Inclusive cycling and local highway improvements

This article was published in 2017, in Newsletter 134.

Over the years, as Cambridge has grown, it has accumulated many cases of poor-quality cycling infrastructure. Often the problem is caused by something as trivial as an exclusionary barrier or a piece of inconsiderate guard-rail. Such obstructions make it very difficult or impossible for people on larger or adapted cycles to navigate through quiet streets and pathways. This poses a particular problem for families carting around small children as well as for people using specially adapted cycles that help overcome disabilities. We believe that cycling infrastructure should always be inclusive of all people and help foster pleasant and friendly surroundings. One way that people can help approach this goal, step by step, is to work on fixing each individual problem, case by case.

One strategy is to apply the Local Highways Improvements Proposals process through the county council. These LHI projects can be brought forward by local residents or organisations, and supported by local councillors. Then, the city council contributes 10% of the costs and the county council matches the other 90%.

Some work has been done in past years by this method, including some barrier removal in Arbury, but generally it has not been used as much as we would like it to be. This year we are attempting to work out how to use it more effectively. We have compiled a list of proposed improvements in King’s Hedges and Arbury and we are working with local councillors to organise the site visits with county council officers that will now be part of the process of bringing proposals forward prior to the 15 October deadline.

Figure 1: Chicane between Leys Avenue and Arbury Court.
Image as described adjacent

We hope to learn from this process and bring further proposals forward next year, getting more people involved. As it stands, most of our current proposals involve removing or changing the way access is controlled onto pathways. Many of the devices currently used for access control are exclusionary and contravene the Equality Act of 2010. Any form of physical access control always poses a risk of collision and harm, so we will look for opportunities to remove access control entirely if at all feasible. Where some form of control cannot be avoided, we are recommending the use of bollards deployed in a thoughtful and safe manner. Towards that goal, we are preparing a guidance document for the safe and proper installation of bollards as access controls that prevent motor vehicle incursion on pathways while not excluding any legitimate users.

In the rest of this article we list the problems we are trying to have resolved.

Figure 2: Nicholson Way chicane.
Image as described adjacent

Leys Avenue

At the end of Leys Avenue there is a pathway that leads to Arbury Court: this is obstructed by the chicane shown in Figure 1. Our proposal is for this chicane to be removed and replaced with one flexible bollard in the middle of the pathway 5 metres from the junction with Leys Avenue.

Nicholson Way

The chicane shown in Figure 2 obstructs the pathway that crosses from Walker Court across Nicholson Way onto the green space around Arbury Community Centre. This is a major route to connect the north-west of King’s Hedges to the Arbury Community Centre, Arbury Court shopping and other facilities. Hence, it is important that passage through it is unobstructed.

Figure 3: Chicane at the end of Ashvale.
Image as described adjacent

Our proposal would be to remove both chicanes completely, replacing them with one flexible bollard in the middle of the pathway to prevent cars coming through. This bollard should be placed in the middle of the passageway, as far as possible from both ends, so that pathway users can pay full attention to the junction ahead as they approach it.

Ashvale pathway junction

At the end of Ashvale there is a connection to the pathway that runs from Arbury Road along the north edge of King’s Hedges Recreation Ground. This junction is impeded by a chicane (Figure 3) but the chicane is on the other side of a set of bollards already present at the end of Ashvale and so it is pointless, as motor vehicles are already prevented from reaching the chicane.

Figure 4: Chicane on Legate Walk.
Image as described adjacent

Our proposal is for the further (northmost) fence to be removed, the right/northmost post of the nearer fence to be removed and the fence cut back to the second post.

Legate Walk

Legate Walk connects the cycle routes around King’s Hedges Recreation Ground (that in turn connect to Arbury Road), via the underpass beneath Northfield Avenue, with King’s Hedges Primary School, Nuns Way Recreation Ground, King’s Hedges Road and Campkin Road. Therefore this route would be suitable for parents carrying children and shopping by cycle. It provides an important off-road cycle route that connects a large area of safe off-road routes. But it is blocked at one end by a chicane, as shown in Figure 4. According to current standards this chicane should never have been built, because as in the terminology of IAN 195/16 ‘it cannot be negotiated by the cycle design vehicle’. This chicane is also a barrier to mobility scooters.

Since Legate Walk is already impassable to motor vehicles without any bollards being required, our proposal is for this chicane to be completely removed.

Figure 5: Legate Walk Underpass.
Image as described adjacent

Legate Walk underpass

The Legate Walk underpass beneath Northfield Avenue has a chicane at each end and is shown in Figure 5. There is a slope down into the underpass on each side. Since it is harder to cycle up a slope, particularly from a stationary position, these chicanes make the underpass very unattractive. It’s especially difficult for people using larger-sized cycles such as box bikes, tricycles or adapted recumbent cycles. As a result, most people shun the underpass, giving it an isolated and dangerous feeling that further depresses usage.

Our proposal is to remove both chicanes in order to make the passage much more attractive and usable by everyone.

Arden Road to Nuns Way Recreation Ground

Left: Figure 6: Chicane at the end of the path from Arden Road to Nuns Way Recreation Ground (looking north). Right:Figure 7: Ramsden Square pram-handle bollards block passage for prams.
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent

There is a pathway that connects Arden Road to Nuns Way Recreation Ground. At the Recreation Ground end there is a chicane as shown in Figure 6.

Our proposal is for this chicane to be removed and replaced with one flexible bollard in the middle of the passageway (as far as possible from both ends).

Ramsden Square bollards

There is a cycle path that runs from Ramsden Square to Campkin Road: the entrance to it in Ramsden Square is shown in Figure 7. The pram-handle bollards on this entrance are an obstacle for many people riding cycles, mobility scooters or pushing prams (see Figure 8). Some people manage to lift their bicycle over the obstruction, but not everyone can do so. Towards the Campkin Road end of the path there are further bollards as shown in Figure 9. This path is sufficiently narrow at other points that it would impassable to motor vehicles without any bollards.

Left: Figure 8: No way to get through from Campkin Road into Ramsden Square. Right: Figure 9: Bollards at Campkin Road end of the pathway to Ramsden Square.
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent

Our proposal is for all the bollards to be completely removed so that it is accessible to all people walking or cycling.

Daniel Thomas and Matthew Danish