What is proposed?
Two experimental schemes, labeled ‘Option 1’ and ‘Option 2’, have been put forward by the county council.
Option 1: Dry Drayton Road (between Dry Drayton and Madingley) would become eastbound-only for motor vehicle drivers while maintaining both eastbound and westbound movements for cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders.
Option 2: Cambridge Road (between Madingley and Coton) would become eastbound-only for motor vehicle drivers while maintaining both eastbound and westbound movements for cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders.
In both options the county says that ‘physical segregation measures could be introduced subject to funding’.
Our thoughts and position
We believe these experimental proposals have some merit and could both be usefully implemented. Motor traffic on these narrow rural roads is very fast and can be harrowing for active travel users. However, the proposals are much weaker without physical segregation measures. If these country roads were to treated as one-way roads then it is likely that drivers would be even more likely to exceed safe speeds than they currently do under the false impression that they are unlikely to meet anyone coming the other way. Both of these roads are unfortunately signed with National Speed Limit, although neither is safe for 60mph travel, and they rely on drivers exercising due care and attention in choosing a safe speed. In our experience, such due care and attention is less common than it should be.
However, we do not want to discourage the county from thinking outside the box when it comes to rural roads. Therefore we are tentatively supportive, with suggestions.
Does the proposal meet DfT guidelines?
It is not clear. Making a road one-way for cars while retaining two-way access for active travel can be construed as a form of road-space reallocation, although it is much weaker than a modal filter or physical barriers of some sort. The Gear Change policy states: ‘Contraflow cycling without physical protection will not be appropriate on busier one-way streets.’ In this case the roads are not very busy but they are fast. Creating such a one-way system on rural roads merely with signs may have the unintended consequence of unleashing irresponsible driver behaviour even worse than what currently occurs. Furthermore, simple traffic calming measures and speed limit reduction are not enough to meet DfT guidelines, however they can be used in combination with other physical measures that actually do reallocate road-space.
What do we want to see?
Quite a lot can be done with some imagination. One part could be that the speed limit should be explicitly reduced to 40mph on narrow unsigned roads such as these, and traffic calming measures installed to enforce that reduction. However, as the DfT has made clear, those measures are not enough on their own to qualify for funding. Therefore the main focus must be to consider stronger interventions, such as installing barriers that physically narrow the road to create separate space for active travel. However, this may not always be possible due to wide agricultural vehicles.
A better approach may be to install experimental modal filters on both roads. These would be fully supported by DfT. It is possible to design modal filters that permit the passage of large agricultural vehicles as well as cyclists, pedestrians and horse-riders, while still stopping cars. This would have the benefit of creating a safe active travel route between Dry Drayton, Madingley and Coton, nearly overnight and for very low cost. Of course, drivers would still have options to access all properties and land along these rural roads. The A1307 and the A1303 run parallel to these rural roads and provide a suitable bypass of any modal filter.
It may also be wise to consider an additional option of a one-way system or modal filter on The Avenue in Madingley, in some combination with these options, in order to provide a calmer and safer environment in the village.
We believe that it is well worth it to trial these changes because they could enable safe active travel between villages cheaply and quickly, and provide valuable experience for extending the active travel network to other parts of the county.