Cambridge-wide cycleways

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 17.

It is ironic that this should be the title of a series of plans produced by the County Council covering cycle track proposals in southern Cambridgeshire, since they include the same narrow reconstructed or newly-constructed paths between towns and villages as we have seen slightly closer to home. One proposal in the Swavesey area suggests 1.5 m alongside a road.

We remain of the opinion that these constructions don’t give good value for money. Nevertheless there are some links that would be useful. The plans included

  • a link away from roads between Swavesey and Fen Drayton
  • linking Swavesey with Over
  • links between Huntingdon, Wyton and Houghton
  • a particularly useful link between Whittlesford and Sawston. This latter is impenetrable at the moment because of railway and river.

Further north, things have ground to a halt a bit. An application for Government funds for a Fens cycle package in conjunction with Norfolk County Council was turned down. However there is some European money available, and there are hints that another bid this year may be successful, so more planning on the scheme is to go ahead on a small scale to keep it alive for now.

Closer to home

The three South Cambridgeshire schemes we reported on last time have gone a stage further. Fulbourn to Cambridge City boundary has been approved by a council committee to go to the planning stage, this route having ‘most consensus’. This would form a newly constructed track on the north side of Fulbourn Road. Unfortunately there is no immediate prospect of anything happening on the area straddling the City boundary, though the Councils are now aware of the need for this to be addressed, especially as students at Netherhall School are among those expected to be using this discontinuous facility.

The Committee also accepted that 1.4 m was too narrow to build a cycle track between Comberton and Barton and has allocated extra funds to make this wider – 1.7 m, which is still too narrow, but the best we are likely to get. This scheme won’t go ahead for a while.

Cambridge Road, Milton, now with red surfacing to encourage drivers to keep clear of cyclists
Image as described adjacent

Milton High Street is possibly the most controversial of the group of three proposals, since there is a local movement to have the footways converted to shared-use through the village instead of providing (rather inadequate) cycle lanes. This kind of shared-use is exactly the kind of completely inadequate facility that we object to and we will oppose any moves in this direction. Nevertheless, South Cambridgeshire councillors really do seem to think that the only way to provide for cyclists is to put them on the pavement. They seem destined to repeat the same mistakes that Cambridge City made for years.

However a good bit of news in exactly the same area is that two of the central islands which created a hazardous pinch point for cyclists in Milton High Street, which we reported in Newsletter 14, have had red surfaced cycle lanes applied through them. We brought this to the attention of the Council through the Liaison Committee. The surfacing should give the appearance of a narrower gap to motorists and encourage keeping greater distance. If you use Milton High Street regularly we would very much like to hear from you whether this has helped.

This was part of what seems to be becoming a regular application of red around the City whenever contractors are in the area.

Barton Road

Cambridge Cable hurriedly burying their cables deeper on Barton Road
Image as described asjacent

By the time you read this, construction should have started on the cycle track on Barton Road. In fact Cambridge Cable have already been doing preparatory work where they did not originally bury their cables deep enough. Signs saying ‘extensive road works for 12 weeks’ have gone up, and Grange Road will be closed for a week or so in April while the table carrying the track across it is constructed.

Work on the path will be done 100 m at a time, from one end to the other, but other works and the traffic signals at Newnham Road corner will be built in parallel. The whole of the new path will be surfaced in one go in late May or early June so there will be a temporary surface for a while (mind you, even this will probably be better than the old surface).

Milton Road

Work on Cowley Road off Milton Road near the Science Park has been completed. We have had some mixed responses about this. On the one hand, the cycle track at the junction with the old Milton Road actually curves up to the crossing properly, unlike the right angle bends so often used elsewhere; and it is a proper cycle track, not just a shared-use as originally proposed. However, now that it has gone in, there have been some critical comments about the crossing of Cowley Road at the southern end.

Several people have commented on the forward stop box on Milton Road. Why is it there, seemingly stranded in the middle of the road? The answer is that the left lane is now for left turns only all the way from the roundabout. For confident cyclists who are continuing straight on, on the road, this box and approach lane offers some limited protection from traffic passing on both sides. However, left turn lanes like this are never satisfactory for cyclists, and we now have an appointment to discuss left turn lanes in general at a liaison meeting with the Council later in the year.

Transport Policies and Programmes

This is the high falutin’ title of the bid for money which the County Council makes each year for Government funds. This sets out the Council’s general strategy, and this year will be being prepared in the shadow of the impending White Paper on transport, so there will inevitably be last minute changes to it to follow the new Government line. While the impact of the White Paper will not really be felt fully until the 2000-2001 bid, another change this year is very welcome – the Council is formally to consult interested parties, such as ourselves, for the first time. We did make a submission last year, in response to the rather weak content on cycling; this year the Council will invite comments.

David Earl