Chesterton Roundabout

This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 30.

Detailed proposals have now been published for the Chesterton Road-Elizabeth Way roundabout. These follow an informal workshop session to discuss this junction, held at Shire Hall earlier this year.

The geometry of the roundabout will be modified in an attempt to reduce vehicle speeds. The approach angles will be ‘squared off’ and the width of the carriageway round the roundabout will be reduced from three lanes to two by diagonal hatching.

‘The left-turn lanes will make the roundabout much more intimidating’

A new two-way cycle route is proposed along the south and west sides of the roundabout, using the pavement on the west side and the two cul-de-sac sections of the old alignment of Chesterton Road. Crossing points – but no signals – will be provided across the southern and western arms of the roundabout. The pelican crossing at Oak Tree Avenue, about a hundred metres north of the roundabout, will be converted to a toucan cycle crossing.

The idea is to allow some cyclists to avoid the roundabout altogether. Whatever the council’s intentions, we expect the main value of this new route will be to help cyclists approaching from the south and west to turn left. It may also be useful to cyclists heading west from Chesterton High Street into Chesterton Road, who will be able to follow the old alignment of these roads. However cyclists following this route will have to fend for themselves when they cross Elizabeth Way.

Some on-carriageway cycle facilities are also proposed. New cycle lanes will be provided on the north, east and south edges of the roundabout itself, to help cyclists turn left.

Left-turn-only lanes are proposed for all four approaches to the roundabout. On the northbound approach a very long left-turn lane is proposed. This means that cyclists going straight on will need to position themselves in the middle of the road. To help such cyclists, short lengths of cycle lane will be provided in the middle of three of the roundabout approaches.

Disaster

The left-turn lanes are a disaster for cyclists. They will make the roundabout much more intimidating.

We are also very worried about the provision of cycle lanes on the roundabout. Although they will help with left turns, they will place straight-ahead and right-turning cyclists in the wrong position on the roundabout. The use of left-turn lanes will make this worse, because motorists will be expecting all cyclists in the cycle lane to turn left.

There is evidence that cycle lanes on roundabouts may increase accidents. A cycle lane was introduced on a roundabout in Weymouth, Dorset in December 1997. In the twenty months after its introduction, thirteen slight injury accidents, nine of which involved cyclists, were recorded compared to a total of only six in the three preceding years. The cycle lane is now to be withdrawn.

We have therefore written to the council opposing the left-turn lanes and expressing our serious reservations about the cycle lanes.

These proposals contain a lot of cycle facilities. They are a genuine attempt to reduce accidents and to improve conditions for cyclists. However it might have been better to narrow the roundabout with hatchings, square off the approach angles, and leave it at that.

Nigel Deakin

Stop Press: Chesterton Roundabout Update

Just as Newsletter 30 went to press, we had a meeting with Cambridgeshire County Council to discuss our concerns about the proposed changes to the Chesterton Road/Elizabeth Way roundabout (see article above).

As a result of this meeting, the proposed scheme has been modified. The most important change is that the proposal for left-turn lanes on all four approaches has been dropped. The council has also agreed to modify the design of the cycle lanes on the roundabout to make it clearer to both cyclists and motorists that they are for left-turning cyclists only.

The revised scheme will now go to public consultation, and we should be able to support it. We do, however, see the provision of cycle lanes on the roundabout for left-turning cyclists as an experimental measure, and we will be looking closely at how it works in practice.

As with Grange Road, it is clear that council officers are listening to our concerns and making changes to accommodate them.

Nigel Deakin