Cross city cycling*

The Greater Cambridge City Deal has launched a consultation on five schemes designed to improve safety for people walking or cycling across Cambridge.

Accident clustersThe one that is of greatest relevance to us in Queen Edith’s focuses on the Long Road-Queen Edith’s Way- Hills Road junction, a key route for schools, sixth form colleges and Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It’s a difficult junction to negotiate by bike or on foot, with fast-moving traffic coming from all directions and it’s a known accident cluster, as shown on the County Council’s map. I have lost count of the times people have said the latest new cycle lane being built on Hills Road should have started at this junction, rather than just after it.

It’s an expensive project, and the money on the table is from the City Deal, a government-funded infrastructure programme granted by Nick Clegg when Deputy Prime Minister during the coalition government.

Exhibitions

There is a programme of exhibitions showing the proposals, and two are in our area: Addenbrooke’s on 18th January, and St John’s Church on 3rd February. Alternatively, you can see plans and comment on line, on the City Deal website. The consultation is open until 15th February.

* Not, as it looks, a description of the city or the cyclists – better with a hyphen, I think!

Parking survey in the Morley area

Working witMarshall Roadh residents, I am surveying the streets in the north of Queen Edith’s on parking problems.

The streets suffer from a daily influx of visitors: students, office workers, shoppers, Leisure Centre visitors – and even hospital staff. This severely limits the parking spaces for  local people, and there has also been dangerous parking, cars on the pavement, blocked drives, damage and petty crime.

Parking is a problem throughout Queen Edith’s, but it makes life particularly difficult in the older housing opposite the sixth form college and Homerton, as many of the houses have no drives.

Parking controls for some streets in the area have been agreed twice, in 2004 and 2009, but then not implemented by the County Council due to policy changes.

Residents ran a petition to Hills Road VI Form College earlier this year asking them to stop their students from parking in residential streets. I am working with some of the residents and with County Council officers  charged with addressing parking issues in Cambridge. Following a meeting and a walkabout with the officers, we are now gauging the support for parking controls – which could include a residents’ parking scheme*. If you live between Blinco Grove and Rathmore Road, you should receive a survey through your letterbox soon.

*For more information on how residents’ parking schemes work, including permits for visitors and medical professionals, see http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/info/20018/parking_permits_and_fines/9/parking/2

Hills Road cycle lanes: good news and bad news

Cycle lanes Sept 15_1809THE GOOD NEWS
The north-bound cycleway on Hills Road is now continuous, running from just past Long Road to just before Purbeck Road. It is good for cyclists to be able to ride continuously, and for pedestrians to have their pavement space back.

THE BAD NEWS
The south-bound cycleway works have not yet started. That side of the road has several junctions and lots of services cables and pipes under the pavement, at varying levels depending on the era in which they were installed. This is causing complications, making it unlikely that much progress could be made before the December ‘roadworks embargo’.

OR PERHAPS MORE GOOD NEWS, IN A WAY?
There will be no major works between now and the end of the year. To avoid leaving part-done works in place over Christmas, the contractor will now not be making a proper start on the southbound carriageway until January. Instead, Skanska will use the time to finish off the northbound side (including yellow lines and cycle markings) and prepare for starting the cycleway southbound side of the road. This should ensure smoother progress in the New Year. The streetlights work should be finished by the end of November too; those holes in the pavement have been around for far too long already.

There was a general update on the cycle lanes scheme at the October South Area meeting. Chris Rand, who writes the Queen Edith’s Online blog, reports on it here:

Hills Road Cycleway: some of our questions answered

Do read it – it’s a very good, and balanced report.

There is a Frequently Asked Questions post on my own website: http://amandataylor.focusteam.org/2015/08/08/hills-road-cycle-lanes-frequently-asked-questions/

Streetlighting switch-off: councillors to discuss on Monday

switchoff mapConservative county councillors and County Council Highways officers are proposing to switch off streetlights between midnight and 6am in an attempt to make the books balance, in the face of swingeing cuts to councils from the government.

We believe this will have an unacceptable impact on road safety and on individual safety in Cambridge, given the high numbers of residents and visitors who are about after midnight or early in the morning.

A report on the lighting switch-off will be discussed at the South Area meeting on Monday evening.

Here is a link to the full agenda. There’s also an open forum session, an update on the late-running Hills Road cycle lanes and a report on environmental services in the south of the city (rubbish, graffiti and vandalism).

The meeting is open to the public and anyone can speak. If you cannot attend but would like to make a point, please contact me or one of the other councillors.

7pm, Monday, St John’s Church, Hills Road.

LOCAL BLOGGER CHRIS RAND HAS WRITTEN A DETAILED REPORT OF THE DISCUSSION AT THE MEETING. Read it here.

Hills Road: life in the slow lane, and the Tory switch-off plan

Cones on Hills Road

Cones on Hills Road

Cambridgeshire County Council‘s Cycling Team and the contractor for the Hills Road project will be coming to Queen Edith’s on October 5th to report on the slow-running Hills Road cycle lanes.

Or should that read ‘the slow lanes’? The project was scheduled to take 37 weeks but we are in week 36 already and they still haven’t finished the first side. More red tarmac went down last weekend but the route still involves a mixture of surfaces and cyclists having to move onto the road. All road users are having difficulties: drivers are delayed, pedestrians cannot cross the road because of rows of traffic cones, and bus users have had bus stops out of commission for weeks on end.

The officers will report on the Hills Road project and  take questions, then tell us about other cycle-related matters, including the Chisholm Trail cross-city cycle route.

Here is a link to the agenda of the South Area meeting. There’s also an open forum session and a report on environmental services in the south of the city (rubbish, graffiti and vandalism).

7pm, St John’s Church, Hills Road.

switchoff map

Under Conservative proposals only the blue roads would be lit at night.

STOP PRESS: The meeting will also receive a report on the County Council’s proposals to switch off streetlights at night. County Tories want to stop night-time lighting in an attempt to make the books balance, in the face of swingeing central government cuts to local government.

We believe this will have an unacceptable impact on road safety and on individual safety in Cambridge, given the high numbers of residents and visitors who are about after midnight or early in the morning.

LOCAL BLOGGER CHRIS RAND HAS POSTED A REPORT OF THE DISCUSSION ON HIS WEBSITE: http://queen-ediths.co.uk/cambridge-planning/hills-road-cycleway-some-of-our-questions-answered/

Police report

The neighbourhood police report a burglary in Gunhild Way this month, with forced entry breaking glass in a back door. There has also been criminal damage in the vicinity of Long Road.
Bicycles have been stolen in Holbrook Road (from a shed), Long Road, Hills Road and Addenbrooke’s.

The current police priorities for the next 3 months are:

  1. To combat Drug Dealing;
  2. To combat ASB on the Quarry Lakes
  3. To improve Road-safety (via combating inconsiderate parking/cycling etc)

To find out more about your Neighbourhood Policing Team visit https://www.cambs-police.co.uk/myneighbourhood/locate.asp

To contact Police:-
In an emergency always call 999
For all non-emergencies 101
For property registering, visit www.immobilise.com

Crimestoppers
To give information anonymously about crime. Call 0800 555 111.

Hills Road cycle lanes: Frequently Asked Questions

Hills Road cycle lanesCambridgeshire County Council’s new cycle lanes on Hills Road have generated a record number of questions and concerns. Here are some of the most common ones:

Q: Why is Cambridgeshire County Council doing this?

A: The County wishes to enhance cycleways in order to meet the needs of the rapidly growing population, which will result in more traffic. The County would like to keep the extra motorised traffic to a minimum and encourage other modes of transport. Similar schemes have substantially increased cycling in other areas, particularly amongst children.

Q: How is it being funded?

A: Through central government’s Cycle City Ambition Fund.

Q: Who approved it?

A: County Council Highways officers identified Hills and Huntingdon Roads as main routes into Cambridge that would benefit from enhancement. The scheme was first presented to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee in May 2014. Councillors deferred it as they were unhappy with elements of the scheme including the floating bus stops, and changes were made. It was passed in July 2014 at the second time of asking, with an undertaking to conduct traffic surveys before and after implementation, an amendment I requested, in order to assess the level of rat-running as a result of the narrower road carriageway. One survey was done last year and another will be done after completion.

Q: Will any trees be felled?
A: The County Council has stated categorically that no trees will be felled. Some pruning of vegetation that encroaches onto the public highway may be necessary.

Q: Will new rubbish bins be provided at bus stops?
A: Providing litter bins is a City Council responsibility. The County Project Team is discussing with City Council about replacement of old bins with new ones and other locations where a new bin may be desirable.

IMAG1839Q: How will works across junction mouths be organised?
A: Junctions are being closed off at weekends to allow works to be safely and quickly undertaken. Letterdrops to residents and advanced warning notices inform those affected at least one week in advance.

Q: How will work on junction mouths of cul de sacs be organised?
A: Junction works to be constructed one half at a time with access maintained into/out of the cul de sac.

Q: Could the concrete layby near Glebe Road be used as a bus stop?
A: This layby is halfway between two other bus stops so if a bus stop went there, the other two stops would be removed, meaning bus users would have a long walk to the next stop.

Q: What consultation took place before this scheme was agreed?
A: The proposals were advertised in FOCUS, as well as via a streetletter from myself to all residents in Hills Road and several of the side roads. The County Council delivered leaflets with feedback forms to a wide local area and held local staffed events in March 2014. Drawings and information on the proposed scheme were put on the County Council website, together with contact details.  The Team also had information stalls at Hills Road VI Form College, Long Road VI Form College and at an Addenbrooke’s Sustainability Event.

In November 2014 the County Cycling Team wrote again to residents inviting them to a pre-construction event at Rock Road Library — an opportunity to find out about boundary issues, construction sequence etc.  This event was well attended by residents of Hills Road. The letter included details of where the final drawings could be seen on the website and asked residents to provide email addresses if they wanted updates on the scheme.

Q: What will happen when there are weddings and funerals at the church? What about hearses and wedding cars?
A: The Cycling Team has been liaising with St John’s Church. During construction, the cycleway works will be left in an appropriate state to accommodate wedding cars and hearses. After completion, wedding cars and hearses will be able to park for the duration of services, as the new cycle lanes are not ‘mandatory’ and there are no loading restrictions attached to the double yellow lines.

Q: Is the width of the carriageway being reduced?
A: Yes, the carriageway width is being reduced, to 6m.

Q: Will there be a loss of grass verges?
A: The roadside verges next to the road will go, but there is a half metre sedum strip between the cycleway and the footway on both sides of the road.

On the outbound side of Hills Road, the verges next to the houses will be largely the same except where space is needed for the floating bus stops.   On the citybound side (the side with the current shared-use cycle/footway) the verges next to the houses are increasing.

Here is a link to the drawings showing details:
On the west side of Hills Road (S to N), from No. 284 to 256, and from 248 to 228, a 800 or 900mm wide strip of footway will be turned into new verge. From No. 226 to Homerton College this strip widens to between 1.4 and 1.6m and then it is about 2.5m wide running past Homerton College. On the east side (S to N),  there are no significant areas of new verge until you get to the block north of Glebe Road, No.s 253 to 247 have 1.2m wide new verges. Re. the loss of those verges on the residence side of the footway, the only real areas where there is loss of verge is near the floating bus stops (and to some extent near crossings) but this does vary depending on the location.

Q: Was Cambridge City Council consulted?
A: The City Council is a statutory consultee for every cycling project within Cambridge.   The Project Team was keen to gain the input of City’s Urban Design team on the Huntingdon Road and Hills Road schemes – a meeting with the City’s Head of Urban Design was arranged before the schemes were approved and, in neither case were concerns raised about the proposals.

Q: Are our streetlights being replaced to facilitate the cycleway scheme?
A: No, the streetlighting on Hills Road is not being replaced as a result of the cycleway scheme but as part of the County’s streetlighting replacement programme – as such, the lighting along the whole length of Hills Road is being updated to conform with new British standards.

Q: At present, the pavement cycleway on the northbound side of Hills Road provides a convenient way of turning into Luard Road. Won’t the new arrangement be more dangerous?
A: The main carriageway on Hills Road will be narrowed to 6m, which should reduce traffic speeds. Equally, the speeds of vehicles exiting side roads should be slowed by the tighter turning movements required by the new scheme.

The Road Safety Audit 2 did not raise any issues about the changes to this junction, nor the removal of the shared-use foot/cycleway. The new scheme (unlike the shared-use foot/cycleway) gives cyclists on Hills Road priority through the junction with Luard Road so there should be a reduction in the number of cycle-related accidents at this location. Less confident cyclists on Hills Road may choose to pull in and wait on the left side of the new southbound 2.3m cycle lane before turning right. The County Council will monitor the situation and may consider installing a central island that would offer cyclists some protection whilst waiting to turn right.

Q: How will it be made clear that vehicles cannot drive across or park on the cycleway?

A: Cycle symbols will be added to the cycle lane and double yellow lines will be painted on the main carriageway (next to the outside edge of the cycle lane) to prevent parking in the new lane. This work should be taking place on the northbound side in  November 2015.

Q: How will the construction for the southbound side of Hills Road be handled?

A: The intention is to keep the citybound shared-use path open whilst the outbound works are carried out – to ensure safety for cyclists and pedestrians during the construction phase. The footpath work will be done first, then the cycleway and ‘Cambridge kerb’.

Q: Whom do I contact for more information?
A: If it is an operational matter, contact Grant Weller at Cambridgeshire County Council: [email protected] If your question is about consultation or general principles, contact Mike Davies: [email protected]

MONDAY 5TH OCTOBER: REPORT ON THE PRESENTATION ON CYCLING SCHEMES AT SOUTH AREA MEETING, ST JOHN’S CHURCH, HILLS ROAD.

Queen Edith’s being pushed eastwards!

QE red wardThe Boundary Commission has just published proposals for changes to the Cambridgeshire electoral divisions, as part of its periodic review. The Commission is charged with arranging the boundaries of the divisions so that they all have roughly the same ratio of electors per councillor. For example, at present, Cherry Hinton has 6,344 voters, while Market Ward in the city centre has 8,495. The new boundaries are intended to come into effect in 2017, when we next have Cambridgeshire County Council elections, so the figures take account of projected housing growth, eg the Bell School. The other factor is that the total number of councillors will be reduced from 69 to 61.

This review is for the county council elections and will not automatically change the Cambridge City Council ward boundaries, although the City Council may well follow suit so that people are in the same voting areas for all local elections. Who knows what impact it will have on a future parliamentary boundary review? Maybe there will be a chance to address the odd situation of Queen Edith’s having a different MP to the rest of Cambridge, but there are no guarantees.

Although Queen Edith’s is in between the two extremes with just over 7,000 voters, the proposal is to shift us eastward in order to get the numbers right on other wards which will have greater housing growth.

The Commission wants to move the odd side of Hills Road and everybody to its west into Trumpington, and to move parts of Cherry Hinton Road and streets leading off it into Queen Edith’s. Ironically, that would echo the ward boundaries before the last review. We’d lose Addenbrooke’s and Long Road Sixth Form College, but gain Hills Road Sixth Form College. Although the colleges don’t have any residents, it makes sense for the institutions that affect a community to be represented by the same councillor.

The Commission is also proposing to add the Greystoke Road area and the Cherry Hinton chalk pits – which have more of a Cherry Hinton feel to them than a Queen Edith’s one. It makes the ward a very strange shape. Here’s a map: https://consultation.lgbce.org.uk/node/4143

The Commission is inviting your comments up until 6th July.

Cambridge South Area: streetlighting Q&A plus new layout for Cherry Hinton High Street

The next South Area meeting is at St John’s Church Hills Road on Monday 30th March and here is the agenda.

The County Council’s streetlighting contractor Balfour Beatty will be sending a representative to explain the lighting contract, and answer questions about replacements in Queen Edith’s.

There will be reports on changes to the road layout in Cherry Hinton and Hills Road, and environmental services activity. Finally, the committee will vote on grants to community groups.

The meeting is open to the public and there is a slot at the beginning of the meeting to ask questions of councillors. Sometimes questions can be answered on the spot, and if questions highlight issues that need to be addressed, they will be taken up by councillors after the meeting.

Hills Road segregated cycleway work has started.

Cambridgeshire County Council is starting to build new segregated and raised cycle lanes on Hills Road. The works are taking place off-peak between 930 and 330pm. The new cycleways are set to be completed in the autumn.

There will be cones and temporary traffic lights during these times to create a safe working area. Whenever possible a cycle lane will be kept open throughout the road works.

Some weekend closures of the side roads will also be necessary to enable the works to be carried out with the least disruption to motor traffic — but not until the spring. Here is a list of planned closures:Floating Bus stop leaflet_main page

Hills Rd closures

As part of the scheme, all the bus stops along this stretch will have new bus shelters.

Concerns have been raised recently about the amount of grass verge being lost, as well as the siting of the new bus stops. A group of Hills Road residents and I met the Cycling Team last week and discussed various issues.

For changes to the original scheme to address safety concerns, see my previous post here.

If you did not get to one of thepublic exhibitions showing the plans, here are some technical drawings of the road layouts, as displayed

Cycle lanes_C_5040001_HW_EL_012_REV G-2

Cycle lanes_C_5040001_HW_EL_011_REV G-3

Cycle lanes_C_5040001_HW_EL_010_REV G-5