Rising cameras, falling bollards

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 67.

Proposed measures for Victoria Avenue and Maid’s Causeway, restricting motor traffic in Cambridge city centre

Maid’s Causeway: slower speed?
Maid’s Causeway

Cambridge’s Core Traffic Scheme, implemented in four stages since 1997, has been highly successful in achieving its four main objectives – to remove through traffic, to improve conditions for public transport, to provide safer and more convenient routes for cyclists and to create better and safer environments for pedestrians. The route Victoria Avenue – Maid’s Causeway – Newmarket Road (up to the junction with East Road and Elizabeth Way) lies within the agreed core area of the city centre and ways of achieving the objectives of the Core Scheme along this route have been under consideration as the fifth stage.

A meeting of the Cambridge Traffic Management Area Joint Committee (usually known as the AJC) held on 3 July considered a long and detailed report on public consultation on the issue, together with three petitions presented by members of the public. This report is on the County Council web site.

We had earlier sent in a response to the consultation, supporting rising bollards to restrict traffic along this route. But the public consultation showed that only 14% of the 707 people who responded to the consultation supported this option. After reading the consultation report, but before the AJC meeting, we wrote twice to the councillors of the AJC, suggesting a scheme with the following main elements as a possible alternative to the proposal for rising bollards which had received such limited support:

1. An experimental 20 mph restriction along the whole of Victoria Avenue, Maid’s Causeway and Newmarket Road as far as the roundabout. The restriction could be enforced for through traffic by two of the new speed cameras which calculate average speeds, one sited at the beginning and the other at the end of this length of roadway. (The issue of the compatibility of such a restriction with existing rules governing the imposition of 20 mph limits and with rules governing the location of speed cameras would obviously need to be investigated, but we believe that a good case could be made.) These averaging cameras are currently undergoing trials by Transport for London (Draft Manual for Streets, paragraph 7.9.6, which can be found in the PDF file of Chapter 7 from the Manual for Streets Website). We suggested that trials should also be held in Cambridge and that this would be an appropriate location.

Such a camera-enforced restriction would have the following advantages:

  • It would be contiguous with the already-agreed 20 mph zone.
  • It could be expected to reduce traffic.
  • It would make these roads much safer for pedestrians and cyclists as well as for motorists themselves.
  • It would enhance the attractions of the commons (Jesus Green, Butt Green and Midsummer Common) through which these roads pass and make them more safely accessible by pedestrians and cyclists.
  • It would reduce vehicle emissions and noise.

2. A 24-hour restriction on heavy goods vehicles using the through route together with part-time restrictions on HGVs using all or part of this route to make deliveries. The present number of HGVs which pass through the area is incompatible with its visual attractiveness and with the scale of cycle and pedestrian activity.

At the AJC meeting, councillors recognized that it would not be practicable to press ahead with the proposal for rising bollards and instead asked Council Officers to investigate a number of traffic management measures, including our two suggestions and also raised tables together with a pedestrian crossing (which should definitely be a pedestrian-and-cycle crossing) near James Street. Having investigated these and any other suggested traffic management issues, Officers will report back to the AJC in January 2007.

James Woodburn