Clearing East Road

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 49.

We recently wrote to The Cambridge Projects Manager on the subject of extending the clearway on East Road.

At present, during much of the day, car parking and stopping near the shops leading to the junction of East Road and Norfolk Street forces cyclists to move into the main traffic stream, in a way which can provoke some car drivers stuck behind cyclists into making dangerous overtaking manoeuvres. Following the junction, vehicles return to normal speed again, indicating the congestion being caused.

We have long wished to see the joining up of the stretches of cycle lane all the way from Newmarket Road to the Royal Cambridge Hotel junction

We pointed out that, as well as improving conditions for cyclists, extending the operational times of the clearway would also smooth the flow of traffic from the congested Gonville Place, an increasingly important concern in the light of Stage 3 of the Core Scheme, which places additional burdens on the ring road.

The County Council’s response agreed with us that extension of the clearway ‘would undoubtedly improve conditions for cyclists.’ Perhaps not suprisingly, it was also stated that it would ‘have a significant effect on the businesses along East Road.’ This balance with efficient flow along the ring road and cycle safety is something which councillors would need to take into account if any such change were to be formally proposed.

Our opportunity to bring this to councillors may come up later this year, when Officers report to the Area Joint Committee in October on the next element of the Core Traffic Scheme, which will focus on the Regent Street-Parkside area.

‘We have heard reports that this change is being introduced not to increase traffic capacity but to allow emergency vehicles to pass queuing traffic. If this is genuinely the case then there is no need to introduce an additional lane. All that is needed is to remove the central islands. The additional carriageway width could then be used to provide cycle lanes.’

Some members of the Campaign have long wished to see the joining up of the stretches of cycle lane all the way from Newmarket Road to the Royal Cambridge Hotel junction. This would have the effect of enabling cyclists to bypass a better-ordered vehicle queue in East Road. Unfortunately, the dream of such an integrated route, of which East Road would form a part, has been stopped by changes to Gonville Place, where a central traffic lane is being proposed as part of the measures to cope with the knock-on effects of Silver Street. As we pointed out in our letter, however:

‘No budget has yet been identified for [the Norfolk Street-East Road crossing upgrade]’

We also asked about the proposal of upgrading the Norfolk Street junction to a toucan crossing. It was confirmed that the Area Joint Committee had supported this upgrade but that ‘no budget has yet been identified for this work and staff resources are stretched at present. However, I hope to make progress on this later this year.’ Changes to this crossing would be most welcome.

Martin Lucas-Smith