The accident reduction schemes which we reported last year in Newsletters 47 and 49 have now been largely completed. We were critical of quite a few aspects of these schemes, especially those aspects intended to help cyclists. Part of our criticism was about the consultation and decision-making process. Our submissions, and those from others, were largely ignored or rejected. Now that the work has been done, we thought it was time for review.
Mowbray Road-Queen Edith’s Way roundabout
At Mowbray Road and Queen Edith’s Way, there have been some minor changes to the roundabout. These include the now familiar black and white chevrons built into the fabric of the island. Regular users of this junction will be familiar with the tyre grooves which used to be ploughed across the centre of the island from time to time, though quite how drivers could fail to see it is a mystery. It should now be more distinct, though the consequences of the harder surface and higher walls might make any crash more severe. However, the changes are relatively minor and really don’t address the main problem for cyclists: the Mowbray Road entry to the roundabout is too obscured and too close to Queen Edith’s Way, making it difficult to see if it is safe to join the roundabout westbound from Queen Edith’s Way.
Cherry Hinton Road
On Cherry Hinton Road, the Pelican crossing by Cherry Hinton Hall has been replaced by a Toucan and the off-road approaches to it made more cycle friendly. This legalises an already common manoeuvre and especially benefits students at Netherhall School.
Red strips have been laid across the mouths of side roads to emphasise the presence of cycles on the road, and anti-skid road surfaces have been installed. We expected that red surfacing would be applied on both sides of Cherry Hinton Road, but none has been applied on the northern, Cherry Hinton Hall, side.
More strangely, small signs saying ‘Think Bike’ have gone up along the road. The council committee which approved the schemes expressly asked that this should not be done, and rightly so. It has been done anyway.
We were most critical of the scheme on Coldham’s Lane, where advisory cycle lanes have been installed. We said that they were too narrow. Whilst 1.2 metres might have been all right at a pinch in some places, the problem here is that they run alongside parking bays. This means that the lane forces the cyclist into the path of thoughtlessly opened car doors.
We are still worried by this aspect of the scheme now it is complete, though the lanes do feel somewhat wider in use than we had expected. Putting the safety aspect aside, we have to say that the lanes enormously improve convenience for cyclists on Coldham’s Lane. It is now possible to bypass the traffic queues which often form all the way from the Brooks Road roundabout near Sainsbury’s to Coldham’s Lane bridge and vice-versa. Journey times by bike are much improved, but great care is needed to watch for car doors opening into the lane.
The Cherry Hinton Road arrangement of red surfacing across side road junctions is what we would have preferred on Coldham’s Lane. Queuing traffic would keep away from the side of the road so that bikes could get through without a formal lane which leaves too little room alongside the parking bays.
On Perne Road, near the Brookfields junction, misleading pavement markings remain. We have heard that the cost of removing the long-standing obstructions on the cycle path means that we almost certainly will still have to give way to a phone box!
King’s Hedges Road
Problems with electricity cables have arisen over the King’s Hedges Road scheme and it has not yet been implemented.
On Barton Road, the installation of a Toucan crossing close to the junction with Grantchester Road is welcome, but some of the details of the associated work on the southern pavement are a problem. The pavement surface outside No. 71 should be red because cyclists need to use the dropped kerb there to access the crossing. No blue shared-use signs have been put up yet to indicate that cyclists are entitled to cycle on the pavement near the crossing nor have any bicycles been painted on the pavement surface.
The dropped kerb on the town side of Grantchester Road is not truly flush with the road and is at an awkward angle for cyclists using the crossing and turning into or out of Grantchester Road. Cycling over a kerb that is not flush at an oblique angle is unsafe. It should be made flush and extended for an additional metre or two along Grantchester Road. Work on the verges should be completed as much mud is spreading onto the shared-use pavement.
We are very pleased that one of our suggestions appears to have been accepted. Councillors asked that the proposed build-out at the entrance to Grange Road should be reconsidered and it has not been built. We had argued that a build-out there would be dangerous for on-road cyclists. But we are sorry to see that obstructions remain which obscure traffic approaching along Barton Road for road users coming out of Grange Road. Councillors had asked for removal of these obstructions to be considered.
We believe that the large sign saying Traffic Calmed Area, the newly-planted tree and the telegraph pole serving only two houses should all be urgently removed from the grass verge on the out-of-town side of the Grange Road junction before they cause an accident. It would also be sensible to remove a couple of on-road car parking spaces to give a clearer view of on-coming traffic.
All of these schemes are intended to remedy high accident rates at these locations. We urge the adoption of the suggestions we make here for Cherry Hinton Road and Barton Road as these would, we believe, make a low-cost contribution to accident reduction.
David Earl and James Woodburn