Light the Busway

This article was published in 2014, in Newsletter 117.

Use of the path adjacent to the Busway by both those on foot and on cycles has grown quickly from day one. Especially on the southern section use will also increase with further housing, both under construction and proposed, and other developments on the Addenbrooke’s site.

The Busway at dusk.
Image as described adjacent

Spending monies from development gain was proposed for lighting this path at a county council committee in June, but a decision to proceed was deferred. In part this was because costs exceeded earlier estimates, but in part due to the nature of such decisions by a committee where the majority of members are unlikely to cycle within Cambridge. One committee member even went so far as to say that as we survived the last war with a blackout, why should cycle routes be lit? In fact 50,000 civilians were killed on our roads during the Second World War.

The proposal returned again in October, again with officer support. This time the Campaign wrote a strong letter of support for the scheme, and two local councillors, not on the committee, together with myself representing the Campaign, spoke in support. This time opposition was limited, and the project will go ahead. I was concerned that lighting the Addenbrooke’s spur was dropped on cost grounds, and because it was thought that ‘spill over’ lighting from adjacent developments would be sufficient. I think this is an error, and that it will need to be lit later.

It is very disappointing that, because of the earlier deferment, the thousand or so who walk or cycle this route regularly will suffer another winter without lighting. It is unreasonable to expect all those who walk these routes to wear high-visibility clothing or carry lights. It is also unreasonable to expect many who have personal safety issues to walk or cycle in the dark. What makes such routes especially difficult in the dark is the high contrast in light level. You can go from an area with overspill lighting from an adjacent car park to an area shaded by overhanging trees, or from a well-lit bus stop to a dark cutting.

Lighting these routes should enable many more people to use this route feeling confident that they are safe, hence reducing the use of cars for short trips.

Jim Chisholm