The 37 minute Hills Road bus race

This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 19.

County Council wants to make sure that the Babraham Road Park and Ride site, due to open next summer, has bus priority measures along Hills Road ready to complement it by the time it is completed. Newmarket Road was done in a great hurry soon after the site opened.

[diagram of plans]

The target is a 37 minute round trip time for buses on Hills Road to the City Centre. This will allow Stagecoach to operate a ten-minute service with four buses, all they are apparently prepared to apply to the site.

Because there is more planning ahead this time, there has also been more thought put into helping cyclists on Hills Road. Some work will go ahead this year because there is already money allocated in the current budget.

It is unfortunate that the signals at Brooklands Avenue jumped the gun by breaking down for good in June, rather forcing the Council’s hand. Richard Preston at the County Council, just a couple of weeks earlier, had described them to us as ‘clapped out.’ Unfortunately this has meant a prolonged period without the cycle lights. However, the left turn only movement at the junction was also suspended, so it was not as bad as it could have been.

Emergency repairs to the Brooklands Avenue traffic lights
Image as described adjacent

The changes proposed are starting to acquire detail now. They aren’t as radical as those on Newmarket Road (at least in the first instance), instead allowing the buses to change ordinary lights early, rather than having a separate set of signals.

Changes to the traffic lights will help cyclists in various places, though it is disappointing that nothing at all is being proposed on Hills Road bridge. At first sight, allocating a lane in each direction to buses and cycles would seem obvious, but County Council modelling shows that would actually slow down the buses because of the additional queues of traffic generated further back. However that does mean that there is no protection for cyclists on the bridge, especially at the two pinch points as you start up the ramps.

There seem to be many points to welcome – the cycle lane southbound at the City end, and the replacement of the Addenbrooke’s Roundabout for example.

However, we would rather the cycle lanes past Homerton College were improved rather than yet another shared-use footway installed, and concern has been expressed about the knock-on effect of banning right turns into the ‘Camtax’ road by the station.

Advanced Stop Lines without approach lanes seem to be the order of the day at all the traffic lights, and left-turn only lanes are present in abundance, so we’ll want to make comments about these too.

David Earl