This article was published in 2010, in Newsletter 88.
DfT finally gives in
At long last, after years of campaigning by cycling groups all around the country – not least ourselves – the Department for Transport is finally allowing the use of an ‘Except Cycles’ plate under a ‘No Entry’ sign, albeit on a trial basis in a few locations.
This signage combination is used widely on the continent and is simply common sense. It says what it means, and no motorist could be excused for driving through it.
The current ‘flying motorcycles’ sign has been the only way to sign this arrangement when the street entry point is too narrow for a buildout (yet wide enough for two-way cycling). But this really is an abuse of that sign.
Predictably, when the Cambridge News reported this news, some commentators on their website used this as an excuse to complain that cyclists shouldn’t be given contraflow rights. But they completely miss the point: nothing is changing in that regard – merely that the existing signage is being clarified.
Allegedly, a single civil servant at the Department for Transport has for many years single-handedly prevented this new, sensible signage – but has now retired. We have no doubt the trail will be a success, and this signage will replace the ‘No Motor Vehicles’ sign.
Well, it happened again. Cyclists have once more been treated as second-class citizens when it comes to gritting of paths.
The County Council has admittedly been in a difficult position: salt stocks around the country have been limited, and there have been multiple rounds of snowfall, making it difficult to keep paths clear. But what is necessary is a clear statement that cycles are regarded as as important as cars when it comes to gritting main routes – and that what is a local street for cars is sometimes a main road for cyclists.
Cambridge On Ice
As I write, the Cambridge On Ice event on Parker’s Piece is wrapping up its operations for a third year. We feel its co-existence with a major cycling and walking route has worked much better this year, and the organisers are to be thanked.
Hopefully the organisers have now found that the suggestions which we originally made three years ago – all sensible compromises that the City Council this year insisted on in the planning consent – have not proved troublesome to the event’s operations. This year we received only a few complaints from our members, mostly about a few occasions when the path has been blocked by a delivery lorry, and we decided not to pursue these.
Paths like those across Parker’s Piece are key routes for cyclists and walkers, as has been the case for a very, very long time. We are happy to share them. Like everyone else, a spirit of compromise is needed – with cyclists travelling at moderated speeds and giving way to walkers, and temporary events recognising these more mundane daily uses.
Thankfully this year, that spirit of compromise has been evident. Assuming the same planning conditions can be retained in the future, there should be no need to object next time around.
Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator