Planning permission was granted on 9 May 2007 for the Cowley Road Park and Ride to be moved to a new Green Belt site, north of the A14 and west of the A10 at Milton. Cambridge Cycling Campaign objected vigorously to many aspects of the new location, but with Cambridgeshire County Council as the applicant, our protests were never going to be properly heard.
Here are the main issues Oliver Merrington from the Campaign outlined at the Development Control Meeting in May, and the County Council’s replies:
The footbridge over the A10, with its low parapets and steep inclines, is substandard. Despite ‘Cyclists Dismount’ signs, the length of the bridge means most cyclists choose to ride their bikes across.
The County’s position was that the first Safety Audit found no real access problems, the Local Highways Authority (the County) made no request for an upgrade and, in any case, the Planning Authority (the County) would approve the final engineering design work, to be followed by a second Safety Audit.
The difficult access will reduce the numbers of cyclists and park-and-cycle users; improvements would actively encourage nearby Milton village residents to walk and cycle to the new site.
But the County did not anticipate an increase in numbers, so it wasn’t prepared to fund the very improvements which would make conditions less hostile and so encourage a growth in numbers.
The crossings at the Butt Lane entrance and exit of the new site are uncontrolled and do not have priority (unlike the crossings within the Park and Ride). In the morning rush hour, vulnerable road users will have to negotiate heavy traffic, including HGVs, entering the site from both directions in Butt Lane (all city-bound traffic from Butt Lane will now be diverted through the Park and Ride).
The County argued that, without these crossings, eastbound cyclists heading for the footbridge would stay on the road (where there’s no provision for them) and, at the last moment, turn right at the Park and Ride entrance. This may well be the case, but the proposed crossings at the mouth of the access roads are potential danger spots in themselves. The County has recommended a waiting point, further back on the north side of Butt Lane, which would enable safer crossing to the south-side shared-use path. This path will be upgraded to a 3 m width, but the County was not prepared to say how far it would extend along Butt Lane – possibly to the Waste Recycling Centre, but no further: it was not ‘reasonable or relevant to impose planning conditions which require measures outside the planning application site.’ But surely the increased traffic from the Park and Ride and impaired safety of cyclists is ‘relevant’? It seems that Butt Lane with its ‘variety of widths and configurations of path along its full length’ (an officer of Cambridgeshire County Council) will remain as cycle-unfriendly as ever.
As a mitigation exercise, the County presented a plan for safe cycle routes through Milton village. Whilst this is welcome, the proposed routes are along quiet suburban streets where a few signs and flush kerbs can be added. Not exactly a radical display of the County’s commitment to more sustainable modes of transport!
The County has agreed to monitor the demand for cycle parking (an initial 50 covered stands will be provided) and to reconsider upgrading the footbridge if usage is higher than predicted.