and visibility at this junction improved. Mention is made of slowing down vehicle speeds at this junction but there is no indication (in the text or on the drawing) of how that will be achieved; in our view, cycles exiting the underpass should have priority over hotel traffic at this junction.
  • It is also vital that lighting is provided in the underpass itself.
  • The use of the narrow part of the Quy Mill Hotel access road needs rethinking. Our members report that hotel traffic often travels with excessive speed and aggression on this section, and the proposed width of 3.3m is barely more than is required for two-way cycle traffic, without the addition of hotel traffic. Ideally this section should be widened to provide a separate 3m shared use path alongside the hotel access road; if that cannot be done then effective and cycle-friendly traffic calming (which in practice means full width sinusoidal humps) must be installed.
  • There is little point in the segregated shared-use path on the wider section of the hotel access road (which uses the old main road) while cycles have to mix with hotel traffic on the narrower section. It is also unclear why this is proposed to be on the northwest side of the road, when putting it on the southeast side would mean that traffic would not have to cross it to use the retained passing bay.

Q19. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 7? (Newmarket Road and Albert Road Junction)   

  • Note that greenery tends to grow very quickly along this route, especially near Newmarket Road, and quickly overcomes the pathway, so it may be wise to shift the widening of the path away from the bushes and hedgerows in order to reduce the future maintenance burden.

Q20. Do you have any comments and suggestions on the proposed design and different features for Section 8A, 8B and 8C? (Lode Road and Bell Road)   

  • For the transition between on-road and off-road on Bell Road, we welcome the buildout and Give Way markings to protect cycle traffic from NE-bound motor traffic, but suggest that the buildout should be made wider, to take up a full half of the carriageway. The transition itself should also flow smoothly for cycle traffic in both directions, and not require sharp right and left turns. Hence, the redmac on the quiet street should be extended to abut the shared use path at a suitably gentle angle (similar to what is proposed near the junction of Orchard St and Quy Rd on the Swaffhams Greenway), without cycle traffic having to give way in either direction. Such a redesign would comply with the Coherent and Comfortable criteria of LTN 1/20 §1.5.2 and the legibility and flow criteria of §1.6 (points 10 & 18). Also, the transition from 30mph to 20mph speed limit should be moved to the southwest of the buildout, before cycles join / leave the off-road path.

20. Do you have any other comments, queries or concerns you’d like us to consider for the next stages of design?

  • We cannot stress enough the importance of the design being inclusive. Designs which are OK or, at worst, only mildly irritating, on a bicycle, are really awkward or impassable on an e-trike or other multi-track cycle. In particular, layouts narrower than 3m cause real problems for multi-track riders when passing other riders, pedestrians or horse riders.
  • It is a huge disappointment that this route fails to connect with the largest settlement in the region, Burwell. It should be possible to extend these improvements to Burwell so that active travel users within that community can also access this newly improved facility.
  • Despite having a remit to promote more, better, and safer cycling, we also recognise that Greenways are not just about cycling. This further strengthens the case for ensuring that the path is at least 3m wide throughout: it is not just about cycling comfort, but makes the route comfortable and usable by all NMUs, pedestrians, wheelers and mobility scooter users, and horse riders too. Designers should therefore be more imaginative about maintaining the full 3m width even at physical constraints (for example by looking at re-aligning or narrowing the road), rather than just accepting a pinch point as unavoidable.
  • The potential of the route is at least as much that it connects places along the way as for people using it the whole way. There is understandably a view that usage between the further end and the city may always be a minority sport, but there is massive potential for more cycling and walking between adjacent villages. There are a lot of home-school, social and shopping trips between the fen edge villages.

Complete the GCP Swaffhams & Bottisham Greenways on the GCP’s consultation website by midday on Friday 24 March.