Local traffic facts

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 48.

The County Council has published its reports for last year, 2002. So far I’ve looked at two of them.

Traffic Monitoring Report 2002

The County issued a press release a short while ago trumpeting the reduction of motor vehicles in Cambridge, but of course that did not say they were not meeting their own targets for reduction of traffic.

The report itself says of the ‘Cam screen line’ count taken in May:

‘We are not quite hitting our target, although the 2002 [count] is the lowest recorded in 20 years’

Similarly motor traffic on the radial cordon is still over the target value of 170 000 vehicles per day, and this despite the fact that two of the largest Park and Ride sites are outside the cordon. Motor traffic entering Cambridge is still six percent higher than in 1992.

On cycle flows there has been little change, but I examined the report for details of the promised monitoring using automatic cycle counters. The 2000 Traffic Monitoring report stated:

‘Automatic cycle counting loops have been installed at eight sites in Cambridge. Information is being collected and will be reported in next years report’.

I’m aware that there have been problems with this equipment, but it is disappointing to find that two years later, within Cambridge it is only Barton Road (average daily flow 588) that is being reported.

Given that Local Transport Plans are partly funded by ‘public service agreements’ better cycle data would enable targets to be set, targets which if met can result in extra government money. Paradoxically, it is just such targets for increasing bus patronage which result in the narrowing of traffic lanes to provide bus lanes, that are making cycling more difficult in some sections of our city.

Another figure of interest is the significant increase in people entering or leaving the Cambridge railway station. The 2001 figure was probably affected by rail disruption, but at over 17 000, the 2002 figure is over 30% higher than in 1999. With these sort of increases it is of concern that the extra cycle racks, for which some government funding was available, have failed to materialise.

The full report can be found at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/sub/eandt/highways/tmr/

Joint Road Accident Report 2002

When two members of the committee met the Cambridgeshire Police’s Casualty Reduction Officer he made it clear that, contrary to national rules, within the County, officers should record injury accidents even if no motor vehicle is involved (see also ‘Crash’ in Newsletter 47). Unfortunately it is not clear if such accidents will appear in the main part of the above report, as it specifically deals with ‘STATS 19’ data; STATS 19 being the nationally agreed form for the collection of accident data by the police.

When looking at the new sections in the ‘2000’ report which deal with data from Accident and Emergency data from hospitals for ‘Land based transport accidents’ it was clear that a very significant number of cyclists were arriving at hospital without the incidents being reported to the police. These anomalies still exist in this 2002 report.

If the data in this report is to be used to help reduce cycle casualties it is important that these inconsistencies are resolved.

Section 11 deals in some detail with fatal accidents that have occurred in recent years (1997-2001). Some items are reported in bold within this section and it is worth repeating a few:

  • Some deaths occurred due to obstruction of the airway or asphyxiation. Simple first aid from bystanders would almost certainly have prevented death in these cases.
  • The greatest scope for reducing road accident lies in stopping the accident in the first place.
  • The total cost to society of these 329 road traffic related deaths in Cambridgeshire exceeds four hundred and fifty million pounds.

Full details of this report are at www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/sub/eandt/roadacc/

Jim Chisholm