The unguided cycleway

This article was published in 2011, in Newsletter 99.

The almost complete Dutch Culvert. Just some fencing and the wearing course of blacktop required. Photo courtesy of Cambridgeshire County Council.
Image as described adjacent

Even before the new paths were opened we’d written to the Cambridgeshire Guided Bus team referring to concerns about some features of the adjacent cycle path. Many of these related to the lack of guidance that those on bikes receive in the dark.

You may have noticed that it is now dark even at 5pm when many use the route. We’ve heard reports of a number of incidents.

At this stage it is worth repeating some of what we said to the County on 18 July:

A number of members have informally cycled on the newly blacktopped sections of the maintenance path. As usual they let us have their views.

The general opinion is that it is wonderful. It is smooth, pleasant and wide. We even had a comment that it is up to Dutch standards.

But as you would expect people have also raised some issues, many of which we think should be easy to fix.

I’ve tried to list them in some sort of priority order.

1) Bollards. There are a number of low (under 600mm high?) galvanised RHS (rectangular hollow section) lockable bollards. Although these have painted stripes they do not show up well, especially as they are so low, and more so in the dark. We know of injuries caused by bollards elsewhere, and as these are generally in unlit areas we think it is **urgent** that these are modified, especially as this route will often be used in the dark. We’ve seen advertised:

[A product called traxeyes] which would improve things somewhat. We also think that white lines should be used to mark the locations, especially on the main path where cyclists might be expected to be travelling at over 20kph. To reach Dutch standards we’d expect something like:

[A ‘Pole in cycleway’ sign as illustrated below] – perhaps with an alteration to the wording? Having larger more prominent bollards would help, as would reflective markers (the current stripes do not appear reflective). We don’t think these are alternatives. They should all be done.

Start of the cycleway near Cambridge Station. Random grey poles, bollards, and changes of surface make this a confusing area in the gloom or dark. Lighting is needed everywhere on this route but it is essential at locations such as this.
Image as described adjacent

2) Crossings of roads

b) chicane barriers. We understand these are a requirement. They need contrasting markers (and traxeyes). In poor light they look like a continuous barrier. Reflective tape/paint/markers would help. If on approaching RED were used on the left and WHITE on the right, that would conform to normal road practice, and would make it clear how to make the required zig-zag.

3) Edge marking. The blacktop drops away sharply at many locations. On the side away from the busway , and where the route separates from it, a white line would be a great help. Incidentally at some locations the old base has been left raised above the surface on the downfall side, sometimes by as much as 150mm. This will result in ponding after heavy rain. Can it be graded off to prevent such ponding?

Finally, although not part of our snagging list, a number of members have asked about winter maintenance. Will it be salted? If so, will it just be done from the ‘guideway’? If it is, what happens at those locations where the cycle route is not adjacent? Without salting it could just be a very long skating rink.

Following an excursion in the dark we have seen other issues.

Clearly in the urban fringe we should expect this route to be properly lit, and white lining (solid and dotted) would help to differentiate those areas such at junctions where the cyclist may cross, join or leave the route. The junction with the spur to Addenbrooke’s is one area subject to this confusion.

Cyclists can help themselves. I’ve seen several with no lights at all, and many have poor LED ones that cast little or no beam to illuminate the area ahead.

Left: Dutch ‘Pole in the cycleway’ sign. Right: Carriageway V markings used to indicate an obstruction on the Cherry Hinton Road shared-use pavement.
Image as described adjacent Image as described adjacent

We have now had replies from the County Council, complete with the good news that by the time you read this the section from Swavesey to St Ives should be complete.

Consideration is being given to better marking of the bollards including reflective road studs. White-painted ‘v’ markings on the road, as by the speed camera on Cherry Hinton Road, would be another way of warning about the bollards.

Given the fact that we asked about these issues in July, we think far better progress should have been made. Was a ‘Safety Audit’ done on cycle safety on this path?

Jim Chisholm