This article was published in 2015, in Newsletter 123.
In response to more reports of serious injury following collisions with the Busway bollards the Campaign has decided to push harder with our campaign against these dangerous bollards.
Previous editions of the newsletter have included descriptions of these bollards. The most recent description is little changed over the years.
They are much shorter than the standard bollard height at only about 70 cm tall. They are dull grey in colour, blending in with the surface of the cycleway, particularly in low light conditions. They have four sides with sharp angles that make it easier for things like pannier bags to catch, leading to a crash and potentially serious damage. There are two bollards in each location, placed where one would least expect them, not in the middle but in the middle of each side. This is the cyclists’s desire line and causes extra confusion when there are two cyclists approaching from opposite directions. Recently a painted diamond has been added around the bollards stretching only about 1.5m in front of the bollards, less than the length of one potentially obstructive bicycle. Some bollards have also had small patches of white or red reflective tape applied. This is at a low level, again easily obscured by a bicycle in front.
The issues of these bollards, both their location and design, has been raised numerous times to council officers. It has become apparent that the council Cycling team has no responsibility or influence over these bollards. That responsibility rests squarely with the Busway team.
The Busway team has been advised about the issues a number of times in meetings and by email by us, other cycling groups, officers, individuals who have suffered injury and no doubt numerous others. We are now in the process of arranging a face-to-face meeting to discuss the bollards. A formal letter is also being sent. Thus far the response has been unsatisfactory. Few changes have been made and those that have are minor at best. We’ve been told that the Busway lights should make things better now, and then asked to encourage cyclists to use better lights to prevent crashes with the bollards. This completely ignores the fact that most collisions that we have heard about have occurred during the day.
We’ve been told that other bollard types cannot be considered as it is vital that these bollards can be dropped into the ground by maintenance workers when that they need to access the track. There are many other types of bollards and traffic-stopping solutions used all over the world, including here in Cambridge, so we wonder why these are the only ones that the Busway team deems suitable. These bollards cannot be painted or have other surfaces applied as they would no longer be able to drop into the ground.
We have also requested information from the Busway team about reported incidents. We have been told that four incidents were reported and given the dates.
Those who have tried to report an incident have found the process difficult. Firstly, it is challenging to identify who to report to. As the Busway paths are not public highway the police are not obliged to attend a crash unless it involves a motor vehicle. When contacting the council, it can be difficult to find the right person to speak to.
We also know there have been a number of claims made against the council, with more in progress and even more under consideration. Surely the cost of these lawsuits will soon outweigh the cost of fixing the bollards? And surely it is worth finding the funds to prevent serious injury (or worse) to a member of the public?
There are so many alternatives to these dangerous bollards. Improved signage and visibility, better design, non-bollard alternatives and even nothing at all would be an improvement to what currently exists. We believe there are at least a number of low-cost interim measures that could be immediately put into place. The small, additional inconvenience on the infrequent occasions the bollards need to be lowered is likely to be less than the inconvenience suffered by those with broken collarbones, shoulders, wrists and bikes.
We have now started a website where we are collecting anonymous reports of Busway bollard incidents. We also have detailed incident reports that we will present to the Busway team to show the impact these injuries have had on the individuals who have suffered them. We ask readers to get in touch if they, or someone they know, has collided with a bollard (even if it did not result in injury or damage). We will continue to hold the Busway team accountable until the bollards are fixed or removed.
Roxanne De Beaux