Trumpington Road improvements?

This article was published in 2001, in Newsletter 39.

Those of you unfortunate enough to have been using Trumpington Road for the last five months will know that cyclists appear to belong to an underclass. The requirements for safety, comfort and convenience for them lie well below those for motorists, Park and Ride passengers, and pedestrians. To put this into context, in 1997 the Campaign counted some 1300 cyclists in 12 hours on Trumpington Road south of Long Road, and flows will be much higher at the Brooklands Avenue end.

Obstructions on shared use path

The improvement of some two miles of shared use have made this a ‘disaster area’ for cyclists. Although work started in July (see Newsletter 37), from Brooklands Avenue to Exeter Close on Shelford Road only one short section is finished, with much of the remaining sections ending up with loose and uneven surfaces obstructed by lighting columns and street furniture.

These improvements are not primarily aimed at benefiting cyclists but, instead, allow road space to be used for bus lanes. Unlike some cyclists I’m not against this if it is part of a plan designed to reduce the amount of motor vehicles entering the city, and if the cycle route is of high quality. Unfortunately, here I don’t consider the means justifies the end, where a high quality route and other objectives are slowly being diluted.

This work is supposed to be supervised by WS Atkins (Consulting Engineers), and I had thought the plan was to complete all cycleway works by the start of the school term in September. I met Richard Preston of the County Council in May to look at working drawings prepared by the consultants, and a number of items were raised at that time. I felt the meeting was positive and it was agreed that I could email WS Atkins if I had concerns. I have never had a single reply to any of my emails to WS Atkins.

Time and space prevent me from listing all the things that have gone wrong, but I will detail some problems.

  • Many lighting columns are being renewed as part of this scheme, and some 25 of the old ones stand in or next to the cycleway. Although some of the new ones are now operational the only column removed so far is the only one that obstructed roadworks.
  • Manholes and other ironwork have to be raised in advance of final surfacing. On roads it is normal for these to have temporary patching and notices (Beware of Raised Ironwork) for the few days before completion of a finished surface. This ironwork can cause problems for cyclists particularly in the wet or dark. Yet despite reporting this on more than one occasion, some totally unprotected raised ironwork has remained on the cycle path since early September.
  • Disability regulations require that, where a path changes from segregated to unsegregated shared-use, ‘corduroy’ slabs must exist with opposite orientations to differentiate pedestrian and cycle sections. Although on the narrow section of Shelford Road the slabs are laid with a cycle path of 1.7 m and foot path of 1.0 m., the final coloured surface has been laid with two equal widths of 1.35 m! This was reported the day after the surface was laid, yet a month later no action has been taken.
  • Parts of the existing shared use path on Trumpington Rd were ‘cold planed’ to provide a new base for the final surface. Many weeks later this has still not been laid. The debris – planings – was not removed but just left there. In wet weather this produces an effect like riding on a shingle beach. It was only after complaints to the Health and Safety Executive that any attempt was made to remove them.
  • At the Brooklands Avenue junction there is a very heavy flow of pedestrians and cyclists on the shared-use path on the west side, many of whom are going to and from the schools in this area. This route crosses the light-controlled exit from Chaucer Road, yet this is the only pedestrian/cycle movement that does not have ‘toucan’ lights.

At the time of writing we are only two weeks from the opening of the new Trumpington Park and Ride site. Then it is proposed to narrow the inbound lane to 3.0 metres over a long section north of Long Road to provide space for an outbound bus lane. Will this be done even though the works on the cycleway are incomplete? What should cyclists do then: drive to the park and ride and catch a bus, or obstruct traffic in the narrow vehicle lane?

It is very clear that it was possible to schedule much of the disruptive work on the road to just the half term week, so why is it not possible to have the same standards of scheduling and control for works on cycle and foot paths?

Jim Chisholm