More on Milton Road bus lane proposal

This article was published in 2003, in Newsletter 50.

On 11 September, detailed plans for the new length of Milton Road bus lane were presented by County Council officials at a consultation.

We have campaigned vigorously against this length of bus lane which severely damages facilities for cyclists, well over a thousand of whom use Milton Road each day (see Newsletter 47). As a result of our campaigning, councillors asked for more information before taking a decision and it is this information which has now been presented.

The proposed new bus lane runs north-east along Milton Road from just before Woodhead Drive to just before King’s Hedges Road. The most damaging effects on cyclists would be when they are cycling in the opposite direction, towards the city centre. Inbound cyclists would have to choose between cycling on the road in a narrowed traffic lane (three metres wide) where they would be harassed by motorists or on a too narrow (1.5 metres wide) segregated cycleway on the pavement which has to cross three side roads. On the outbound side of the road cyclists would have a choice between cycling in the narrow (three metres wide) bus lane or on the 1.5 metre wide segregated pavement cycleway which has to cross two side roads.

The most innovative element in the scheme is that, probably for the first time in Cambridge, cyclists would be given priority over motorists when crossing a side road at a road junction. Pedestrians have, of course, always had this priority (Highway Code, rule 182) and cyclists have such priority in much of continental Europe. Strangely, however, the priority would apply only to one side road of the five (Woodhead Drive). At the other four, cyclists would have to give way. All five crossings would be ramped.

At two of the side roads (Cook Close and Fraser Road) the crossings would go straight across. At the other three crossings cyclists and pedestrians would have to divert and to cross a few metres down the side road. Officials claim that such diversions are needed on safety grounds. But this is a strange claim as cyclists crossing directly are a straightforward extension of pedestrians crossing directly. Established continental cycleway practice demonstrates that direct crossings do not create unacceptable risks for cyclists or motorists. Diversions are a problem for cyclists because they make it more difficult to see turning vehicles and also increase the likelihood of conflict with pedestrians.

We will continue to campaign against the bus lane. Councillors will make their decision on the scheme at the next meeting of the Joint Area Transport Committee on 20 October.

Formal responses to the consultation have to be submitted by Monday 29 September. If you wish to express your opinions about whether the bus lane proposal should be accepted or rejected, you should email or write to Alistair Frost at Box ET1017, Cambridgeshire County Council, Shire Hall, Castle Hill, Cambridge CB3 OAP.

James Woodburn