Cambridge City

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 22.

Junctions being altered

Work in progress on Hills Road
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Work has started on reconstructing several junctions around town. We’ve reported on the plans for these previously.

On Hills Road, at the junction with Long Road, new signals are being installed with pedestrian crossings and advanced stop lines for cyclists. Work has started on changes at the Station Road junction, too. These are two of several junctions on Hills Road which will be made more cycle- and pedestrian-friendly in advance of the Babraham Park and Ride site being opened in the autumn. Of course, the main impetus for these changes is to give buses priority along Hills Road, but significant improvements for cyclists are incorporated into the scheme, too.

At Brooks Road, the mini-roundabout at the end of Mill Road is almost gone, with traffic signals taking over here too at long last. As part of the scheme, the cycle crossing between Brookside and Natal Road (and on into Cambridge) is being moved to the Mill Road junction. We have not succeeded in persuading the County Council that there is anything wrong with having a phone box and a post box in the middle of the cycle track, however!

Lady Margaret Road
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At Murkett’s Corner (the end of Victoria Road at the top of Castle Hill), we understand that as well as the significant improvements for cyclists and pedestrians that we reported on previously (see Newsletter 20), the left turn lane into Shire Hall is to be protected with a cycle lane to its right. This indicates to cyclists more clearly where they need to be on the road; encourages motorists to keep further out; and, most importantly, avoids conflict between cyclists going straight on and left-turning cars.

Work is well underway there. Probably the most advanced of the group of changes, however, is the nearby junction of Lady Margaret Road and Madingley Road. Traffic signals were turned on there in the third week of January. They certainly make it easier to turn right onto Madingley Road. There is still work to be completed, including various cycle markings on the road.

Green Street

Green Street, in the centre of Cambridge, is being reconstructed. This was a great surprise to us. We are generally consulted about changes, but we hadn’t heard about this.

The idea is to make the street more attractive and the pavements wider to attract more people to use the street. At present it has the feel of a back street.

Artist’s impression of the intended result in Green Street. Note the Sheffield racks.
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Judging from the artist’s impression, the V-grip cycle racks are to be replaced by Sheffield stands, which is good news. However, potentially less good news for cyclists is that the surface to be used on the street will be ‘reclaimed granite setts’, which most people would describe as cobbles. The Evening News says these are coming from the Cattle Market. Carefully done, and with a suitable profile, these can be satisfactory, but there are some appalling examples in Cambridge and elsewhere. They can be uncomfortable to walk on as well as slippery and bumpy to ride over. We’ll try to find out more about this, but even if an uncomfortable surface is to be used it will probably be hard to do much now, as the plan is so far advanced.

Emmanuel Road

Proposals have been published for the closure in Emmanuel Road and Short Street. We will make comments on these soon. As we said in Newsletter 20, this closure forms the second stage of the Core Traffic Scheme, after Bridge Street.

There are five main elements to the scheme:

  • the closure, and the junctions at
  • Jesus Lane (Four Lamps),
  • Drummer Street,
  • Clarendon Street-Parkside, and
  • Downing Street-St Andrews Street.

The aim is to greatly reduce traffic in the whole area so that life should become pleasanter, even in streets where there are no specific measures.

Four Lamps

The proposal is to introduce a bus and cycle lane around most of the Jesus Lane side of the roundabout in the left-hand lane, to lead into the northbound bus and cycle lane in Victoria Avenue. Nothing is specifically proposed to help cyclists here, though there is perhaps a smaller area of tarmac to cross into the new lane.

At the moment, this right turn out of King Street is illegal
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King Street

It will be legal to make the right turn from King Street into Short Street which everyone does already – the shape of the island will be changed to accommodate this.

The bollards

There are two suggestions for the closure itself, which would be close to where the southernmost pelican crossing is now. The first is an arrangement like that in Bridge Street, while the other allows two-way working, which is now also to be proposed for Bridge Street. Both approaches would be clearly restricted at the ends of New Square so cars don’t find themselves at the barrier without having passed through a barrage of signs. Incidentally, the pelican would revert to a zebra crossing, at long last giving priority back to pedestrians on this immensely busy crossing.

Park Terrace and Clarendon Street today, with the proposed diagonal path painted over the picture.
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Drummer Street

A mini-roundabout is proposed for the Drummer Street junction with Emmanuel Road. Roundabouts and cyclists do not mix, so we should be wary of this. It may be, however, that the much reduced traffic levels make this workable.

Clarendon Street

Here we see some significant improvements for cyclists, with advanced stop lines on the approaches (including approach lanes), and a marked out path diagonally across the junction for people to make the common movement from Clarendon Street to the corner of Parker’s Piece.

The County Council’s suggested layout for the Clarendon Street junction. Parker’s Piece is at the bottom of the picture.
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Downing Street

At Downing Street, left turns would be banned except to buses, taxis and cyclists. This removes the need for two cramped lanes, for cars, and gives room for an approach lane for cyclists to a forward stop line. This may turn out to be one of the most significant parts of the scheme for cycling.

The County Council’s proposal for Downing Street.
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There seems to be lots of good news in this package. The downside is that there is likely to be more traffic elsewhere, on Gonville Place and Regent Street in particular.

At Downing Street it would be nice if we could turn left without needing to wait for the lights to change, and we will suggest such an arrangement. It would also be helpful to cyclists if the approach to the northern pedestrian crossing on Short Street did not taper in to an island forming a pinch point. Again the scheme provides an opportunity to suggest such changes. If you have any other comments, please get in touch quickly.

Bridge Street

A ‘gateway feature’ could be installed here at Magdalene Street, to discourage unwanted traffic and make the point that the city centre starts here.
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Now traffic in Bridge Street has been reduced, the next step is to try to make the street pleasanter. The heavyweight but essentially temporary equipment and street furniture can be revised and the layout of the street reconsidered – the subject of an exhibition held in December at Magdalene College. The aims are to

  • reduce the impact of vehicles that still use the street, by limiting speeds, removing waiting areas and so on;
  • extend the ‘feel’ of the City Centre along Bridge Street and Magdalene Street;
  • make the street more pedestrian-friendly; to be sympathetic to the historic nature of the streets;
  • add interest to the street; and
  • improve public transport facilities.

A 20 mph limit would be introduced and loading and waiting restrictions brought in. Where possible the pavements would be widened. A one-way-at-a-time traffic system will be needed to allow this in the very narrow section outside Magdalene College.

The street would be paved in various places, especially at crossing points, perhaps to the extent of forming a kind of piazza around and south of the bridge, extending the feel of Quayside, while an architectural gateway at the northern end would help to discourage unwanted traffic from entering the street.

The most significant traffic management measure affecting cyclists, except possibly the speed limits, would be the revised arrangements at the bollards. Here it’s proposed to replace the current one-way-at-a-time system with lanes in each direction. This would mean slightly reducing the width of the cycle lanes. However, kerbs would be replaced with posts, effectively providing as much space. More importantly it should remove the most serious of our criticisms of the present scheme – the way buses are forced to swing into the path of cyclists around the islands.

The likely layout of the new barriers in Bridge Street. A similar arrangement is one option for Emmanuel Road.
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We can’t do justice here to the significant amount of work the City and County Councils, working in partnership, have put into the suggestions and design, and the willingness of lots of community and interest groups to work together on improving the street.

David Earl