River bridges

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 49.

In February we received an e-mail from Ann Fiddes, a Campaign member, on the problems she was facing due to the barriers on the Fort St George-Pretoria Road footbridge. Ann described the problems in Newsletter 47. Many other bridges over the Cam have similar problems: inappropriate obstructions or footpath (rather than cycle way) status. Ann also contacted a number of councillors on the issue, several of whom took an interest and themselves contacted Officers at Cambridgeshire County Council to see what could be done.

We were therefore extremely pleased when an on-site meeting with Councillors, Officers and ourselves was arranged. In the space of a few weeks, Ann had kicked off an issue that the Campaign had itself tried to raise over several years.

The meeting took the form of a tour of seven of the river bridges: Green Dragon, Fort St George, Sheep’s Green, Garret Hostel, the Mill Weir (by the Mill public house), Cutter Ferry, and the bridge by Jesus Lock. The meeting was very positive, and a number of areas for improvement were identified which could potentially lead to cycling being legally allowed over these bridges. Many of these measures could also improve the pedestrian environment, currently worsened by the presence of bollards and other obstructions. We followed up the meeting with a letter outlining the points discussed.

It was clear that, generally, cycling over these bridges did not itself cause problems, but the excessive speed of a few inconsiderate cyclists did. A working party, consisting of further council officers and ourselves, as well as a representative of Living Streets (the Pedestrians’ Association), met to consider the issues in more detail. We discussed designs which might reduce excessive speed and other measures which would facilitate legal cycling. This was another very positive and constructive meeting, which again we followed up with a letter.

The most recent development was a meeting at the Bike Week breakfast to try out a new bollard arrangement for the Green Dragon bridge. Using the temporary cycle parking scaffold brought to the breakfast by Committee member Jim Chisholm, a variety of potential arrangements were tried. Some difficulty was found here because of the width of the bridge, but we are confident that a solution can be found, given the will to do so.

We understand that the measures proposed will need to be approved by others at the County Council. We hope that the consensus that has been achieved can be carried forward and that the proposed improvements, possibly started as experimental measures, will allow Green Dragon Bridge to lose its ‘cyclists dismount’ status. We will keep you updated.

We congratulate Ann for the fuss she made in bringing this problem to the attention of councillors, since it has allowed all these bridges to be looked at by the County Council. This shows again how important it is for individual members of the Campaign to write to raise their concerns.

Martin Lucas-Smith