About Town

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 19.

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Burrell’s Walk: ‘what a smoothie’

Burrell’s Walk
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Burrell’s Walk (from Queen’s Road to Grange Road behind the University Library) has been resurfaced. This is now a wonderful cycling surface. It is wide enough and free from cars, so conflicts with pedestrian users are minimal. Now we need to see the signalled crossing lined up with the lane and made into a proper cycle crossing. The impact of West Cambridge development may eventually secure this, but the large numbers of cycle trips that area will generate will need much more doing than just resurfacing.

In addition, there has been more helpful smooth resurfacing on sections of Cherry Hinton Road, complementing what was done last year.

More resurfacing – Mill Road and Cherry Hinton Road

When the Mill Road and Gwydir Street signals were installed last year, one of the comments we made was that the approach from Mill Road bridge was extremely poor. The County has now recognised this and resurfaced the section from the bridge to the north side of the junction. Unfortunately this meant wiping out all the newly installed road markings and red surfacing, so these all have to be re-instated, which apart from the expense, is a relatively slow process. However, perhaps this offers a second opportunity to press the case for even narrow approach lanes to the advanced stop reservoirs for cyclists.

Queen Edith’s Way – promise reneged on

Despite our representations (see ‘Counting Edith’ in Newsletter 18), Councillors decided in committee in June that they would not carry out the review of the shared-use footways in Queen Edith’s Way that was promised when they were first installed.

The response from the County Council pleaded lack of money – an inability to do everything at once – though quite why a review should necessarily entail large amounts of money is not clear. Such a review might indeed lead to new demands on funds, but not necessarily directly from the cycling budget.

Long Road – no longer a car park

Long Road: car parking banned
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Since the beginning of the year, the section of Long Road from Hills Road to the sixth form college has been plagued with increasing amounts of parking. This has meant that cyclists have had to ride on the wrong side of the centre line or risk a car door being opened in their path, and following vehicles have been overtaking cyclists into the path of oncoming vehicles.

Fortunately the Councils have recognised the problems this caused and decided to ban parking at their meeting in June. Yellow lines have now been installed in both the directly affected areas, and the whole of the rest of Long Road and Queen Edith’s Way east of Hills Road, so that the problem does not just shift to there.

We wrote to councillors in advance of the meeting supporting these restrictions, and as a regular user I think this is probably the most beneficial safety measure that has been instituted anywhere on routes I commonly use, expensive cycle schemes and new traffic lights included, and for a fraction of the cost.

Newmarket Road – little green bikes

Cycle filter light on Newmarket Road
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At long last, the expected cycle filter lights at the ends of the two bus lanes on Newmarket Road have been installed. This means that cyclists can now do legally what they have been doing all along – cycling through past the signals in safety.

However, the cycle lane on Newmarket Road just to the east of the railway bridge has still not been reinstated, and at the time of writing, we have just written another letter about this – our third. The Ditton Lane signals also still fail to detect bikes; more people are using the bypass around them. The River Lane lights are also still not detecting my bike, but seem to for most other people! Not that it makes any difference, because no one is actually waiting for the lights to change anyway.

Histon and Willingham

We received plans for two very similar schemes to install traffic lights at the main cross-roads in Histon and Willingham. Both of these would have advanced stop lines for cyclists, including at least partial approach lanes. Unfortunately I haven’t had time to respond to these, but they look like positive changes from the cyclist’s point of view.

Fulbourn Road

Plans are now well advanced for a cycle track on the north side of Fulbourn Road between Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn. We have been working with the County Council to try to iron out the sharp turns and drop kerbs that seem to dog schemes like this. For example, the details now accept that the cycle track can just go straight across a bus lay-by that sees only one service a day (and rarely any passengers at the stop), rather than wiggling round the back of it.

The Fulbourn end will go over the hill by the windmill (which pretty much everyone who commented on the original proposals said should happen) and be protected by a severe road narrowing at Caraway Road (including, however, a by-pass for cyclists so people who use the road will not be squashed). This, and a similar island at the other end of the village, attracted much more debate at a recent public meeting in Fulbourn than the cycle track.

Unfortunately, the other end is in the City, so there does not appear to be funding for an island there. This means that the attractiveness of the scheme is much reduced because it requires a crossing of the road (and the unreconstructed path at the City end is a much lower quality). What will no doubt happen in practice is that cyclists who feel they need to use an off-road path will stay on the footway illegally up to the Robin Hood junction, to join the existing shared-use on Cherry Hinton Road which is also on the north side.

Cyclists who continue to use the road for all or part of the journey will have a useful feature at the awkwardly placed roundabout at the end of Yarrow Road – a bypass avoiding the roundabout altogether. Intended for use heading towards town, I can actually see it being attractive to cyclists going east as well, which the Council would no doubt be extremely alarmed about!

Construction is likely to start in the late summer and be complete in the autumn.

Fulbourn Road-Yarrow Road junction: where the planned cycle bypass will go
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Barton Road

At the time of writing, the cycle track on Barton Road – which has been mentioned many times in past newsletters – is just about complete, but the traffic lights and cycle crossing at Grantchester Street have still not been installed. Six Give Way’s in around two minutes is very frustrating and will no doubt lead to significant numbers of cyclists continuing to use the road.

Despite the narrowness at the western end, the surface and width are considerable improvements on what was there before. It is a shame, though, that they have not been able to get features such as drain covers level with the surface, so that it is still a worse surface than the road alongside.

No money has been found for a signalled crossing at Grantchester Road, so one of the primary group of potential users of the new path – the language school opposite Wolfson College – will still be ordered by their Principal not to use it. Most will continue to illegally cycle on the pavement on the south side as far as the pelican crossing at Grange Road.

David Earl