By the time you read this a new Park & Ride site will have opened on the A10 near to Milton village (see map on right). This replaces the Cowley Road P&R, which closed on 15 November 2008.
The £3.1m cost has been partly paid for from the Growth Areas Fund for 2006-2008, in a bid coordinated and submitted by Cambridgeshire Horizons in May 2006 – I think they had hoped the Cowley Road site would be developed for housing, along with the sewage works. See tinyurl.com/yemmkl. For background information, see the County Council’s website.
Since October 2006, when the site was first suggested during a public consultation, members of the Campaign, together with Sustrans Volunteer Rangers in Milton and Waterbeach, have had a series of meetings with Alistair Frost, the County Council’s Project Manager. We have also met with county and district councillors, parish councillors from Milton, Histon and Impington, as well as Sustrans regional staff, county officials and Impington Village College staff. We use a subgroup to exchange ideas between members.
We made submissions to the Development Control Committee at the County Council which gave the scheme planning consent in May 2007, and to South Cambridgeshire Disrict Council which also considered the planning application. See them online at www.camcycle.org.uk/campaigning/letters/
We have spoken at some of these meetings and briefed councillors. As with past P&R schemes, the County Council is both the developer (applicant) and the planning authority.
The site is unusual since the only pedestrian and cycle access from Milton to it is via a sub-standard 1960s footbridge on which cycling is banned. Cyclists going along Butt Lane to and from Impington, including Impington Village College students, also use the bridge. In 2006 we did a count of the number of cyclists using the footbridge over the A10, and Cowley Road P&R itself. We campaigned to have this footbridge upgraded but were told that there wasn’t enough money. Nigel Brigham from Sustrans is still hoping to get a landfill tax grant to do this, or at least to raise the bridge parapets, which are too low.
Large numbers of heavy goods vehicles (HGVs) go along Butt Lane to and from the Milton Landfill Site, operated by Waste Recycling Group plc, which has recently been extended. (This is not to be confused with the Household Waste Recycling Centre on the same site.) These HGVs now have to go through the new Park and Ride site – see below for details – in an eastbound direction, e.g. heading for the A14. So nice for people waiting for buses!
Right turns from Impington (Butt Lane) onto the A10 are now banned, so a public highway now goes through the site – see map. There is a new set of traffic lights on the A10 to allow right-turning cars and buses to leave the P&R and head for the A14 and Cambridge.
At the place where cyclists come off the footbridge (if they choose to ignore the ban) and where cyclists coming from Impington cross Butt Lane in order to get on the shared-use path, there is now a new, uncontrolled bell-mouth junction. This is the main entrance to the Park & Ride for southbound cars from the A10 – Waterbeach, Cottenham and Ely. They turn right at the traffic lights and then immediately turn left into the Park & Ride, not expecting to see cyclists (and pedestrians) in their path. We consider this an accident waiting to happen.
The Council seem not to have taken on board the issue we raised with them about the P&R sites at Newmarket Road and Madingley Road, which also have wide, sweeping bell-mouth turns at their entrances. At Milton, there are no advanced stop lines at any of the traffic signals because the Council assume there won’t be any cyclists on the A10. A dropped kerb at this position has now been moved a few yards inside the site, but we and several councillors campaigned for a much better solution.
Cowley Road P&R has been extensively used by cyclists who come south over the Jane Coston Bridge, leave their bikes and get the P&R bus into town (‘Bike & Ride’). The problems mentioned above and the ‘out of the way’ position of the new site mean, I predict, that they may well continue as they have done before, and pick up the Milton P&R bus near the Science Park. [When this newsletter went to press the new bus routes had not been finalised.] The only problem is that there will not be any secure cycle parking there. If the P&R bus gets held up getting over the A14 roundabout, perhaps pedestrians too will start getting the bus there.
Cowley Road P&R was also used as a Park & Cycle site. It is hard to know how popular this will be at the new site. We warned the council that confident, fast cyclists might even cycle down the A10 to the A14 roundabout, another potential accident site, to the Jane Coston Bridge. There are no footpaths alongside the road here, so they will use the carriageway. Some will even continue over the A14 and into Cambridge. This roundabout has up until now been generally free of cyclists on the carriageway, in my view a good thing, in view of the high traffic speeds and all the vehicles changing lanes. After dark, especially in winter, if the same cyclists go back to the new P&R site over the roundabout, this does not bear thinking about.
In 2007 we jointly developed a cycle route with Patrick Joyce (the County Council’s cycling officer) for those who ‘push their bikes over the footbridge’ into Butt Lane through existing traffic-free cycle routes in the western part of Milton Village, coming out behind Tesco on The Rowans. We and the Parish Council were told this would be fully signed and implemented before the new Park and Ride opened this November, but (no surprises here) the county council has overspent and this scheme is still waiting to be implemented. Local Sustrans Rangers will sign this route in the meantime.
A further route from Landbeach will be developed using Butt Lane, Froment Way and Humphries Way. This assumes that cyclists are brave enough to cross the A10 at Landbeach Road.
On the new site, there will be lockable cycle lockers and space for 50 bikes in four Broxap ‘Apollo Senior’ covered cycle racks. We asked to see signage for the site, but never got this. The Council say that cyclists ‘will be encouraged to use the footbridge over the A10 with directional signage’ but we have not seen this.
We were told that a Stage 3 Safety Audit would be carried out just before the P&R opens. We have seen the Stage 2 Audit and it raises many of the same concerns as we did. Again, it is the County Council that is doing the audit of a County Council development.
The subgroup will monitor cycle usage over the coming months, and will report back. Members are asked to let the Campaign know about any further problems they encounter at Milton P&R.