This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 66.
The Arbury Camp juggernaut continues unabated.
At the Histon Road junction on the A14
A comparison of the on-road and off-road cycle routes for cyclists heading south over the Histon roundabout is interesting.
Cyclists on the path will have had to cross a busy lane leaving the roundabout in order to get to this point. The quality of the path before and over the bridge is appalling, with wide cracks in the surface. At this point they have to pick their time to cross three lanes of traffic as they don’t have a light to give them priority. They will have to cross using a path that deviates greatly from a straight line, but at least will be able to use the new section of path.
Cyclists using the road can cycle straight over, using the lights on the road. Some of those who are intending to turn left later on to travel along King’s Hedges Road might wish to to make use of the new path, but now that the temporary ramp has been removed, there is no provision for them to do so. The next dropped kerb after the one for cyclists on the path already is that which forms the crossing at the junction of King’s Hedges Road and Cambridge Road. This is on the inside edge of a corner and is likely to be crowded with people waiting to cross the road. So cyclists who start on the road will have to stay on the road.
West side of Cambridge Road
While we’ve been concentrating on what’s going on on the east side of Cambridge Road, even worse events are taking place on the west side. The mandatory cycle lane which used to be here has already been removed and cyclists are expected to use a new path shared between pedestrians and cyclists in both directions.
This is a mere 1.5 m wide which is way below any standards for such paths, and half the width of the path on the other side of the road (where that is at its best and not obstructed by street furniture).
There used to be a short cut here between Cambridge Road and the NIAB site. This is the starting point for many who take the heavily used path through the NIAB area to Huntingdon Road, the Thornton Road residential area and the west of Cambridge in general. This path currently has footpath status but for most of its length is paved and suitable for vehicles. The council intends it to become an official cycle route in due course. The short-cut is needed to prevent the considerable detour which can be seen in this aerial photograph.
Unlike the old cycle lane, the shared-use path goes only a few metres before it takes a sharp 90° left bend with reverse camber and stops for the side road.
Presumably it will give way to the side road, which at present is barely used but which is planned to become a busy entrance to the new development on the NIAB site.
The on road cycle lane should have been retained, and given the extra space made available by widening of the road it should have been widened from its previous inadequate 1.1 m. If we are to have a shared-use path here, it should meet recognized standards which require it to be 3 m wide. It should not lose priority to side roads.
Child trailers are up to a metre wide, so two cyclists pulling child trailers heading in opposite directions would not be able to pass on this 1.5 m path. Much the same is true of pedestrians pushing prams. This will cause conflict between pedestrians and cyclists, with pedestrians believing that cyclists are passing them too close and too fast. This inadequate design is not forced by a lack of space and is simply not acceptable in an area where the width of the road is being doubled.
A planning application for a hotel on the Arbury Camp site was submitted on 19 April. According to the plan, this is based on the American motel (from ‘motor hotel’) model.
Cambridge Cycling Campaign is objecting on the grounds that the design of this hotel is simply not suited for Cambridge. The plans for this 154 room hotel show a mere eight cycle parking spaces, to be shared between residents and staff. This cycle parking is outdoors, uncovered and next to the delivery entrance at the back of the hotel. A note in the plans suggests that staff who need a shower should use an unoccupied room – something which is only possible if there is an unoccupied room.
A BREEAM report (www.breeam.org) produced for the developers gives scoring for different aspects of the hotel so far as environmental performance is concerned. The report scores only ‘good’ (for comparison, the DfES requires that new build and refurbishment projects for schools should receive a minimum result of ‘very good’ and the government requires ‘excellent’ for most of its new buildings).
BREEAM scoring for transport is especially low, scoring just 2.7 out of 16. The section referring to cycling facilities says, ‘No credits can be awarded as there are inadequate storage facilities and no staff showers.’
Finally, due to the design of the site, the entrance to this hotel is situated past the road onto which the primary school will front. Traffic for other commercial buildings on the site will also pass the school entrance.
This is surely not the type of development which is suited for Britain’s ‘Cycling City.’
The King’s Meadow Residents Association recently organized a meeting about the Arbury Camp development, which was notable in that three different councillors, Louise Downham (Labour city councillor, King’s Hedges), Rupert Moss-Eccardt (Lib Dem county councillor, Arbury) and Denis Payne (Impington parish councillor) were united with the audience in opposing the majority of this development. It is striking that there can be such opposition but that little seems to change.
Q103’s Helen Heald picked up the story and they have run items about the area which have given well needed publicity to the low quality of provision and disregard for the safety audit.
Large posters have been erected around the site declaring it to be called Arbury Park. However, the name Arbury Camp was still in use by the developers on 19 April when they submitted the planning application for the hotel.