Sawston bypass crossing

This article was published in 2013, in Newsletter 109.



Cambridgeshire County Council has brought out plans to put traffic lights at the junction of the Sawston bypass (A1301) and the northern road into the village. This is where National Cycle Route 11 crosses over the bypass and heads into Sawston, both parts of which are on rather poor quality shared-use pavements. There is little reason to use the path on the quieter road into the village, but north of the junction most cyclists would use it because of the very high speeds on the main road, and because the path avoids the narrow humpbacked bridge a little further on as the road comes into Stapleford. So signals will help crossing this road enormously. A National Cycle Route should, in principle, be suitable for an unaccompanied twelve-year-old, which is hardly compatible with crossing a busy 60mph bypass.

Sadly, however, they have produced the most awkward of designs, which requires cyclists to cross in three separate stages, waiting for a green light at each. This is combined with an extremely narrow refuge with railings which it will be extremely hard to manoeuvre a bike around, and in any case there would be room for only one bike, and two bikes could not pass. What were they thinking?

It would be so much easier if they set the crossing as a single stage south of the junction. The volume of cycle traffic is not so high that the traffic flow (always the county council’s overriding concern) would be badly compromised by the phasing of the lights needed to do this. But surely, the amount of traffic turning left from Sawston to go back south down the bypass is so small that a left turn ban out of the village would be harmless and make the phasing simple.

Looking at the bigger picture, NCN11 emerges from the village to cross the bypass again just over a kilometre further south, also at an unprotected crossing. It then heads off towards Whittlesford Church on a recently constructed cycleway across the fields. While the existing cycleway serves the village, village college and the route to Babraham and Abington, NCN11 would be better served by following the bypass all the way down on its west side. The cost would be in the low hundreds-of-thousands like other cycleways of its kind and length, and obviously can’t be part of this scheme. But the desire is there for the future.

See cyclescape.org/threads/863 for more information including maps and discussion.

David Earl