City centre mess

This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 78.

The cycle bypass lane has been re-opened despite converging with buses and taxis immediately afterwards. The principle of a closure point is fine – it is the buildout that is problematic.
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As you are probably aware, a lot of road works have been taking place in the centre of Cambridge as part of the Core Area traffic management scheme. Big changes came into effect on 21st May when a new one-way system for motor vehicles became operational. Be warned that provision for cyclists is not adequate, despite our efforts, and that extra care needs to be taken.

Regent Street bollards

Motor vehicles travelling towards the City Centre from the south, coming up Regent Street have to turn right into Park Terrace as there is a bollard blocking northbound traffic by Hobson House (opposite Maplins). Buses, taxis and emergency vehicles will be fitted with transponders to lower the bollard and let them through. There is a cycle bypass lane but it is badly designed and dangerous as it is curved, leading users into the path of vehicles coming through the bollard. Photographs of this are on the photomap, at

Good news: for the first time signs now tell drivers that cyclists are allowed southbound in St Andrew’s Street opposite the Grand Arcade
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There is also, crazily, also a new bus stop outside Maplins, just at the point where conflicts are most likely, further exacerbating the problem.

Members of the Committee met on site on 20th May to discuss what measures we wanted, both immediately and in the longer term, to reduce the problems for cyclists and increase both safety and convenience. This followed earlier discussions with the County Council which have proven fruitless in terms of addressing the safety issues.

We have sent the County a formal letter outlining our concerns, and this letter will be of interest to any lawyer representing a cyclist should a collision occur, as the County have failed to address the obvious problems, despite our pointing them out over a year ago.

Emmanuel Street one-way

Emmanuel Street contraflow has not been provided and cyclists will be banned temporarily eastbound
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As part of the same traffic management scheme, Emmanuel Street will become one-way and motor vehicles will not be able to turn into it from St Andrew’s Street. A contraflow cycle lane enabling cyclists to travel towards Drummer Street is not in place and, to our surprise, may not be operational for several months. Buses will, as at present, be able to turn both north into the City Centre and south from Emmanuel Street.

But in the short-term it is inevitable that there will be some chaos at some times as vehicles unfamiliar with the new road layout find themselves blocked by a bollard or unable to turn and have to make awkward manoeuvres to get out. Please take care.

We shall be monitoring the situation, so we can assess scope for improvements (short of redesigning the whole city centre road network) and lobby councillors and officials about changes needed. As part of this, we would welcome your views on both the new layouts and on ways of improving them for cyclists.

Hills Road Bridge

“Narrow lanes. Do not overtake cyclists” will replace these signs which were mistakenly put up appearing to ban cyclists altogether. Intimidation and unsafe overtaking is unlikely to disappear though, so extreme care is needed, and we recommend occupying the centre of the lane while cycling over the bridge.
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Further from the centre, there is currently a partial closure of Hills Road Bridge which will last for no less than ten and a half months while works for the Guided Bus take place.

At present there is a single lane in each direction. We asked that ‘No overtaking’ signs be installed, as it is unsafe for motorists to overtake cyclists in the narrow lanes. Unfortunately the contractors made things worse for a while by putting up signs that appeared to ban cyclists from using the bridge altogether. However, we are pleased to report that these were quickly removed as a result of our representations and, after some further lobbying, they have agreed to put up “Narrow lanes. Do not overtake cyclists” signs, which should be in place by the time you read this.

The police were also asked to target motorists overtaking cyclists in this unsafe situation. Unfortunately they chose instead to victimise cyclists by fining those escaping the intimidation by cycling on the pavement.

In addition some movements have been banned. Turning right out of Brooklands Avenue onto Hills Road bridge is not allowed. Nor, approaching from the south, is it permitted to turn right into Cherry Hinton Road. These restrictions apply to cyclists as well as those driving motor vehicles.

Alternative routes

Alternative route avoiding Hills Road bridge and the right-turn bans
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Map base from CCbySA2.0 – some rights reserved

To get onto Hills Road bridge from Trumpington Street, avoid Brooklands Avenue entirely and come along Bateman Street. Then turn right onto Hills Road and continue straight on over the bridge.

To get into Cherry Hinton Road from the south, turn off Hills Road at one of the earlier right hand turns, e.g. Rathmore Road (a no-through road for cars) or Hartington Grove.

To avoid Emmanuel Street, from the south either turn right, before the bollard, into Park Terrace or continue straight on along St Andrews Street and turn right into King Street. From the city centre heading south continue past Emmanuel Street and then turn left into Park Terrace.