As reported in Newsletter 121, the Madingley Road/A1303 corridor is the first Greater Cambridge City Deal scheme to go to consultation, as part of a wider Cambourne to Cambridge bus priority scheme.
The alternative options for the section east of the A428/A1303 roundabout are:
1a a dedicated inbound bus lane along the current route from the Madingley Mulch (A428) roundabout to Lady Margaret Road (£18m)
1b a new dedicated bus route that loops north, around the American Cemetery, and rejoins the A1303 west of the M11, and continues as a segregated bus lane to Lady Margaret Road (£20m)
1c a new dedicated bus route running north of Coton and parallel to Madingley Road to Grange Road, with a connection to the West Cambridge University site (£67m).
All three options include a new Park & Ride facility at the A428/A1303 roundabout and traffic lights on the roundabout to give priority to buses.
Madingley Road bus lanes: no room for cycling?
The problem with options 1a and 1b is that they require space on Madingley Road for a bus lane, when much of Madingley Road only has room for the current two lanes of traffic. This would rule out improving walking and cycling on Madingley Road just at the time that the North West Cambridge development, promoting sustainable principles and low car-use, will generate thousands of new daily walking and cycling journeys. It even seems possible that some of the existing, poor, shared-use facilities might have to be reduced, with people on bikes forced to use the bus lane.
The Coton Path, while a good facility, is already reaching capacity, and is useless for journeys between the north of Cambridge and West Cambridge. The existence of the Coton Path does not remove the need to walk and cycle along Madingley Road.
An inbound bus lane also does nothing to improve outbound travel in the evening peak which, while less problematic than the morning peak, still regularly results in slow and unreliable bus journeys.
A new route?
1c is the most radical option and the most expensive, but does bypass all congestion on existing roads and provide a solution in both directions. This would leave open the option to enhance the walking and cycling facilities along Madingley Road, such as separating walking and cycling, and dedicated cycle lanes. However, this route is strongly opposed by residents because of the potential effect on the West Fields and Coton village.
Opposition to option 1c, and general dissatisfaction with the failure of the proposals to address larger issues of congestion and road management, have resulted in rival options from other sources.
CambridgeBOLD (cambridgebold.org), headed by Councillor Francis Burkitt (South Cambridgeshire, Barton district) has been carrying out a from-the-ground-up process involving local stakeholders in drawing up a comprehensive set of proposals. These are intended to improve bus reliability and cycling links, without building a busway across the West Fields.
Better City Deal (bettercitydeal.com), headed by Edward Leigh, is developing a solution to the wider issue of congestion across the whole Greater Cambridge area and proposes a raft of measures intended to work together to improve transport for all. This would render dedicated bus lane schemes within the city unnecessary, and allow space to separate walking, cycling and motor traffic in the urban area. (Edward Leigh writes about Better City Deal in the next article.)
Madingley Road residents have drawn up an alternative bus route from east of the M11, running through and around the West Cambridge University site, joining Grange Road just north of the University Rugby Club grounds.
These schemes are potentially complementary and involve wider participation, and ideas that have not been openly addressed by the councils under the City Deal. The consultation is due to run from 12 October to 23 November 2015. Keep an eye on www.gccitydeal.co.uk/cambourne-tocambridge to contribute to shaping the City Deal.
The Campaign believes it is best to reject all the proposals and recommend instead that the City Deal board seeks a solution that is positively transformational in the long term, and promotes active travel.