Road works galore

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 23.

Junction capacity still Rules OK

A combination of the big Hills Road bus priority scheme, which is changing many junctions in the south of the city, and various safety budget funded rearrangements, have recently made it seem as if there are road works nearly everywhere you go. In nearly all the junction changes, advanced stop lines for cyclists are the norm. However it is also now common practice not to provide any way for cyclists to get to them. We had extended correspondence with the County Council engineer responsible for the Madingley Road-Lady Margaret Road signals (now operating) about this. The latest example is at the junction of Carlton Way and Gilbert Road in south Arbury.

The traffic signals at this junction are going to be replaced, pedestrian crossings incorporated and advanced stop lines installed. But even though there is a cycle lane (of sorts) on Gilbert Road, it will still continue to stop well short of the junction so that there is still room for two lanes of traffic, and not lead into the box for cyclists at the front. This is despite the fact that Gilbert Road has right turn filters in both directions, so right turning traffic does not hold up straight ahead traffic.

In theory the Local Transport Plan (see Local Transport Plans – more of the same) should be promoting traffic reduction in Cambridge, and reallocation of road space is part of that. Removing the requirement to have multiple lanes at traffic lights, to the detriment of cyclists (and pedestrians), is one of the key tests for us of whether they are serious about reducing traffic dominance in the city away from the centre.

Central restrictions approved

Since we last reported on them, we have compiled a response about the plans for Emmanuel Road and neighbouring streets, and the decision to proceed with the scheme has been taken by a council committee. (By the way, apologies for the misprint on the cover last time: Emmanuel Street should have read Emmanuel Road.)

The key to the plan is to install rising bollards in Emmanuel Road, limiting through movements in that quarter of the City. Supporting this will be bus lanes on Four Lamps roundabout, a new mini-roundabout at Drummer Street, new traffic lights and cycle facilities at Clarendon Road, and a ban on left turns out of Downing Street for private cars.

While continuing to support the initiative, about half of our response was about the impact on cyclists of extra traffic in other streets. We asked, for example, for cycle lanes on Chesterton Road and Victoria Avenue, and for consideration to be given to limiting traffic in Maids Causeway. We looked at problems in East Road, Gonville Place and Regent Street.

The Council agreed to look further at Maids Causeway, largely because of residents’ concerns. We are also expecting to meet officers to look at some of the other but more minor things that could be done for cyclists in the whole area.

Work is to start soon with a view to co-ordinating the restriction with the opening of the new Park and Ride service at Babraham Road in the autumn.

Murkett's Corner before
Murkett’s Corner: before.
Murkett's Corner - our suggestion
Murkett’s Corner: the Campaign’s suggestion.
Murkett's Corner now
Murkett’s Corner: now.

Murkett’s Corner

Among the junction changes completed since we last reported, Murkett’s Corner at the top of Castle Hill is now emblazoned with red surfacing. The new central cycle lane on the Huntingdon Road approach is there largely because of our promotion of it, as are several of the advanced stop lines that were not previously planned. The original plan here was simply to incorporate pedestrian crossings. It is interesting to compare our suggestion with what has finally been implemented. The triangular marking at the start is a bit of a peculiarity.

The continuation of the cycle lane part way down Castle Hill is also a welcome late addition. We have asked if this can now be joined up with the lane at the bottom of the hill. Fortunately, the sewer works on Castle Hill have also finished, but left behind them a trail of pock-marks.

Park and Ride

As we mentioned above, the County Council’s intention is to open Babraham Road Park and Ride, operating along Hills Road, in the autumn.

We were appalled to learn that the City Council has decided to keep open the Cattle Market site, currently used for Park and Ride, when the new park comes into operation, at least until any development happens here. The Council is saying 16 months, but it could be years. They have thrown away the first opportunity to displace car parking with Park and Ride, and instead succeeded in very expensively providing extra car parking while not reducing the traffic. Why? Because they can make money out of the car park.

Environmental groups have been getting very edgy about the sustainability and effectiveness of Park and Ride recently, and if this is the Council’s attitude, then they can expect support for the concept to evaporate. Already a wide variety of local transport campaign groups have agreed that Park and Ride needs to change – see the article on the Local Transport Plan.

There are also a few points which we have been following up on the changes along Hills Road arising from Park and Ride.

Firstly, we were concerned that banning the right turn from Hills Road into the private road to the station would lengthen journeys for some cyclists, so we formally objected to this. The decision has been deferred to the summer for now.

Secondly, we suggested and supported lowering the speed limit south of Addenbrooke’s, and this has been adopted.

The junction by Addenbrooke’s is to be a roundabout with signals. The alternative plan would have had a road going across the middle. We thought the latter would have been preferable, but didn’t have very strong feelings about it. At least the mature trees on the island will stay with the reconstruction, and the new arrangement will still be a big improvement for cyclists, as well as giving buses priority.

Elsewhere, construction is also still in progress. Motorists are busy ignoring the newly painted advanced stop lines at Long Road and Queen Edith’s Way. They don’t yet have cycle logos on them, but if you manage to get past the traffic, there is often nowhere to wait when you get to the front. We hope this will improve on completion.

Devonshire Road

Several members have been worried by a new lay-by which has appeared in Devonshire Road at the foot of the Carter Bridge. It is very narrow and abuts right onto the cycle lane immediately after the turn off the bridge. During construction the cycle lane was blocked.

On Devonshire Road
On Devonshire Road. Where do you go if someone opens a car door in your path?

Apparently it is there as a condition of planning permission for the new housing on the old Ridgeon’s site, to replace the spaces lost at the new entrance. As such, there is not much we can do about it directly. We tried objecting to the Traffic Order, but we are now persuaded that this would not help because all it would do is make the bay for residents only. Residents’ parking would lead to fewer vehicle movements than general parking.

What the lay-by has done is focus our attention on some of the problems in the road in general. It is still extensively used by rat-running cars at peak times. It was extremely busy on the morning we took the photograph (perhaps made worse by road works in Tenison Road and Station Road).

Access to the station from the bridge is awkward. And the island at the bottom of the bridge is arranged such that most cyclists go up the down ramp rather than make the sharp turns and lose their momentum. The cycle lane leading from the bridge puts you in the wrong place to turn right at Tenison Road – which is what most cyclists do.

So we are now wondering whether we have a hook on which to hang promoting a closure or partial closure at Devonshire Road. This was wanted by residents when the route was first opened, and we think there may be some desire still, because of the new housing and associated traffic.


The shared-use path from Cherry Hinton to Fulbourn was completed at the end of last year (see Newsletters 19 and 21). Judging by the tyre marks, it is well used. I find its fussy features frustrating and remain worried about the lack of complementary traffic management features, especially at the junctions of Hinton Road and Fulbourn Hospital. Proposed office development at the Hospital limited the original plan to help the cycle path across the entrance, but may yet provide the opportunity to improve matters.

Island in Fulbourn
Unfortunately motorists seem quite incapable of not hitting this island in Fulbourn, and also generally unwilling to give way as they are in theory obliged to. This has led to numerous collisions. In one incident an elderly pedestrian crossing at the island ended up in Addenbrooke’s after being hit by a car. Several cyclists have complained to us that vehicles won’t give way to them in the gap, leading to some hairy near misses.

In the one place where traffic management was installed, it has proved to be a disaster. This is an island at the Fulbourn end, where traffic is restricted to one way at a time.

As a result, the island is going to be reinforced by a second central island with very narrow traffic lanes. This will involve taking a bite out of the already narrow cycle path. My hope is that the new gap will be so narrow that there is no possibility of cars overtaking cyclists who stay on the road at the island. But my fear, based on my recent experience in Harston where a dozen or so islands have been installed, is that motorists will do anything to get past in such narrow spaces.

Also in Fulbourn, we reported a long time ago that money had been extracted from Tesco as a result of the development of their new store, to build an alternative to Fulbourn Old Drift. Well, nearly two years on, this is completely stalled, and the money remains unspent. Given the new route development, we have written to the County Council suggesting that this money would now be better spent enhancing Fulbourn Road – a cycle lane to get past peak time queuing traffic, and an island to help cyclists using the new path cross the road at the City end.

David Earl