Problems on Trumpington Road

As you can see from our recent Newsletter article, things have not gone well with the County Council’s project to build a better cycle track along Trumpington Road. This is part of the wider project of bus priority measures to allow the new Park and Ride site to work.

Ninety-nine percent finished?

It’s now time to have a relaxing cycle ride along the new path into town. Only one section of pimple slabs remains to be laid, near to the Brooklands Avenue junction, as well as some corduroy slabs near Long Road. There are long sections of high quality surface just wide enough for two cycles to pass, although overtaking safely will normally need a friendly ring on a bell.

The Cycling Campaign is compiling a list of faults and problems to forward to the County Council. If you have any comments about substandard work or obvious errors in construction, please contact us. The apparent stopping of the route just short of Chaucer Road with ‘shared use ENDS’ signs is an acknowledged error.

In January 2002 a more formal Audit of the route will be conducted. This will look at the route in general, looking at whether objectives have been achieved. Would the cycle route from the M11 be better if it followed the ‘Bus By-pass’ route through the Park and Ride Site? The Cycling Campaign will have an input to this process, so again comments are welcomed.

“It’s an ill wind that blows nobody any good.” One benefit of the problems here is that the County Council are considering compiling and issuing ‘Guidelines’ for contractors working in areas with significant volumes of ‘vulnerable users’. National guidelines are issued for roadworks which give suggested signing and details for temporary works, but these take little account of routes with heavy cycle flows. We hope that mistakes here will save others from the sort of miseries the Trumpington Road users have suffered for six months.

Cycling Campaign activity

Twice prior to this stage, the Cycling Campaign has nearly issued damning Press Releases. Although County Council officers must ultimately have the responsibility, it is clear that the Consulting Engineers (WS Atkins) and Contractors have not been doing their jobs effectively. Jim Chisholm has had eleven replies to e-mails from the County Council project officer, Richard Preston, and six from local Councillor, Anne Kent, but only one from WS Atkins.

Jim has had site meetings twice with WS Atkins, and now twice with Richard Preston. He has also seen Richard Preston inspecting works twice, and stopped and exchanged views in a friendly manner (unlike exchanges with contractors!).

Phone calls to Health and Safety Executive produced some improvements, and after a struggle Jim found the right person at 24Seven (the Electricity Utility), who had a badly filled and surfaced trench fixed in 36 hours.

It is clear that the Authorities should not expect Cycling Campaign members to ‘progress chase’ problems, but that is what has appeared to happen. Contractors and Consultants must respect that cycling and walking are important modes, and that works must be scheduled and managed to minimise disruptions in the same way as is done for motor traffic.

The Campaign has worked hard to try and get many issues resolved, and a number of people have put in much time. We do not seem to have had much success.

The state of play at the end of November

Although in the last week of November 2001 – before formal introduction of bus lanes in Trumpington Rd – much of the final surface on the segregated cycle path has been laid, it is still unusable because of random obstructions by contractors, forcing cyclists to use the busy 3.0m motor traffic lane.

Narrow path Here the cycle section of the path is laid too narrow (1.35metres). The change of orientation of ‘corduroy’ slabs should delineate the change from pedestrian to cycle path. On-road lanes have been narrowed to 3.0 metres, yet the cycle path is not wide enough for even two opposing cyclists to pass.
The raised ‘ironwork’ of manholes presents a great danger to cyclists especially in the dark or when wet. This has been here for two months despite complaints. Note the other obstructions, including a redundant equipment box and lighting column. Exposed manhole ironwork
Poor surface This section has had an appalling surface for months. Sections have been ‘cold planed’ or roughly patched leaving a rough and uneven surface. When the adjacent road was cold planed, however, the surface was renewed within a week. Note lighting column obstructing path.
These slabs and a section of final footway are completed but the rest has remained incomplete for many weeks. There are no other works required here, so it is difficult to understand why cyclists and pedestrians have to endure a two-inch drop and upstand. Incomplete work