This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 44.
Every year Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Transport Department produces a set of reports and plans about the road network. This year the department has changed the format of these documents (which are also available on the Web): there are now six documents, although so far I’ve obtained only three of them.
Traffic Monitoring 2001
This report describes the routine monitoring that takes place throughout the year using Automatic Traffic Counters, manual ‘cordon’ and ‘screen line’ counts, and some other special counts.
Last year the Campaign produced a poster which stated that more people cycled (5,733) into Cambridge than used Park & Ride (5,382) each weekday.
These figures came from last year’s report, and I’ve since realised the figures were for entering and leaving the city, and for entering and leaving the Park & Ride sites. This year I’ve compared the number boarding Park & Ride buses with half the number of cyclists crossing the cordon round the city. For October 2001 this gives 3,079.5 cycling and 2,864 using Park & Ride, so the headline on the Campaign poster is still correct!
In this report, table 3.4 gives details of growth in traffic entering Cambridge, but it omits cycles. For completeness, cycling increased by 7.5% between Oct 2000 and Oct 2001.
The report also gives some preliminary results of monitoring on the ‘improved’ Trumpington Road in January 2002. Of some 2,750 people travelling south along this road between 4 pm and 7 pm, some 20% were in buses and 10% were on cycles. Journey times by bus between the Royal Cambridge Hotel and Waitrose were some 5 minutes quicker than by car. As these counts were taken before the cycle path was finished, and cycling for six months (during the road improvements) had been an adventure, it is likely that cycle numbers were lower than normal. From our survey some years ago I would have expected twice this number of cyclists. It would also have been interesting to see ‘journey times’ for cyclists over this stretch, as I beat the bus most days.
This exercise has relevance for Hills Road where proposed changes could make trips by cycle significantly less attractive. We expect the County to make comprehensive ‘before’ studies of modal split and journey times by all modes on this route.
Road Safety Monitoring 2001
This report has a section on enforcement, which gives details on the effectiveness of ‘Safety Cameras’ (speed cameras). In Cambridgeshire there is now a partnership, approved by the government, which allows the cost of operating the cameras to be recovered from the fines paid. Unfortunately, new rules mean that some cameras may have to be removed as they are only allowed where there is a significant accident problem, and not where excessive speed discourages vulnerable road users from making trips. Nationally, a legal challenge has been made to this ruling, so there is some hope it may be overturned.
Otherwise I found this a disappointing report. Although there is clear evidence that minor schemes, especially those costing less than £20,000, have much better cost-benefit ratios, major schemes come in for much praise. For the A1(M) and similar schemes, it has been suggested by some people, that to report accident reductions on the ‘improved’ section and not to include increases in accidents elsewhere caused by ‘generated trips’ biases such statistics in favour of major schemes that increase capacity and reduce delays, against those that provide road danger reduction and hence improve conditions for vulnerable users.
Speed cameras: The County Council gets some of the money from fines now, but some cameras may have to be removed soon. That’s because the Government listened to the car lobby who said, in effect, that it’s OK to speed except where there have been lots of crashes.
Joint Road Accident Data 2001
This is the second year this report has been produced. It brings together accident data reported to the police (on STATS19 forms) with that collected at hospital accident and emergency departments and others.
It is becoming more common to use the word ‘crash’ rather than ‘accident’ to make it clear that crashes do not happen by accident. Perhaps next year I shall be able to report on the Joint Road Crash Data 2002 report.
Unfortunately, I can’t find the tables I’d find most interesting. I believe that most serious crashes involving cyclists occur on high-speed rural roads and that, in Cambridge, you are far less likely per kilometre cycled to be involved in a crash than elsewhere in the country. In the report, table 6.3 compares city with county, and urban with county rural, but does not differentiate killed or seriously injured (KSI) with slight injuries. (Table 6.5 does differentiate like this, but only tabulates by local authority area.)
It is worth noting that over recent years pedal cycle fatalities in Cambridge have been very low (1997-2000 average was zero), but unfortunately next year’s report will show that there has recently been a fatality. The motorist involved was subsequently charged with drink driving and failing to stop after an accident.