On the cards

This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 33.

The County Council has a complicated system for allocating its funds for improving the road environment. The ‘accident remedial schemes’ take into account casualty statistics, level of service, etc, to come up with a county-wide priority list. Most of the time this system means that Councillors can simply rubber-stamp the exercise, having already agreed the principles.

Only occasionally do individual schemes get tangled up in politics, such as the one to replace the double mini-roundabouts at Lensfield Road and Trumpington Road, a junction with a high cycling casualty rate, that was canned after the last County Council elections in 1997. That still has not come back for reconsideration, though some very welcome minor improvements were made this year.

Recently, Councillors considered the next tier down, medium sized schemes that are moving through the system, and new ones that have bubbled to the top of the list. Apart from speed cameras which do not yet have specific locations, but are – rightly – number one in the list, the following are of interest.

Mitcham’s Corner

Image as described adjacent
At long last Mitcham’s Corner may get some attention

At long last this frightening confluence of traffic, described by the Council as a ‘gyratory’, may get some attention. At number two in the list, the junction has seen about one casualty a month, and half of these have involved cyclists or motorcyclists. The vague initial thought is ‘signals’, presumably involving the whole roundabout system.

I really think a more radical approach should be taken: replacing the gyratory system with cross roads would improve bus journeys and hugely simplify the system. The Council officer’s report hints that maintaining traffic capacity will be a decisive factor in any proposal.

Clare mentioned a workshop on the future of this junction in the last newsletter. This had no official standing but it would be very desirable for this to be brought into the official process before options become too fixed.

Quy junction
Image as described adjacent
At Quy, cyclists may get signals to cross to the tunnel under the A14, at a constantly busy location


At number three, the presence of a busy T junction at Quy so close to a major roundabout, together with cyclists crossing to use the tunnel under the A14 is a recipe for conflict. Signals here would include a cycle crossing, which will not only improve safety, but actually give cyclists a chance to get across what can be almost continuous traffic flow.

Queens Road and Newnham Road

Improved lighting should help reduce the unusually high number of collisions in the dark.

Cherry Hinton Road at Mowbray Road

Jim Chisholm has already attended a workshop on our behalf looking at changes to this medium sized roundabout, and we have now seen some early plans of what might be proposed. The money is already largely agreed for this.

The junction would remain a roundabout but the approaches would be made considerably more cycle friendly. In particular, the left-turn lane on Cherry Hinton Road heading out of town would be removed, and replaced with a pair of cycle lanes which position cyclists in the right place to go straight on as well as left. On the opposite side, a long cycle approach lane would get us past the traffic queues that are a feature throughout the day.

Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent
Before and after: Cherry Hinton Road could look like this some time in the next year

Key targets on road casualties

Cambridgeshire is one of twenty councils selected to try out a new system called public service agreements . This is mostly about the way funding is managed and is overly heavy on gobbledegook. However, the practical results seem to be

  • There is more money to spend on particular ‘black spots’ and there will be a comprehensive survey.
  • The Council is to find out more about skidding accidents. This is couched in terms of road skid-resistance, but would it really be a surprise to find that people skid because they are travelling too fast to stop in time?

Perhaps most important, especially in view of the speed policy agreed at the same time, the Council can recycle the money from speeding fines that currently goes to the Treasury, and spend it on enforcement. (Or in Council-speak: ‘Permitting the hypothecation of speed camera fine revenue is an example of the removal of an inhibitor to allow the achievement of a stretch target.’)

Excellent news all round, except for the English language.

David Earl