Science Park – no access for cycles

This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 40.

‘The County Council would never have done something so incompetent’

Access to the Science Park has always been a problem for cyclists. The main entrance is on Milton Road, on the opposite side of the park from the residential areas of King’s Hedges and Arbury, and at a point where there are five lanes of traffic and the speed limit is 70 mph. For many years cyclists living in King’s Hedges and Arbury have been forced either to take a long detour via the main entrance or else to use an unofficial ‘entrance’ off Garry Drive that entails wheeling your bike across a disused railway line and over a steep and muddy bank.

Image as described adjacent
One of the main vehicle lanes. Car drivers and cyclists have to merge carefully approaching this narrow section

Last autumn a new entrance was opened off King’s Hedges Road near Cambridge Regional College. This should have been good news for cyclists. However, it is quite the opposite – this new entrance to the Science Park has been made one of the most cycle-hostile streets in Cambridge. Unfortunately this is a private road and so there is little that we can do.

In order to prevent this entrance being used by lorries, vehicles entering and leaving the site have to pass through a pair of 6’6″ width restrictions. Access through each of these gaps is controlled with a rising step (which we haven’t seen in operation yet). In between the two car lanes is a slightly wider lane for buses (for use in both directions), controlled by a rising bollard.

As if the width restrictions weren’t bad enough (forcing cyclists and car drivers to compete for the same narrow gaps), when the steps are raised they will render the lane totally impassable to cyclists and force them into the middle of the road to use the bus gate – not a pleasant thing to have to do, especially if a bus is approaching from the opposite direction.

Image as described adjacent
A closer view of the width restriction’s rising step. When raised, this will force cyclists to use the central bus gate

The pavement on the outbound side (away from the Science Park) is marked as shared-use and so offers an alternative to the road for outbound cyclists. However, there aren’t any dropped kerbs to allow cyclists to get onto the pavement before the rising step and to allow them to rejoin the road after it. There’s no pavement on the inbound side so cyclists travelling towards the science park would have to cross over to the pavement on the opposite side or, more likely, take their chances with the bus gate.

This is one of the most cycle-hostile pieces of road design we have seen for some time. This scheme was designed by the private developers of the science park, not by the County Council. If there is any consolation in this deplorable scheme it is that the County Council would never have done something so incompetent.