This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 18.
We have reached a stalemate with the County Council about the new bus priority traffic lights on Newmarket Road, just east of the River Lane junction. You may remember (Newsletter 17) that these don’t detect all cycles and make those that are wait 15 seconds, while the cars zoom past on the right. Naturally, cyclists can’t see why they should need to wait here, and are universally ignoring the red light. We asked for green filter lights to allow cyclists through at all times.
Green filters are supposed to be installed on two of the other sets of bus lights – but they haven’t arrived from the suppliers yet (and they won’t put signs up, despite it being several months now since the red lights were activated). The reason that we can’t have a green filter at River Lane, we are told, is that occasionally a cyclist may want to turn right into River Lane, and assume that, because there is a green filter, they have a clear path across the path of the cars in the right-hand lane (even though they can see whether the car lane has a green light). If there were money to purchase land on the left, a proper by-pass for the lights could be constructed, but of course there is no money.
However, the County Council has conceded that the sensors at the River Lane bus signals are faulty. They have also conceded that there is a case for providing a central advisory cycle lane to protect cyclists going straight on along Newmarket Road beyond Coldham’s Lane, where much of the traffic wants to turn left. Once again, though, this depends on money. There is to be some cash in the pot shortly, but this has to pay for improving the cyclist’s lot along the whole of Newmarket Road and parallel routes, as we reported last time.
Further east, the County has also accepted that a section of cycle lane between Ditton Walk and the railway bridge was erased by mistake, and will be reinstated.
The Council hasn’t finished with Newmarket Road as far as bus priority is concerned, yet. We heard recently that they are now considering what more they can do to speed the buses on their way, with particular emphasis on the section between Barnwell Road and Ditton Walk. The sections where bus lanes have been added so far have provided protection for cyclists where there was none before, or have not removed what was already there. However it is hard to see what could be done in this new section without affecting cyclists deeply, so we shall be keeping a close eye on developments here.
Because a new Park and Ride site is being constructed at Babraham Road (at the bottom of the Gog Magog Hills, beyond Addenbrooke’s), Hills Road is the next route to be considered for bus priority measures.
Hills Road is also scheduled next for consideration for improving cycle provision. But, just as in Newmarket Road, the County Council is incapable of co-ordinating the two. This is deeply frustrating: major changes to a road could be done so much more effectively when all types of user are considered together, rather than the cycle scheme having to mop up the side effects on cyclists of the changes for buses.
However, at least this time the Council is planning to talk to us about the bus priority proposals on Hills Road at a somewhat earlier stage. Around the time you read this we will be meeting County Council officers. A public consultation exercise is planned for late June.
Finally, as part of the Park and Ride scheme, the County Council has been conducting market research amongst its users, to provide feedback on the service. How wonderful for the individual car drivers using the service to have their every need taken into account. How sad, therefore, that the same attitude is not taken with cyclists. When was the last time you were surveyed using (or not using!) a newly constructed cycle facility to find out your opinions about it?