Bus shelters on shared-use paths

This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 35.

A new bus shelter on the north side of Cherry Hinton Road, outside Cherry Hinton Hall, has created problems for both cyclists and pedestrians. Several cyclists and pedestrians have had ‘close shaves’ on this shared use path as passengers step out to meet an approaching bus. The picture makes the reason for this conflict clear. The solid advertisement board at one end of the shelter blocks cyclists’ view so they are unable to anticipate when people will emerge from the shelter. Additional factors that add to the hazards of this shelter design are the busy nature of the road and the fact that the path is part of the cycle route to Netherhall School.

Imagine a worst-case scenario: a parent tries to control her toddler as she picks up the buggy, checks the number on the approaching bus and steps out to attract the attention of the driver. Add in bad weather and peak school leaving times, and it is not hard to see what might happen.

The puzzle is why this shelter was not located 180� to its current position and without the advertising end. In fact the very next stop along Cherry Hinton Road has such a design.

Image as described adjacent
A similar shelter on Milton Road: why was it not sited against the road avoiding conflict between cyclists and pedestrians stepping out to attract the attention of a bus driver?

Apparently, the location of the new shelter was based on a requirement for 600-700 mm between shelter edge and kerb (to allow buses to pull in) and the belief that a position away from the kerb occupied less of the path. However, given that the open design has not presented major problems, at least to the Campaign’s knowledge, surely the Council made the wrong decision. An immediate part-solution is simply to remove the end panel. The Council has suggested painting the pavement and erecting a barrier, but it is hard to see how these would be really effective. And why add more obstructions? Advertising may bring in important income, but should never be allowed to compromise safety. It should also be recognised that forcing cyclists to ride next to the kerb means that people alighting from the bus could step straight into a cyclist’s path. The only satisfactory solution would appear, therefore, to totally remove the panel and reposition the shelter against the kerb. Let us hope that the Council recognises its error and makes these changes before a pedestrian steps out and forces a cyclist into the path of an oncoming car.

Martyn Smith

Bus shelters: stop press

We were alerted to the problems with the Cherry Hinton bus shelter at the start of February. Having confirmed that there was indeed a problem, we set about obtaining a complete list of the replacement bus shelters. Disappointingly, this took nearly a month, because Cambridge City Council sent us to Adshel (the advertising company that supplies the bus shelters, and profits from the advertising), and Adshel, of course, sent us back to the City Council.

When the list finally arrived, we inspected almost all the sites within 24 hours, and identified three particularly serious further problems.

  • On Milton Road, by the junction with Green End Road, problems are at least as bad as the site by Cherry Hinton Hall.
  • On Hills Road, by the junction with Long Road, the same design is about to be installed, and it, too, will cause the same visibility and space problems.
  • On Trumpington Road, opposite Bentley Road, problems are compounded by the shelter being close to a lamp-post.

We have written to the City Council, asking for urgent action (within days) to resolve these problems, for the Hills Road-Long Road shelter not to have an end panel, and for future policy to ensure full visibility at all bus shelters on shared-use pavements and off-road cycle lanes.

We have been told that the Council and Adshel are aware of the problems, and are trying to resolve them. We very much hope there will be better news to report next issue.

Clare Macrae