Lighting up time for the Guided Busway

Most people in Cambridgeshire have heard of the Guided Busway that runs between Trumpington, Huntingdon and St Ives – even if not always for the reasons its creators would like. Sadly, one of the country’s most ambitious transport projects has been blighted by poor project management, leading to legal wrangles that have cost the county millions of pounds in interest alone.

It’s not all bad news. The guided buses have attracted more passengers than forecast. And one of the unexpected bonuses of the Busway has been the bridleway running alongside it, well used in the three years that the Busway has been open. Completely separated from traffic it provides a convenient and safe route, and it’s well used both by pedestrians and cyclists.

But it is not reaching its full potential. It could be better used still – were it lit. Illumination would make it safe for cycling and walking on at all hours, all year round. Back in 2012, people I know in the community and at work asked me to see if I could get lighting installed. In the winter months, it is pitch black at the end of the working day, and not much better at the beginning. Many people working at Addenbrooke’s start early in the morning and can get caught at both ends of the day.

People had suffered accidents , including a sprained wrist and broken teeth, just because they could not see where they were going. Many others said that though they liked the facility, they would not use it after dark, as they feared for their personal safety.

I launched the Light the Cycleway petition, which I presented to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet in 2012. http://amandataylor.focusteam.org/2012/05/22/light-the-cycleway/.  The Cabinet acknowledged the need for lighting, and we were able to get building developers’ transport contributions (Section 106 funding) allocated to lighting the section of the Busway between the railway station and Trumpington.

It has been two years since then, but I am pleased to say that yesterday, Trumpington county councillor Barbara Ashwood and I saw the designs for the lights, now signed off by the relevant county officers. The LED lights are mainly 6m high, except for some 4m ones in sensitive areas. The posts will be at the verge edge of the cycleway, away from the busway, maintaining as much as possible of the width riding/ walking space.

The next steps are for Cambridge City Council to discharge the planning condition and for the County to procure the lights. The officers are on schedule to meet the target date of September/ October. We are all very determined that the lights should be in place before the clocks go back.

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