New routes in Romsey

This article was published in 2018, in Newsletter 138.

Two-way cycling in Norwich Street, Newtown.
Image as described adjacent

Having been proposed six years ago and authorised about seven months ago, it seemed nothing was being done to implement two-way cycling in Romsey. However, one morning in April I stepped out of my front door and straight-away saw the shiny new sign confirming that cyclists can now ride north on Thoday Street. It is now legal to ride in either direction on almost all the area’s streets.

Proceed

In Romsey the most recent changes are on Argyle, Sedgwick, Catharine, Thoday, and Ross Streets. ‘Except Cycles’ panels under ‘No Entry’ signs, sharrows (white cycle symbols on the road with arrows) and the contraflow cycling signs are the main new features. There are some white lines and new junction markings, but no movement of kerb lines.

In all these streets there are marked parking bays on both sides of the road for much of their length. There is in general not enough space for cars and cyclists to pass at the same time. Cyclists going with the flow should (as before) ride in a position which avoids tempting a driver to push past them. On the other hand, when cycling towards oncoming vehicles the cyclist should be prepared to stop, pull in and let the car pass. Sometimes the car will stop where there’s a parking gap and let the cycle pass. Since the rules have changed I have been taking every opportunity to ride the routes in the new direction and haven’t yet had a problem, though I have on occasion had to wait some time for several cars to pass before I could proceed.

Katrina says

‘I’m so pleased that two-way cycling is now an option. When cycling with the flow of one-way traffic, I often feel like I’m an obstruction to the driver and sense hostility. I prefer to cycle facing oncoming traffic on one-way streets as I feel more in control and more visible. I have experienced no difficulty pulling in to avoid oncoming traffic and I’ve also experienced drivers willingly pulling in for me on occasions. Somehow there is mutual co-operation -they always thank me when I pull in. It’s a case of politeness and give and take.’

New turns

Turn right or left from Mill Road into Thoday Street or Sedgwick Street. Ride in any direction at the junction of St Philip’s Road with Thoday Street, Sedgwick Street, or Catharine Street. Turn left where previously you always had to turn right. It is wonderfully liberating -and takes a little getting used to! The change in 1995 to make the streets one-way effectively criminalised desired behaviour. This change legitimises cyclists and puts them on an equal footing with other road users coming in the other direction. No longer can contra-flow cycling be considered errant or subversive as the law has now restored a level playing field.

Reaction

Conversion of all one-way streets in Cambridge to two-way cycling has been a long-standing goal of the Cycling Campaign. The city council has gone about it by picking off a few streets from each ward area at a time. The previous wave was in 2015. To those urging change it has been painfully slow, but on the other hand there has been steady progress because the arguments for making the changes have been strengthened by proven success.

When each new batch of changes is published, familiar cries are heard that there will be crashes, that the roads are too narrow or cyclists are too lazy to go the long way around.

Next: de-clutter

One of the streets in Romsey that remains one-way for cycling is ironically St Philip’s Road where it is the sections that have cycle by-passes that are affected. This is a street cluttered with bollards, traffic humps, bits of cycle parking and marked parking bays. I think it is getting ripe now for a revamp to stop it being used as a rat run and to remove some of the car parking, to make a decent walking and cycling route.

At the time of writing Hemingford Road has not been changed to two-way cycling. This is because the configuration of the traffic signals also needs to change, requiring time for coordination.

Simon and Katrina Nuttall