At the same time as the opening of the new John Lewis store at the junction of Downing Street and St Andrew’s Street, several things in the area have changed.
New traffic lights
The new traffic lights came into operation on the same day as the new store opened, and Cambridge Cycling Campaign is far from happy at the arrangements here, although we greatly welcome the addition of a pedestrian phase. The layout is different from previous plans we have seen, and I am very concerned that the widening of the carriageway at the junction shown on the plans passed by Cambridge City Council does not seem to have appeared on the ground. We now have very wide pavements, but the entry to the contraflow cycle lane is still very narrow and buses turning left from Downing Street cross over the advanced stop box for cyclists in St Andrew’s Street southbound.
Although the Campaign met an officer from Cambridgeshire County Council earlier and raised these and other matters, we are more than disappointed that no ‘redmac’ has been laid on the first section of contraflow lane in Downing Street (including the place at the junction where pedestrians cross), and that the sequence of the lights gives rise to conflicts between cyclists and pedestrians. The phase for traffic leaving Downing Street is followed immediately by that for traffic going both ways in St Andrew’s Street together with cyclists turning into Downing Street. Although there is a pedestrian phase following this we still have the problem of pedestrians crossing Downing Street outside Cambridge Building Society at the only time that cyclists are permitted to turn into that street. If the pedestrian phase directly followed that for traffic exiting Downing Street, the risk of conflict would be much reduced as waiting pedestrians would have crossed before the phase allowing cyclists to enter Downing Street.
I hope by the time you read this, these two straightforward errors will have been corrected, as well as the removal of redundant equipment boxes which obstruct the footway. We would also like to see double yellow vertical kerb markings to reinforce the ban on loading in the contraflow lane. (This suggestion came from a Council Officer).
More complicated is the positioning of the ‘approach lane’ to the advanced stop box for southbound cyclists on St Andrew’s Street. Earlier drawings had this lane to the right of the motor vehicle lane but it has appeared on the ground on the left. A quick count one day showed that around 75% of cyclists turn right, and clearly, as the lights change any cyclist in this approach lane will have difficulty in crossing the line of buses and making the right turn, and will ‘stall’ hence obstructing even those cyclists wishing to go straight on. More experienced cyclists are likely to ignore the approach lane and move right earlier. On the first day of operation I saw a bus ‘hoot’ at such a cyclist, as between him and those stranded on the inside there was insufficient room for the bus to pass. Should the approach lane be positioned on the right hand side, right-turning cyclists would be in the correct position, and cyclists going straight on should have little difficulty filtering into the stream of motor vehicles: after all, this is in a 20 mph zone.
I was also surprised to find that, although this is a major junction for cyclists, no counts of motor vehicles or cyclists were done prior to the redesign, and that as far as I can discover no ‘cycle audit’ was done.