Contrary crossings

This article was published in 2018, in Newsletter 138.

I was pleased to see Bev Nicolson’s call in Newsletter 137 for people to join her in campaigning for pedestrian facilities. It reminded me once again that there’s a quick way for the county council to show that it does want to help pedestrians and cyclists. That would be for it to change the timings on the city’s Pelican and Toucan crossings so that they don’t make people wait for so long before they can cross. At the moment, of course, the official view is that pedestrians and cyclists should be made to wait for 30 seconds (unless there’s a gap in the motor traffic) for the general good, because changing the lights sooner would supposedly cause traffic congestion at nearby junctions. I’m not sure that’s true, and in any case I take the view that congestion is caused by people choosing to drive rather than to walk or cycle, and that these active modes of travel need to be encouraged.

One of the worst examples that I frequently encounter is the crossing of Hills Road at the junction with Bateman Street. Recently, the crossing on Trumpington Road at the other end of Bateman Street was moved, and this has created a much better walking and cycling route to the station. I did hope that there would be a shorter wait for the green phase for pedestrians and cyclists -but not a bit of it! Cars still rule, despite the huge need to encourage active travel towards the station and the area’s schools.

On the other hand, the pedestrian crossing of Lensfield Road at the Faculty of Chemistry needs adjusting in the other direction, so that drivers and cyclists on the road don’t have to wait such an absurdly long time after the pedestrians have all crossed. At least we’re not in King’s Lynn, where the crossing of London Road by the Richardson’s Cycles shop makes pedestrians wait for a couple of minutes.

And while I’m in rant mode, what about the potholes? I was in Norwich last week and cycling was a pleasure (even though I did about twelve miles on a Brompton) because the roads were in good condition. Cambridge is a disaster area at the moment, and I sometimes feel close to giving up on reporting potholes via

Tim Burford