Red for parking lanes

This article was published in 1999, in Newsletter 26.

Have you ever tried to cycle along Cherry Hinton Road towards its junction with Hills Road and got into a spot of bother?

Proceeding in a westerly direction, as they say, there has been no cycle lane up until this point, but, with cars parked on both sides, the traffic has been single-lane and quite slow moving. Everyone is clear about who and what is around them and manoeuvres carefully around obstructions – and even lets the occasional vehicle out of a side road. Suddenly, just past Rustat Road, there are two lanes each way, and the flow excitedly accelerates.

Image as described adjacent
The garage forecourt, or the road and the pavement?

Imagine the frustration for the driver to be thwarted, first by the traffic lights controlling the right-hand turn to the Cattle Market area and, second… by wobbly cyclists, desperately looking for some space on the road. What has happened? We have been provided with a now not-so-bright but still definitely red cycle lane to take us through this section right up to Hills Road, so what is the problem?

More often than not (and I have the statistics to prove it) the way is in fact solidly blocked and we have to take our chance with the traffic which is already jostling for position to get the correct lane for turning into Hills Road (not as easy as you’d think). The obstacle race is created by one or more cars, vans or lorries belonging to Brinton’s Garage. They are parked at a variety of angles, on or across the pavement and road and sometimes are even moving at high speed across this extended forecourt, seemingly oblivious to pedestrians and cyclists. The unpredictability of quite what one will face each day makes it even more difficult to cope with.

I am fully expecting to observe a four-way punch-up one day between an irate cyclist, pedestrian, bus driver and Brinton’s staff member. I’d prefer that to a four-way pile-up, anyway. I now often take the alternative route to work: over the cycle bridge, along Station Road and thence to Hills Road. Fractionally less hair-raising. Even more fume-ridden. Anyone got a solution?

Liz Cook
Cambridge Cycling Campaign member and Cycling Co-ordinator for Cambridge University Press.