This article was published in 1998, in Newsletter 21.
Once again the County Council has put off doing anything about the dual mini roundabouts at the end of Trumpington Street, this time for so long that it amounts to abandoning the scheme. Frankly it is an utterly shameful decision and we condemn it completely.
The decision, by the Environment and Transport Committee in October, was not helped by an earlier decision of the Cambridge Area Committee voting to defer it, and also by the withdrawal of Council officers’ support for the scheme. This is despite it being number four on the County’s list of priorities, with the top three being speed cameras (not location specific) and two which have already received funding. It still ranks as the junction with the most cycle casualties in the county.
Looking south along Trumpington Road: five lanes of traffic link two mini-roundabouts in the junction with the worst cyclist injury record in the County.
In theory, we now have to wait for the outcome of the Trumpington corridor review and the Silver Street stage of the Core Traffic Scheme (see below). These could be five years or more away. Silver Street is itself likely to be put on hold pending the development of a vast shopping centre in the City Centre (more on this next time).
As a result of the decision we are looking at what to do next. Possibilities include legal action, more letter-writing, monitoring the junction and looking for other ways to change the junction. However, looking at other ways cyclists could go, which is what we were told at our AGM would be done (see Not the minutes), clearly shows a lack of understanding of cyclists’ needs, behaviour and destinations.
The decision was taken despite the eloquent pleading of Councillor David Kelleway, who has promoted traffic signals there from the beginning. It was very disappointing to see Liberal Democrats supporting the Conservative majority on the committee.
The reasons for not putting traffic lights here keep changing. Sometimes we are told it is residents’ objections. At other times it is motor traffic capacity – which flies in the face of both Government and Conservative national policies. However, it seems that there is more than a little party politics going on here and cyclists’ safety is suffering as a result.
There are mixed signals coming from the County Council about restricting cars in the City Centre at the moment.
At their October meeting, councillors voted to proceed to the next stage of the Core Traffic Scheme (see Newsletter 20). This will mean closure of Emmanuel Road or Short Street, bringing some relief to Parker Street residents, and also bans on left turns out of Downing Street. Cyclists will be exempt from all of these. Four Lamps roundabout should also be made more cycle- and bus-friendly.
However, action on the next phase, closing Silver Street to through motor traffic, was not brought up at all. From Councillor Johnstone’s remarks to us, it seems likely that the development of the Grand Arcade, a massive new shopping mall in the City Centre, will be used as an excuse to spin out further progress on limiting traffic in the Centre instead of accelerating it.
A decision is to be made as we go to press about the scheme we reported in the last Newsletter in Milton High Street and Cambridge Road.
In the meantime, we had some publicity for our point of view – that the need for cycle facilities there is only generated by some very poor traffic calming, and that putting cyclists on the pavement is not satisfactory in built-up areas.
The Cambridge Evening News took our picture in the pinch points by the offending traffic islands. They even said in one of their editorials: ‘Cambridge Cycling Campaign is right to raise objections to schemes for cycleways in Milton. The organisation knows at first-hand what will be best for cyclists. Anything that raises doubts about safety is unacceptable.’ Given past editorials I don’t know whether to treat this with pride or as the kiss of death!
We have recently received plans showing proposed changes to the roundabout just east of the M11 on Barton Road. This is mainly to slow down traffic joining the roundabout, but it will also slightly change the cycle track which crosses the north side of the junction. Among other things it should get rid of an awkward drain cover which all of us who use it have worried about catching our wheels in.
The new Barton Road cycle track seems to be extremely well used. However we have received reports that at least two cyclists (one of them a Campaign member) have come off their bikes because they have caught the slightly raised white line at an awkward angle. It seems surprising that this can happen since it is only 20 mm high. It is there to give blind and partially sighted people something they can sense so they can avoid straying onto the cyclists’ side.
Of course the fundamental problem is that the track is not wide enough at the western end, as we said at the beginning. If it was, people wouldn’t have to cross the line.
We have now received a letter in reply to our representations about the condition of the surface, among other issues, on Regent Terrace (see Newsletter 20). We were told by the County Council that the street was unlikely to score highly enough in the systematic method they have for deciding resurfacing priorities. This is despite a weighting for cycle routes. Yet it is hard to think of a worse similar street.
This does raise the question of how any cycle route can qualify from now on, and what the criteria are. Now that Burrell’s Walk has been so well resurfaced (see Newsletter 19), Regent Terrace must rank as the worst cycle route surface in the City.
What were the criteria that allowed Burrell’s Walk to be reconstructed, but not Regent Terrace? We will try to find out, and let you know. We also asked about the bollards at the Regent Street end, which effectively direct pedestrians into the gap for cyclists. The reply here was noncommittal and we will tell you if there is any further progress.
W S Atkins consultants have started work on considering how Newmarket Road and the adjacent ‘corridor’ can be made more cycle-friendly. They have our review and suggestions for the area that we prepared a while ago. Hopefully we will see some consultation on this as work progresses. There is a considerable sum of money available for this. If all that comes out of it is ‘more shared-use’ we will be bitterly disappointed.
Marshall’s, who own lots of land off Newmarket Road, are also keen to develop leisure routes out of Cambridge in the area, though their interest in co-ordinating with other efforts such as the corridor review is somewhat in doubt.
Cambridge City Council has been commissioned to look at what was originally billed as the Addenbrooke’s corridor, which we took to be focused largely on Hills Road. However, the bus priority scheme there has largely overtaken events. Subtly, the emphasis has changed so that it is now being put on Trumpington Road. However, it may now also be possible to include the cross links in the study, especially the track between Trumpington and Addenbrooke’s.
Feasibility work, which should involve us, will start this year. However, it is unlikely we will see anything on the ground for at least two years, because Barton Road took up this year’s funds and Newmarket Road will soak up all the money for at least the next financial year to March 2000.
Inappropriate ‘dismount’ sign on the way to Fulbourn
The cycle way along Fulbourn Road between the city boundary and Fulbourn village is nearing completion. It is sad that we have had to push every little inch for a decent standard here. Utterly unnecessary Cyclists Dismount signs went up at the crossing of Yarrow Road. They have now been taken away at our request. A slip-lane to bypass the roundabout there was constructed to a very poor standard and has now been reconstructed.
Ramps down to cross side roads are not at all the smooth junction with the road we had been promised, and of course they are littered with the usual Give Ways. At one point the track goes through a rarely used bus stop, and even this has had Give Way signs put at either end. This paranoia that the Council has is frustrating, and leads cyclists either into ignoring the signs on a regular basis, or not using the cycle facility at all.
Give Way markings on the new cycleway
On the up-side, the track east of Fulbourn Hospital is very smooth and mostly wide enough, a triumph in itself. It remains to be seen whether it will deteriorate over time as the cycle track to Barton has done. I also do not know whether it will have reflective markings so that it is usable in the dark. Every question I have asked about this has been ignored.
We receive lots of plans and letters from the County Council consulting us about various changes to road design. Sometimes we simply don’t have time to respond to these, so we have to prioritise them. For example, there was quite a lot of material about a traffic island in Barnwell Road, which has now been installed. While I did do a short response, the scheme did not seem to be particularly significant. Similarly, traffic signal changes in Histon and Willingham seemed very positive from a cycling point of view so I felt there was no need to follow up on them.
It would be nice to respond to every letter, even if is only to say ‘yes, great, thank you’. Also, it is only after the event that problems with what looked good or innocuous on paper become apparent. So if we don’t always say what you think we should have said about a proposal, then firstly let me say sorry. Secondly, let me encourage you to offer some time to help in making responses. To give you some idea of the scale of things, we have written over 150 letters and reports this year.