Cottenham to Histon improvements

This article was published in 2011, in Newsletter 96.

The meeting.
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In an effort to connect necklace villages the County Council is building cycle paths leading into Cambridge. The Cottenham-Histon project is 3½ miles long, from the south of Cottenham to the A14 slip road. It is a complex project with varying conditions, from a footway along a 50mph B-road to narrow sections in built-up areas near schools and shops.

Meeting with Mike Davies

On 10 May 2011 Mike Davies, Transport Infrastructure Delivery Officer at the County Council, who is now in charge of this project, took time for a site visit with cycling campaigners.

Potential for a modal shift from cars to bikes

Judging from the queues, there is potential for a modal shift from cars to bikes.

The gentle slope parallel to the junction could provide space for a direct cycle and pedestrian link between the A14/Histon roundabout and the public / sports area of Arbury Park, providing a quieter, shorter and friendlier route to Arbury Rd, Kings Hedges Rd, Cambridge Regional College, the Science Park and the Riverside bridge.
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The footway along the B1049 is currently being widened between Cottenham and Histon to accommodate cyclists on a shared-use footway, running from Cottenham to Impington. The improvements will in large part be funded through Cycling England under the Cycling Demonstration Town programme, which will soon expire. The original idea for the section between the villages was for a Dutch-style, full-width cycleway, separated from the carriageway by a green verge. Unfortunately, it proved difficult for the Council to acquire the land and impossible to do so within the time limits that apply to the Cycling England funding.

On the section starting about 500m south of Cottenham up to the 50/40mph speed limit change just north of Histon, the two-way, shared-use footway will remain at the edge of the main carriageway, owing to difficulties in acquiring privately owned land. But the footway should still be 2m wide, thanks to a retaining wall in the ditch, and the two-way shared-use arrangement continues up to Narrow Close (near Garden Walk) in Histon. Cyclists travelling north towards Cottenham will at this point be allowed to join the new shared-use facility to their right. Cyclists travelling south (into town) will have to give way at the junction with Garden Walk, which unfortunately has only been narrowed on its southern side, where the kerb has been moved, reducing the width of the carriageway. As the kerb is not fully flush, the Campaign is continuing to press for improvements here.

Cyclists will have priority at some crossings

At Orchard Road and Mill Lane (access to Ambrose Way) the cycleway moves away from the main carriageway, leading on to crossings over speed tables which will be marked with on-road signs for drivers to give way to cyclists. South of Mill Lane cyclists will be led to join the main carriageway. In the run-up to the crossing at The Green there is insufficient road width for a proper cycle lane and plans for the final layout don’t seem to have been determined yet. A narrow advisory cycle lane may be marked to allow cyclists to filter through to the advanced stop line at the crossing.

Lineless lane

Lamp posts in the middle of the cycleway.
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A possible solution (Assen, the Netherlands).
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Along Water Lane the narrow road would only accommodate a sub-standard width of cycle lane. The Council seems to favour painting bicycle signs onto the tarmac to remind drivers of the presence of cyclists, but without a dotted line. Many local cyclists and those travelling to the Guided Busway track will probably prefer Station Road. Those continuing on to Cambridge will soon benefit from S106 money (developer funds) paying for a Toucan crossing over the A14 slip roads.

A14 Slip Road into Ring Fort Road at Orchard Park

The availability of developer funds may provide the opportunity for a shared-use path from the A14 crossing (southeastern side) into Ring Fort Road by the Premier Inn, which would make the journey to the local amenities quieter and safer, and also reduce the journey time to Arbury Road.

Lamp posts in the middle of the cycleway

Based on the information the Campaign has obtained from the County Council, by July 2011 new lamp posts ‘will be installed at the back edge of the widened path. They will then receive a new power supply at which point the old columns will get disconnected. The old columns will then get removed. The wearing course [smooth top-layer of tarmac] will then be laid followed by lining works.’

Cottenham-Histon cycle path – an example of good practice. At crossings the path (shown under construction) leads away from the corner.
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Early in May 2011 a Cambridgeshire County Council officer was awaiting quotes for the new lamp columns and meeting UK Power Networks to see how quickly they could get the power supplies in and the terminations done.

There has been some speculation whether the delay in moving the lighting columns is related to an initiative under which 60% of columns in Cambridgeshire will be replaced. But the County will now move the columns independently of the progress on other programmes. This will lead to a new, brighter lighting system, using columns that are 2m taller and dimmed by two-thirds from midnight to dawn to reduce energy consumption and light contamination.

The new, brighter street lighting system should address some of the problems caused by glare from oncoming vehicles. Additional solar-powered studs at the edges of the paths would be welcome.

Pressing for real cycleways

It remains as difficult and important as ever to press the County Council for higher standards in the implementation of cycleways.

Klaas Brümann