Cycling provision in Radegund and Davy roads: a response

This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 38.

We have much sympathy with most of the arguments put forward in objection to various points in our article giving our personal views on road planning for Radegund and Davy Roads (Newsletters 36 and 37). All of us agree that traffic speed reduction is imperative and that this should be accomplished without the use of build-outs which are dangerous for on-road cyclists.

Our main concern was and is with the needs of the more than 600 schoolchildren aged from four to sixteen who will soon be attending Coleridge Community College and who will be drawn from an area on both sides of Radegund and Davy Roads. Public transport from the catchment area to the school barely exists and we believe that it is in everyone’s interest that as many as possible of these children should cycle or walk to school and as few as possible should be taken to school by car. Our cycling community should remember that cycling to school is a major, perhaps the major, source of recruitment of adult cyclists and that cycling to school is in decline.

We believe that if parents are to feel confident about cycling to school with their young children and about allowing their older children to cycle on their own, off-road as well as on-road routes must be provided. Even if traffic speeds are reduced, it is unlikely that many parents of primary school children will be convinced that on-road cycling in Radegund Road is safe for them in the rush hour. The greatest danger is obviously the mêlée of cars pulling in and out and doors opening at the dropping-off points outside the school.

The off-road cycle paths we proposed for each side of Radegund and Davy Roads would not be next to the road. Instead they would be alongside the existing pavements but segregated from them and built over the inner edge of the wide grass verges. The residual verge would still be wide and would mean that young cyclists approaching the school would be well away from the wheels and doors of the cars in the chaotic dropping-off zone. From the surveys Campaign members have carried out in Trumpington Road and Queen Edith’s Way ( Newsletters 13 and 18), we know that where there is a choice between on-road and off-road routes, a surprisingly high proportion of cyclists opt for the off-road routes. We believe that such a choice is important, particularly for children, but also for other learners, for those lacking in confidence and for the elderly. Cycling and the Cycling Campaign are not only for skilled and confident cyclists.

Radegund and Davy Roads are, we believe, very suitable for segregated off-road cycle paths of the Barton Road type. There are only two side roads on Radegund Road, one of which is a cul-de-sac and the other, directly opposite, carries virtually no through traffic. Davy Road has no side roads on one side and one cul-de-sac and an in-and-out driveway to flats on the other. In all of these cases a raised red crossing giving cyclists and pedestrians priority over road traffic (or at least equal priority as in Barton Road) should be effective. In the case of Radegund Road the two crossings could be part of a table extending across the road as part of the measures to reduce traffic speeds.

The crossing of Coleridge Road is problematic for three reasons: the speed of the traffic in Coleridge Road, the fact that so much traffic turns at the junction and the fact that visibility to the right when coming out of Radegund Road is poor because of parked cars. Traffic movement at this junction – vehicle, pedestrian and, especially, cycle – is likely to increase substantially in the near future because of the developments which we mentioned in our article. We favour traffic lights, but a raised table like the one at the junction of Rock Road and Hartington Grove might be a possible alternative.

Most adult cyclists will quite rightly continue to use the road. Provision and entitlement for them must be strengthened, not weakened. But we should not be deterred from creating options for off-road cycling on segregated paths for children, for less confident cyclists and for the elderly. What we saw on the Campaign visit to Münster reinforces our personal view that off-road provision helps to stimulate the increased cycle use that we all wish to see.

James and Lisa Woodburn