Milton Road and Mere Way: A Missed Opportunity

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 65.

Milton Road toucan crossing.
Image as described adjacent

The Science Park and the Cowley Road area of Cambridge have seen greatly increased employment over the last few years. However, it is sadly the case that transport alterations in this area are virtually always of the variety that encourages travel by car.

Some history

Roughly ten years ago the road outside the Science Park was doubled in width in order to allow for more motor vehicles. The road was made rather less pleasant for cyclists to use, and at that time a two stage toucan crossing was installed for cyclists to use rather than providing for on-road cycling.

New works

The Milton Road A14 junction in the process of being altered.
Image as described adjacent

As is usually the result with road widening, this has turned out not to be enough. Drivers simply filled up the widened road they’d been provided with. So, recently we’ve seen a flurry of more extensive and expensive work around this area.

The works which are taking place now in this area include a proposal to increase the number of toucan crossings required to be operated by and waited for by cyclists and pedestrians crossing the road from the current two to three. This will be the second time that cyclist and pedestrian convenience at this location has been sacrificed in order temporarily to improve conditions for drivers.

Milton Road- A14 junction: earthworks like this don’t come cheap.
Image as described adjacent

What should be done?

There is an ancient right of way from the western end of the Science Park to Landbeach. It is a Roman road called Mere Way. Making this into a path usable year-round by cyclists would take just a small fraction of the money which is being spent on the roads to improve car access to the Science Park. Doing so would increase the likelihood of people from Landbeach, Histon, Impington and Cottenham deciding to commute to the Science Park, CRC and other locations in the north of Cambridge by bike. It would also provide a pleasant leisure route to the north from Cambridge.

This would benefit all – even those remaining in their cars who would find the number of other cars ahead of them reduced proportionately.

The Dutch experience: Crossing ten lanes of traffic in Eindhoven
Image as described adjacent

Such thinking should be a part of local transport policy.

The new crossing does not need to made three-stage and inconvenient with the addition of multiple barriers to cycling simply in order to cross a few lanes of traffic. Take a look at how the Dutch provide crossings of such roads.

Ten lanes of traffic are crossed in one stage by most cyclists and two by pedestrians. The green cycle phase is long enough for anyone travelling at more than walking pace to cross the lot in one go. No barriers obstruct anyone, and the central island is of comfortable size for anyone stuck on it.

In a cycle friendly city, this is the sort of facility we should be seeing.

David Hembrow