Cycling on the A14

An inquest on 30 June was told how 31-year-old Alexei Stepanov was killed as he cycled along the eastbound carriageway of the A14 near Dry Drayton on 13 December last year. His new mountain bike was hit from behind by a Volvo articulated lorry. Alexei was wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket and a helmet. He had red flashing lights on both his bike and bag. The Coroner, David Morris, said: ‘Alexei was well marked and riding appropriately…’ The lorry driver is apparently to be charged only with driving without due care and attention (from a report in the Cambridge Evening News on 1 July 2005).

Because of the very heavy traffic, the Cambridgeshire section of the A14 is not pleasant to cycle along and does not carry the number of cyclists that would otherwise be expected. In spite of the small number of cycle users compared with other local roads, cycle casualty figures are high. The figures in the table which follows were helpfully provided by Graham Amis of Cambridgeshire County Council’s Environment and Transport Department.

Cycle Casualties on the A14

Year Fatal Serious Slight Total
1995 1 1 2
1996 1 1
1997 2 2 4
1998 1 1
1999 1 2 1 4
2001 1 1 2
2003 1 2 3
2004 1 1 2

Normally the Campaign advocates priority for on-road provision for cycling, but we feel that in the case of the A14 priority should be given to off-highway cycle paths. Here is the Campaign’s response to the recent consultation on the future of the A14:

‘Cambridge Cycling Campaign receives regular representations from members and other cyclists about the major problems of cycling along the A14 and the absence of satisfactory direct alternative routes.

‘We ask that, whatever design is selected for the A14, proper provision is made to accommodate cyclists. In the case of the A14 we consider that off-highway cycle paths are needed along both sides of the road. They should be away from the highway, perhaps behind a hedge to give some protection from splashing, headlamp blinding and, of course, vehicle collisions.

‘They should be constructed to the most recent standards for cycle paths, with particular attention to the need for adequate width and the proper treatment of junctions. They should be machine-laid with adequate foundations and provide a surface that is at least as good as the surface of the adjacent road.

‘These cycle paths are essential because of the level of cycling in Cambridge and its surroundings. Here more than 25% of people cycle to work. This is much the highest figure in the UK and nearly twice as many as the next most popular UK cycling places such as Oxford and York. Cycling here is as important as public transport. We consider that it is unacceptable to provide direct roads for motorists unless equally direct ways for cyclists are provided alongside as they are in those parts of continental Europe where cycling levels are similar to those in the Cambridge area.’

James Woodburn