This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 65.
Just after the article on Arbury Camp (also now known as Arbury Park) in the last newsletter was finalized, the stage 2 and stage 2a safety audit documents for the development became available to the Campaign. These are vdated Jan-Feb 2004 and 27 July 2004, before the October 2004 date given on the plans that we have copies of. We have not seen any newer safety audits.
The safety audits make interesting reading. Many of the points made by them are relevant to cyclists.
The Histon A14 junction roundabout is on the 2003 county accident site list. At the time of production of the safety audit, there had been 25 personal injury accidents since January 1998, three of which involved cyclists. A slight increase in the all red phase is recommended by the safety audit in order to reduce the risk of cyclists who are crossing the slip roads being hit by cars. It is noted that the shared-use path will be between the carriageway and the safety barrier and that this can cause out of control cars to career with obvious danger along the path. 0.5 m separation strips are recommended between the road and the path.
At the King’s Hedges Road-Cambridge Road junction, there have been 11 personal injury accidents. It is noted that ‘two wheeled vehicles feature highly in the statistics. 4 (36%) have involved pedal cyclists and 3 (27%) motorcyclists. This is double the county average for pedal cycles and three times that for motorcyclists.’ The long slip road is criticised because it leads to cyclists being cut up on the left. The safety audit notes that fast and confident cyclists will want to remain on the road and suggests that ‘the correct route for cyclists going straight ahead could also be highlighted using an advisory cycle lane with direction arrows.’ From scale drawings, the audit suggests that the cycle lane on Cambridge Road past the junction will be a mere 1.2 m wide. This is narrower than the 1.5 m minimum for infrequently cycled roads given in the London design standards.
The audit notes the lack of advanced stop lines for cyclists at the junctions and recommends that they should be installed.
The 3 stage pedestrian crossing of Cambridge Road is criticised for its complexity and for the risk that people will look the wrong way when crossing this complex junction or otherwise misinterpret it.
The Arbury Road-King’s Hedges Road junction is also on the 2003 county accident list with seven injuries since 1998, none involving cyclists. Here the audit criticises the short cycle lanes which are often mis-used by drivers and the central islands.
The mounting height for signs over the shared use path is shown on the plans as just 2.15m. The recommended height is 2.7m. The audit notes that ‘ideally posts should be outside the line of the cycletrack.’
The audit notes that the lighting arrangement around the crossing ‘does not appear to provide suitable illumination for safe use by pedestrians at night.’
In another area it is noted that ‘The cycleway crosses the bus access (junction 4) immediately after the 90° bend in the road.’ and that this along with an expected forest of signs could confuse drivers.
‘The end of cycleway on Arbury Road discharges on the main carriageway just short of the school entrance. There are no on road facilities here and no give way marking to encourage cyclists to join the carriageway with due caution.’ The recommendation is ‘Ideally extend the cycleway to reduce the risk of conflict for children cycling to the school.’
It is noted that to the west of the Arbury Road crossroads, the road is visually narrowed using hatching and that ‘This means that any cyclists who choose to stay on the road have to share the 3.5m running lane with all other vehicles unless they cross the solid white line and ride over the thermoplastic hatching.’ The recommendation is that the hatching should be narrowed and that there should be a cycle lane here (though sadly in this area of high cycle usage they recommend a width of 1.2m, which is below the minimum in the London standards for relatively cycle free roads).
Sadly, the audit suggests installation of guardrails at crossings, which I’m sure most cyclists find to be nothing but an obstruction. Where a pelican crossing is shown as not being staggered, they actually suggest staggering it and installing guard rails on the grounds of safety.
Where a cycle path is shown with a tight turning radius, the safety audit offers instead a minimum radius of 15m, or 20m on commuter routes – of which this is surely one.
A problem is noted of signalled crossings not including pedestrian crossing facilities.
The problem of the path shown on the plan not continuing to provide any helpful access to CRC and the Science Park is flagged up. They note that ‘cyclists usually take the most direct route. Once familiar with the route they are likely to rejoin the carriageway at junction 6 although there are no on road cycle facilities at this junction… Where the main path deviates to the north, provide a “fork” in the path leading them to the kerb side of King’s Hedges Road around 100m to the east of the junction.’ and ‘clear directional signing for the cycleway should be provided.’
There is a comment that ‘the carriageway width between the islands at this junction ranges from 3.3m to 3.65m, which lies in the range that can lead to problems with conflict between cars and cycles.’
There are other good points, but reproducing more of the safety audit here would be excessive. Overall, it seems the safety audits did flag many of the problems that we have seen with the plans and implementation. Sadly, it seems that their concerns have in large part been ignored.