This article was published in 2011, in Newsletter 97.
We welcome the recent wider introduction of No Entry Except Cycles signs and urge councillors to re-invigorate its policy of opening up remaining one-way streets to cyclists.
It seems a while ago now, but our last Newsletter just missed the news that the ‘experiment’ with No Entry Except Cycles signs has been extended to most of the remaining streets where the widely disregarded No Motor Vehicles signs had been used in strict adherence to the Department for Transport rules.
We thoroughly welcome this pragmatic approach which we have been promoting both locally and nationally for years. A word of caution though: in general, even though contraflow lanes aren’t needed, the new signs aren’t usually enough. A very short length of red marking/lane is needed at the junction to tell motorists turning right out of the restricted road that they need to leave room for cyclists coming in the opposite direction. Most of the new locations have this arrangement.
Four locations have been changed:
- two more off Mill Road at Covent Garden and Kingston Street (the latter being the place where the old signs caused most problems),
- at Bene’t Street where it joins Kings Parade (there are some incorrect signs further along this route into Corn Exchange Street which can hopefully also be amended in time), and
- at Malcolm Street where a contraflow meets Jesus Lane. Here, there always was a No Entry sign but it did not conform to DfT regulations.
As far as I know, that leaves only one location in Cambridge which still uses No Motor Vehicles signs, namely at the southern end of Hope Street (Romsey) where it joins Argyle Street.
What does this say about future potential? Should any places where traffic islands are currently used to bypass No Entry signs have the islands physically removed?
One notable example might be the turn into Downing Street from Regent Street. The lane here is very narrow to make room for the previously required island. This causes problems for bikes with trailers, it makes it quite a tight left turn and cyclists turning right often cut the corner and go the wrong side of the island anyway. On the other hand, would motorists encroach on the cycle lane if the island were abolished, and would pedestrians feel vulnerable, crossing as they almost all do at exactly the wrong time against the red light, with nowhere to stand in the middle when cyclists come round the corner?
What about St Philips Road in Romsey where a series of islands in already narrow streets was constructed to allow contraflow? Here cars often park right up to the islands, meaning that cyclists have to go the wrong side anyway. But if they were removed, is parking in such high demand that motorists would then park right up to the junctions along wider cycle lanes?
More importantly, what new streets might this open up that have been dismissed for lack of space in the past? There are still four minor streets off the Petersfield end of Mill Road that cyclists aren’t allowed to use against the one-way flow, plus Hemingford Road in Romsey.
Perhaps the next priority, however, should be to re-visit Panton Street and other streets in the Newtown area. Panton Street was considered for two-way cycling some time ago but objections from the then councillor for the area squashed it – on the grounds that parents driving their kids home from the Perse Girls School needed both lanes to turn out onto Lensfield Road.
The various remaining truly one-way streets in Cambridge have been whittled away over time, but it has been an excruciatingly slow process. This is despite the council many years ago now adopting a policy that all such streets should be opened up for cycling. We urge them to re-invigorate this policy.