This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 34.


You probably consider me a sleeping member of the Cycling Campaign, but I do read and enjoy the magazine and frequently intend to comment.

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Disliked access to Trumpington High Street from Shelford Road

I live in Trumpington so use the Shelford Road cycleway almost daily. I much prefer it to the foot/cycle path. I wholeheartedly agree with Jim Chisholm that half a cycleway is better than no cycleway and would add that the presence of a cycleway reminds pedestrians to look for oncoming cyclists – and I say that with feeling since I was knocked off my bike by a pedestrian stepping backwards into Trumpington High Street.

I do not like the access to the High Street (Trumpington) from Shelford Road. Staying on the road is dangerous, using the Toucan crossing onto the cycle/foot path is time consuming, and it is rarely possible to cycle on the path. Emerging from the path into the cycle lane the lights are behind you and it is difficult to see if it is safe to proceed.

There has also been no improvement to the cycle footpath on the opposite side of the road (runs from Shelford Road to middle of Anstey Way) and still no request to the bus queue not to block the path.

Further along the High Street, the right turn from High Street into Church Street is impossible. There is no safe place to position yourself to wait for a gap in the traffic, and rarely a gap in the traffic anyway.

I notice that plans for the route through the allotments still only go as far as Foster Road. I have commented (several times to Dept. of Transport, Shire Hall) that we need an all-weather track to Addenbrooke’s with an exit at Foster Road-Paget Road school entrance.

At the traffic exhibition on 6 December people were clearly not happy with the High Street and most thought the Shelford Road bus lane impracticable.

Shirley Brown

Jim Chisholm comments:

The Campaign is also unhappy at some of the features of stage 1 improvements in this area. As you can see elsewhere in this Newsletter we are also objecting to some of the proposals for stage 2. Negotiations are continuing over off road routes in this area, but see Addenbrooke’s crossing in Newsletter 32 about safety of rail crossings, and More Major Planning Applications south of the City in this issue.

If it’s too narrow, it’s not a cycle lane at all

The Highway is different to a mud track in a forest in many ways. One of the ways it is different is the information presented to us is used to control the high density of multiple modes of transport, and to ensure there are no accidents.

Like wiring a mains socket plug, this is an interface. And like the plug, getting it wrong can be lethal. This is why there is a very clear standard on colours, layout, and design. You don’t get substandard plugs with dubious fittings. And when it does blow your hand off you don’t say ‘oh well – to be expected these days – at least I have a plug.’

Yet road planners display complete lack of this interface skill. There is no such thing as a narrow cycle lane in their view. It is a cycle lane – they can tick the box, and have no responsibility. If I were to design a plug which proved lethal because users failed to understand it readily I would be directly liable. How come planners get away with this?

A cycle lane should be wide enough for a trike or trailer buggy to pass along easily – not crunch through tyre-puncturing car debris in the gutter. Sustrans has specifications for this. This route should be very clearly defined and protected by the law. It should say so at key points, like it does in some cities (Ipswich for example). Why is there not a sign at ASLs ‘it is illegal to stop your vehicle in this space when lights are red’ or something? If it is not possible to make the path wide enough because it requires more money than a tin of paint and a clueless contractor, then that section should be earmarked for upgrading, and not bodged and forgotten. And yes, it does cost money to alter road widths, but hey, this is due to decades of short-sighted planning and the continual attempt to stuff more vehicles through our city. Just because councillors screwed it up for future generations doesn’t mean we can’t put it right for our children.

If there is one main reason for the ‘all or nothing’ approach, it is to stop County Transport Planners splashing a bit of white paint down and then wiping their hands of their responsibility to make the roads safe for all users.

A narrow lane with a dotted line fails under law, under interaction design, cycle provision, and under common sense.

In summary, no cycle lane at all is better than the limp offerings we are used to.

Matthew Polaine

Cycle map

In Newsletter 33, you ask for comments on the new cycle map to include all cycle paths, even those of poor quality, because cyclists have different reasons for using a path. If they find the path poor they can then make up their own mind about it. In my case, I needed a safe path for my young grandchild to Trumpington.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign can be proud of their contribution to the new map.

Ron Hall

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Does it just seem like forever waiting at these lights? (After I took this picture, they changed in 15 seconds for me.)

The new lights at Coldham’s Common

I have a few comments on your article about Coldham’s Common junction in Newsletter 33. I use this junction on my daily journey to work and I agree that, from the safety point of view, the actual junction itself is much improved. However, I balk slightly at the conclusion that ‘this is how it should be done’.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m pleased that the improvements have been done, and credit for them is deserved. As you correctly point out, though, problems for cyclists on that part of Coldham’s Lane still remain.

The length of the light sequence is a problem, and has tempted me to jump the junction on many occasions, although the rational side of me recognises that a wait is a small price to pay for improved safety (even if it is as much as 7 minutes – well, long enough to get me pretty well-chilled and impatient, but that may not make for very accurate time estimation).

The real problem that the junction changes have uncovered, rather than caused, is on Cromwell Road. Travelling towards Coldham’s Lane I have often found the narrowings hazardous, and have witnessed (and participated in) a number of near misses as cars overtake cyclists and then pull straight across the cycle lane in front of them to give priority to an oncoming car.

This is also one of Cambridge’s ‘parked car in the cycle lane’ black spots. The changed light sequence, however, has caused long tailbacks on Cromwell Road, heading for Coldham’s Lane, and this has significantly worsened the cycling safety problem.

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Rumours of a separate bridge for cyclists across the railway at Coldham’s Lane have recently come to light.

Stationary traffic is often found queuing for the lights, and one car in three seems to be in the cycle lane. This forces cyclists either to queue (anathema where there’s a mandatory cycle lane), onto the pavement (not at all ideal, or legal), or down the middle of the road. The cycle priority box at the lights is very small, and I have to struggle to think of an occasion when there wasn’t a car in it at the head of the queue (queuing seems to do that to drivers).

So, I’d agree that safety at the actual junction is much improved, but the problems in Cromwell Road have been worsened, and, as you point out, the railway bridge remains to be tackled. I hate to be a voice of gloom-as I said, credit where credit’s due-but I wouldn’t want to give the Council the impression that all cycling issues at the junction and its approach have been resolved.

Chris McBride

To be fair to the Council, the bollards in Cromwell Road weren’t part of the junction changes, but are being considered for change. We have also recently heard rumours that some action may be taken in the not-too-distant future to provide a cycle bridge across the railway here. But more than ten years ago I had been hearing rumours as well. Dave

Summer compliments on Newsletter 13 – 1997

Your newsletter was the only place on the Internet I could find with actual instructions on how to mend a punctured tyre. Thank you! I had both tyres punctured within a couple of days when I have had none in the previous seven years or so of owning my bike.

So many of the places I found searching for ‘fix a puncture’ or ‘mend a puncture’ led me to sites where they mentioned a person would have to know how to do such a thing to get their scout badges, or to go on a cycling trip etc. and very few had anything more explicit than ‘patch the punctured tube’. So thanks again!

Madeleine Ware, New Zealand

All our Newsletters are archived on the Campaign web site. You can find all sorts of useful articles. Mark.