M11 Bridge along the A603 Barton Road

diagram

diagram

What is proposed?

The county has proposed a much-needed safety scheme on the A603 Barton Road bridge over the M11, between the two motorway junction roundabouts, to help with active travel between Barton and Cambridge. The existing M11 bridge has an extremely narrow shared-use pavement with a substandard parapet, while the carriageway is much wider than it needs to be, with two lanes and a hard shoulder in each direction. The roundabouts at either end are of the dangerous high-speed variety that are unfortunately all-too-common.

At both roundabouts, it narrows the entry and exit lanes in order to make it much safer for people to cross. In between the roundabouts, it uses one of the eastbound carriageway lanes over the M11 bridge to create a physically separated 2-way active travel lane (*) so that the current shared-use pavement may become a dedicated footway.

The diagrams above show the changes proposed at the western and eastern roundabouts, respectively.

Our thoughts and position

The whole area is a testament to 20th century highway engineering’s complete disdain for active travel. Sadly, a year ago, a driver killed someone who was trying to cycle at the eastern roundabout. Change is very much needed in this area as it is an obstacle to active travel for people and families living in the villages of Barton and surrounding areas. The Greenways programme will make very significant safety improvements for active travel in the vicinity of these roundabouts, but it is still years away.

In the meantime, we are strongly supportive of this proposed scheme because it will create more space for cycling as well as other forms of active travel, and will improve the safety and usability of the roundabout crossings to some extent.

The extra carriageway lane eastbound over the M11 bridge was always superfluous and served no purpose other than to dangerously increase motor traffic speeds. By narrowing entry and exit lanes and reducing motor traffic speed, safety and capacity will be improved for all road users.

Does the proposal meet DfT guidelines?

Yes, road-space reallocation is explicitly mentioned by the DfT guidelines.

What do we want to see?

The Greenways programme will introduce more permanent improvements such shrinking the roundabout sizes and grade-separating the active travel crossings to remove the conflict entirely.

In the meantime, these proposed temporary changes will help.

We appreciate that the exit lanes of the roundabouts have been narrowed. However, we note that they don’t require drivers to turn the steering wheel in order to exit the roundabout; a driver can take a straight line and accelerate out. Therefore, we suggest that the curvature of the exit lanes of the roundabouts could still be sharper in order to help slow down exiting traffic even further. That will make conditions much safer for people trying to find a gap when crossing the roundabout exits.

We would also suggest widening the informal crossings. We are pleased that space has been reallocated in favour of active travel between the roundabouts. However, at either end of the new path, it squeezes down into the old narrow path before the crossings. This could create an unnecessary jam-up right where people are waiting to safely cross the road. It would be good if the dropped kerbs can be widened a bit to accommodate people better.

 

(*) Horse-riders should also be able to use this facility, and of course pedestrians may as well if they want more space.