This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 75.
The Corn Exchange Street contraflow
After protracted negotiations over a year ago (see Newsletter 63), including a petition to Cambridgeshire County Council, the Council accepted that there should be contraflow cycle routes in Corn Exchange Street and Wheeler Street. Technically these are not contraflow lanes but ‘advisory’ lanes in roads where motor traffic is banned from entering at one end, as with Bene’t Street. They finally opened in October.
We would like to thank everyone involved in making this happen, not least officers at the County Council who, once they had conceded the need, have implemented it diligently.
The cycle lane is narrow. This always was inevitable because both streets are themselves very narrow. This was of course the problem in achieving the lane. Crossing the car park entrance was also another major sticking point. Nevertheless, despite the narrowness, the lane is essential because of the Grand Arcade development. Cambridge Cycling Campaign won a 500-space, secure, under-cover cycle park as part of the new shopping centre. However, the entrance to the cycle park is less-than-ideally positioned, in Corn Exchange Street. Had it been accessible from only one direction, the whole cycle park would have been a white elephant. You would have been able to get into it from the Regent Street direction, but not get out again; and you would have had to go all the way round by Trumpington Street to get in from the north side of the City Centre – getting out to head north may well be easier now via Downing Street because of the one-way system around the triangle.
At the time of writing, I don’t believe all the correct signs are in place at the car park exit, and there are still problems with pedestrians walking in the cycle lane even though the alternative pedestrian route at the higher level is now fully open
So why the ‘Woodburn Way’?
Committee member James Woodburn spent many hours in meetings convincing the ‘powers that be’ in various quarters that such a route was essential to the viability of the new cycle park, and that given the 20 mph zone and relatively low volumes of motor vehicles it would be safe. I’d heard another committee member refer to this route as the ‘Woodburn Way’ and it is fitting that Campaign members should use this unofficial name in recognition of the sterling work done by James over several years to ensure we gain this new route which much improves the ‘permeability’ of this part of town for cyclists.
Although James won the war, he is disappointed that we lost the battle over priority at the car park entry. Normally traffic turning right across a stream of oncoming traffic would ‘Give Way’. Here the authorities have decided to reverse this and cyclists are forced to stop for cars turning right to enter the car park.
Jim Chisholm and David Earl