Treating cyclists as real road users

This article was published in 2006, in Newsletter 68.

Nonsense roadworks in Cambridge: get off and walk.
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In the past two months we have seen three sets of temporary changes which fail to treat cyclists like real road users whose reasonable needs cannot just be ignored.

Maintenance of the station cycle bridge

The station cycle bridge has seen the third and final stage of maintenance works for the first time in 15 years. We warmly welcome work to improve it, and it is nice now to be able to see outside the windows. These works have resulted in a month’s closure of this important route. We accept that maintenance over railway areas can be difficult. However, the problem is the way that the change has been undertaken.

Really irritating obstructions here. These are supposedly to prevent motorcycles cutting through, but cycling is made difficult by such obstructions. These are also impossible for trailer users, and probably wheelchair users, to pass. Indeed, the man in the centre of the picture had his handlebars damaged due to the obstructions here. These relics of 1980s restrictive design need to be removed.
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Last year, we wrote stating our view that, if the bridge was to be closed temporarily, diversionary signage should be used, and that measures to improve the alternative route should be undertaken, principally making Mill Road Bridge 20 mph and removing the pinch point at the Argyle Street and Charles Street junction.

One of our suggestions – improvement to the entrance to Stockwell Street – was carried out. We understand that there are plans to deal with the pinch point, but nothing was done in time for the bridge closure, and no timetable has been given.

We wrote again this year, to ask exactly the same thing, given that another closure was proposed, again with barely any action.

In the Netherlands, diversionary signage for cyclists is done in the same way as would be done in the UK for any other vehicle – using a proper metal plate, correctly fixed.
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Diversion signs made of plastic material were installed with the earlier closures. However, they were devalued by being left there after the works were finished. And, being plastic temporary signage, they got rotated by vandals, making them useless.

All we ask is that walkers and cyclists are treated like normal road users. Diversions for walkers and cyclists should be correctly and professionally signed, not least because someone walking doesn’t want to get somewhere and then discover the diversion having spent five minutes walking there.

Cyclists use the ‘out’ side as the entrance to the cycle lane for the station cycle bridge. We asked that the opportunity to remove the pointless central island be taken. It was not.
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Removal of cycle parking at the library

Bikes parked insecurely behind the central library wherever space can be found.
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Cycle parking outside Cambridge Central Library was temporarily blocked off for a few weeks while works in the area were ongoing. We received no warning about this, and suddenly signs just appeared, with the loss of 50 or so spaces. Consequently, the bikes that would have been there then littered the pavement areas nearby, insecurely parked.

This problem gained us radio media coverage, with a good morning slot to explain these problems on BBC Radio Cambridgeshire.

On 28th July, Councillor Rod Cantrill wrote, in response to our complaint on discovering this sudden closure:

We are exploring with officers possible locations for temporary cycle racks whilst the Fisher Square work is undertaken.

On 12th August, he wrote:

With regard to this issue we understand that the closure of the Fisher Square racks is temporary at this time – as the developer undertakes exploratory work. The area will reopen in the short term but will close when proper works on Fisher Square commence. This provides some space for us to consider alternative solutions, which we must do in conjunction with the County Council. The holiday period has meant that whilst ideas have been exchanged it will not be until September when we will hopefully be in a position to have specific proposals.

All official racks in use round the corner from the library; bikes again against walls, unsecured.
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Councillor Reid suggested that riders could use Park Street Cycle Park. Whilst this is an excellent facility, it is a good ten minute walk away, and so would add 20 minutes to a journey to the library.

As of mid-September, we have yet to hear what will be provided. We suggested that the on-road space outside River Island, currently just used for parking on yellow lines, could be turned into a bank of cycle racks, which would be a useful facility anyway.

Racks could be provided on-street here, where the yellow lines are. Which is a better use of space – secure cycle parking, or illegal car parking?
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(Peas Hill would not be a good location, as this would mean that lorries would continue to park outside the Corn Exchange, where a new cycle contraflow is helpfully to be provided following our lobbying.)

Again, cyclists are not being treated like proper road users. When the Lion Yard car park was closed, it was planned carefully so that half would remain available while the other half was rebuilt, and that the new Trumpington Park and Ride site would be available before the car park was closed.

By contrast, cyclists turning up to park their cycles discover a temporary sign and no alternative installed. This is despite high levels of cycle theft and already an extreme shortage of cycle parking stands in the area.

Cycle parking outside Bradwell’s Court fenced off. Now where should we park?
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So, in mid-September, we were angered to see that exactly the same thing happened again. Contractors for this new development took it upon themselves to fence off the cycle parking, again with no alternative provision.

Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator