Car parks into cycle access: swords into ploughshares?

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 19.

Clare and I recently met with Roger Cutting, a senior manager at Addenbrooke’s, and Colin Carr from the Bicycle User Group, to see what might be done on the hospital site to improve cycle access to the heart of the site. We discussed ways for cyclists to avoid the one-way system and access from the Shelford and Trumpington directions, but one of the most interesting observations was how most cyclists coming onto the site do so – through the middle of a car park.

Coming south along Hills Road most cyclists move into the middle of the road at a convenient point, and then jump over the grass verge and bank next to the corner of the outpatients car park (there’s a well worn groove on the bank). This avoids the dreadful right turn at the Addenbrooke’s roundabout, cuts a corner, and avoids the internal roundabout too.

This led to an inspiration that could be used elsewhere as well. Clearly it makes sense to forge a properly surfaced access following the desire line, and maybe an island to help turning off Hills Road. However, manoeuvring vehicles in the car park don’t mix well with cycles. But it looks as though there is room simply to move two rows of parked cars apart by a couple of metres to let the cycles go between them. With kerbs to stop encroachment, and a clear crossing point, this should allow a much improved way into the hospital complex from the north and east.

Here …
Image as described adjacent
… to here …
Image as described adjacent
… to where?
Image as described adjacent

This idea led us to think about where there are similar possibilities. The obvious example is at the station where a cycle route is actually signposted through the car park. Could we avoid the manoeuvring cars by going between them? And let’s see if we can get rid of the fierce turns under the suspension bridge too, we were asked at the July Campaign meeting. Could there even be a ramp onto the bridge from the station, a feature which was opposed by the then British Rail when the bridge was first built? We will raise this with WAGN at our next liaison meeting with them at the end of July.

Is there anywhere else where you know car parks are used by cyclists as a through route? The Chemistry Department on Lensfield Road springs to mind as one. Do you know of any others?

Dave Earl