This article was published in 2005, in Newsletter 63.
The two Pelican crossings over Victoria Avenue are being converted into Toucans to enable cyclists to cross without dismounting (see Newsletter 61). The crossing nearest to the Four Lamps roundabout has been completed and is a great improvement.
There is a length of shared-use pavement between the two cattle grids onto Midsummer Common and there is a flush kerb to enable cyclists coming from Mitcham’s Corner to mount the pavement in order to reach the crossing. Regrettably there is no flush kerb for those coming from the Four Lamps to reach the crossing on the Jesus Green side of the road, or, indeed, to make their way down the plane-tree avenue. We will ask for one. We will also ask (once again) for the redundant pram arm to be removed from one of the posts at the entrance to the avenue.
The crossing nearest to the river is not yet complete (though this may happen by the time this newsletter reaches you). The lights are not yet in operation and it is not clear whether the central island will be widened.
After much persuasion and discussion this crossing is being constructed straight across from one path off the common to the one on the other side of the road. This means that cyclists can approach the cattle grid onto Midsummer Common at the correct angle and that pedestrians and cyclists do not have to get tangled together in order to go where they want.
Again, at this crossing there is no flush kerb to enable cyclists coming from the Four Lamps direction to mount the pavement in order to access the button on the lights.
It would be nice to see the cattle grid onto Midsummer Common made wider or a second grid put in as the present narrow grid creates an awkward pinch point. The prospect of this had been ruled out because of a nearby tree, but this tree has now been removed.
There are no detector loops at either crossing. Loops are devices in the path which sense a bicycle as it approaches the lights and activate the lights. You will see this in action particularly well on the approach to Gonville Place from Parker’s Piece. The ‘wait’ notice lights up at your approach. If there is no traffic on the road the lights will change fast.
The curious notion that there must be chicanes and guard rails wherever a cycleway crosses a main road, and that cyclists are only capable of stopping at a main road if they are approaching from another road along which all traffic is allowed, has, in this instance, been overcome. There are plenty of other cycle crossings where this has already been overcome – Queen’s Road, Gonville Place, Fen Causeway – but the notion seems to be deeply engrained.