Member’s Report: Daily parking wars make Red Cross Lane dangerous

This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 146.

Image as described adjacent

Last year, after returning from a gap year, I began looking for science-related laboratory work. I have loved Cambridge since I came as a toddler to the University’s science and other festivals, and positions were available here. I decided to move to Cambridge with my family, and we found a nice house close to lots of jobs. Then I thought ‘ah hah, I may finally be able to learn to cycle’! I had been taught when I was a teenager but I have hypermobility and dyspraxia, which has complicated things so far.

Cambridge has turned out to be the right choice in so many ways, with great neighbours who are now family friends, and a lovely community. Sadly, the only real drawback is anti-social behaviour on the local roads. It’s especially difficult when trying to walk or use a wheelchair or mobility scooter safely on the pavements. Biomedical Campus staff wait in their cars with engines running from 6.40 to 7.40am on Red Cross Lane down to Greenlands, covering the pavements and the double yellow lines. The first one in the ‘queue’ speeds over to any parking space as soon as one becomes available. If an unsuspecting driver comes onto the road and takes that space, then a big row ensues. One week the police had to be called three times. The worst time is usually before 8am, but it can happen at any time of day. It’s dangerous for people walking or cycling here, and it especially affects children and people with disabilities.

Red Cross Lane and Greenlands are marked for 20mph and they’re very narrow streets barely two cars wide. In addition, this is supposed to be a main cycle route to the Biomedical Campus, there is a designated footpath to the nature area, and there are plans to increase the number of people cycling here and via Greenlands to Nine Wells. Many children use these roads for cycling to school.

One recent morning I watched as children, young people, and parents with children on their cycles or in buggies, tried to walk or cycle up the road but got stuck. Then they tried to get on the pavement and could not do that safely either. Drivers were queuing, arguing or racing around the road.

I’ve attempted to help change things. As a result, drivers have tried to run me over, given us abuse, hemmed my mum’s car in on the street, put cigarettes out on our house, and thrown rubbish at us. It’s a mild hassle at the moment, but we do not want it to get worse. After a year of making police incident reports, we wonder who has the authority to do anything?

I talk to everyone and I try to resolve things. Sometimes it gets better for a few weeks, sometimes not. It always reverts to the same old bad behaviour, and it is incredibly distressing. My immediate neighbours are wonderful, kind, supportive and just lovely and I need to be here for my great job just two minutes away. It is a place I would like to be able to stay for the long term and I would love to be able to learn to cycle again, if only the roads were not so dangerous.

Imogene Blackburn-Horgan