More on Radegund Road

This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 37.

The article by Lisa and James Woodburn on Radegund Road in the last newsletter generated quite a storm. We should have pointed out at the beginning that this was their personal opinion, and hadn’t been discussed collectively, although Lisa did indeed go to the meeting representing the Campaign. Because the article was written by two authors, some people took ‘we’ and ‘our’ to mean that the Cycling Campaign was advocating shared-use pavements in that road rather than the authors. We apologise for not making that clear.

The reason for the heat, however, was that, irrespective of whose opinions they were, lots of people thought the suggestions were examples of what not to do in Radegund Road.

Tony Raven said: I’ve just received the latest newsletter and, although it’s not a road that I use, I am very disappointed to see the Cycling Campaign recommending a segregated on-pavement cycle path as the ‘most important’ solution. It’s very well documented that such facilities are more dangerous than road cycling, especially when, as noted, ‘there are a few road junctions along Radegund and Davy Roads which the on-pavement cycling lanes would have to cross’. Across the page Nicholas Reckert’s letter amply illustrated the additional dangers to cyclists of conditioning motorists to believe that cyclists are not on the road.

Image as described adjacent
Exit from the shops at the Perne Road end

David Green said: As a daily user of Radegund Road, I am puzzled by the Campaign’s recommendation for pavement cycle paths. The main problem with this road is the speed of motor traffic. If suitable speed reducing ‘bumps’ are implemented, this problem disappears. As well as the danger to cyclists of conditioning people to believe that cyclists are not (and should not be) on the road, a careful look at the space available beside the footpaths (on the existing grass verges) along the road shows clearly how little space there is to build sufficient wide pavement cycle paths without moving many obstructions like trees and lamp posts. For this reason alone, I doubt the authorities will give much credence to the cycle path recommendation.

Kevin Bushell said: Last Saturday I had a good look at Radegund Road. I’m puzzled by proposals to build any cycle route on the path, it seems wholly inappropriate given the footways that adjoin the road. The primary objective for this road must be to reduce the maximum speed of people travelling along it. This may be most easily achieved by introducing a 20 mph zone, perhaps supplemented by small-scale traffic calming measures which do not alter road width.

Kevin went on to say: If the editor allows an article based on personal opinion (rather than on Campaign policy), then I expect to see a parallel article representing alternative opinions given equal print space.

Well, here we are. Jonathan and Vicky Larmour turned their suggestions into an article. For the record, these are also their personal opinions, and not necessarily the views of the Campaign.

Radegund Road revisited

Following on from the article by James and Lisa Woodburn about Radegund Road in the last Newsletter, we would like to make some alternative suggestions as to how traffic problems there could be improved.

First, some of our observations about the key problems in Radegund Road:

  • At school drop-off/pick-up hours the area around the school entrance is a nightmare: parents in cars stopping in inappropriate places; children running around; cars whose drivers are distracted by their young passengers; and many young children weaving around on bikes. The road is also busy with rush hour traffic (being next to the ring road), and it is often used as a rat-run to avoid queues.
  • Lane discipline is very poor, probably due to the lack of a centre white line. We have personally had near misses with oncoming cars whose drivers simply do not realise how much they are infringing on the other side of the road and how intimidating this is to oncoming cyclists.
  • Speeding is common, possibly due to the perception that Radegund Road is very wide.
  • There is an exit from the shops at the bottom of Radegund Road (Ring Road end) where drivers pull out without paying much attention. Additionally, there are often cars and vans parked around the exit from the shops. This means that drivers leaving the shops have difficulty seeing traffic coming down Radegund Road, or coming off the roundabout. There are already double yellow lines on one side of this junction but they are not well respected by shop visitors.

‘there is a risk that facilities may be provided that do not address the real problems of the area, just so that it can be claimed that something was done’

Our suggestions for improving the situation in Radegund Road would be the following, in order of priority:

  • Adding central road markings to demarcate the two lanes
  • Properly enforced double yellow lines around the exit from the shops at the Perne Road end, with ‘no loading’ restrictions
  • Proper give way markings at the egress from the shops

We are ambivalent as to whether speed cushions would be helpful and would prefer first to try the addition of a central white line to help the road ‘feel’ less wide open. Flat-topped speed humps can remain an option for later.

We specifically do not agree with two of the Woodburns’ suggestions: shared use (on-pavement) cycle paths, and traffic lights at the Davy Road junction.

We feel that on-road cycle lanes would be pointless due to the number of cars parked on the road, and the amount of setting down and picking up activity outside the school. For example, Gilbert Road has cycle lanes, but they are largely ignored by people parking cars, and they make the road more dangerous by encouraging poorer cyclists to weave in and out of the main traffic flow as they return to the cycle lane between parked cars.

However, we agree with the Campaign’s general position that on-pavement shared use cycle paths should be avoided whenever possible. Such paths make side junctions in particular very cycle-unfriendly, and many car drivers get irate at cyclists who prefer not to use the paths, as happens on Milton Road northbound.

In addition, shared use cycle paths inconvenience pedestrians who must take care to stay on ‘their’ half of the pavement or risk a collision. On Radegund Road in particular, mixing cyclists with primary school children (who certainly do not behave predictably) on the pavement seems like a recipe for disaster.

Image as described adjacent
The junction of Davy Road and Coleridge Road

We therefore feel that no on-pavement cycle paths or on road cycle lanes should be added on Radegund Road.

At the junction with Coleridge Road, we feel that traffic lights would be an unhelpful addition. After the Cattle Market redevelopment, the main flow of motor vehicles is likely to remain straight along Coleridge Road, whereas bicycles are more likely to be using Davy Road (to/from the cycle bridge over the railway, and access to the Cattle Market/The Junction via Clifton Road industrial estate) and Radegund Road (to get to the school and college). Since traffic lights would inevitably be set to default to green on Coleridge Road, cyclists would be kept waiting at Radegund Road and Davy Road, especially since induction loops in the road are notoriously bad at detecting waiting cyclists.

We find the cross-roads, even at peak times, not to be hugely busy. Cyclists never have to wait long to cross Coleridge Road.

We are glad that the Council is thinking of the needs of cyclists when considering the present and future use of Radegund Road. However, there is a risk that facilities may be provided that do not address the real problems of the area, just so that it can be claimed that something was done. A bigger risk is if those facilities put cyclists and pedestrians in conflict with each other and with car drivers.

Jonathan and Vicky Larmour

Footnote: At its meeting on July 2, the Cambridge Environment & Transport Area Committee decided that there should be further consultation on traffic calming measures in Radegund Road. Previously, officers had envisaged minor accident remedial measures in Coleridge Road, but feedback was that Radegund Road was more important.

The Cycling Campaign has not made any formal submission about the road. When Lisa Woodburn attended the meeting at Coleridge School on 4 April on behalf of the Campaign, she was, of course, well aware of the wide range of opinions on cycle lanes among Campaign members and so, notwithstanding her personal opinions, did not suggest either on-road or off-road cycle lanes for Radegund Road.