Highways improvements: clean sweep for Queen Edith’s

Eight out of eight bids for highways improvements in Queen Edith’s have made it to the list of funded projects for the coming year – including one which made the top ten for the whole city.

I have been working with local residents to get funding for various small highways schemes, under the County Council’s Local Highways Initiative, which funds schemes up to £10,000. We had to submit the bids last autumn and they were scored by a panel of councillors in January.

A bid for mobile speed signs in Queen Edith’s Way was the top-scoring bid in our area. Many thanks to QEW resident Ken Hart, who put the bid together, and addressed councillors on the day. Speeding is a continual cause of concern in Queen Edith’s Way, especially at the Hills Road end.

The other bids were for parking restrictions, to address concerns raised by residents in many streets:

Cars on the grass

  •  Topcliffe Way, where vehicles park on the grassed island
  • Godwin Way, where vehicles park on the grass outside the school and too close to the junction with Wulfstan Way
  • Netherhall Way and Chalk Grove, to tackle double parking and junction parking
  • Cavendish Avenue, to tackle double parking and junction parking
  • Beaumont Road to tackle junction parking
  • Lichfield Road– submitted by Coleridge ward councillors

Many thanks to all the residents who provided evidence for the bids, especially those who attended and spoke at the council meeting.

Be a streetscape designer!

There was a good response to last year’s consultation on improving cycling and pedestrian facilities on Queen Edith’s Way. The County Council has arranged a stakeholders’ workshop at The Netherhall School Sports Centre on 15th March to look at the results, and to consider what is feasible given the widths of the carriageway, verge and footway/cycleway. There will be an opportunity to do a bit of road and streetscape designing. The scheme will include improvements to the Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road roundabout and the approach on Queen Edith’s Way to the Robin Hood junction.

The conclusions of the workshop will shape the design options proposed in the full public consultation in June. If you would like to attend, contact me for the details.

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.

Success for Fendon Road roundabout campaign

fendon_7875_WEBThe Lib Dem campaign for remedial work on theFendon Road roundabout has resulted in allocation of transport funding by the Cambridgeshire County Council..

The roundabout connects Queen Edith’s Way, Fendon Road and Mowbray Road and is ua key route to Addenbrooke’s Hospital. It is used by more than 300 cyclists an hour, yet has the second worst cycle accident record in the city. It is also so difficult to cross for pedestrians that some people even take a taxi to the hospital rather than risk their lives crossing the road.

Queen Edith’s City Councillor, George Pippas has been campaigning for a crossing and Cllr Tim Moore ran a traffic count about this time last year, covering the morning and evening rush hours. In just one hour he witnessed two near-miss accidents involving pedestrians and a further incident where a cyclist was forced to jump on the pavement to avoid being hit by a vehicle.

Yesterday Tim attended the County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee to describe his findings and to support the project.

Now the junction, which is a main route for children going to school and students heading for the city’s sixth form colleges, will be improved with a share of a £2.3 million Cambridgeshire County Council improvement fund, which will also pay for improvements to Cherry Hinton Road and Queen Edith’s Way, where the current dual use for cyclists and pedestrians causes many conflicts.

I am relieved that we are finally going to get improvements and a crossing that are so desperately needed at this junction to keep cyclists and pedestrians safe. I am pleased our concerns have been heard and acted upon so that we can put in place safety measures and hopefully reduce the accident risk at this junction.

Roundabout survey this Thursday: can you help?

Amanda at Fendon Rd roundabout

Amanda at Fendon Rd roundabout

The Fendon Road roundabout near Addenbrooke’s Hospital is a cause of concern to many local residents, and we have been asked for a pedestrian crossing, as well as safety improvements to the roundabout, which has one of the worst accident records in the city (34 crashes in one 5-year period).

Local campaigner Dr Tim Moore monitored traffic one morning during rush hour. In just one hour, he saw more than 300 cyclists pass through the area and more than 150 pedestrians, many of them school and college students. He also witnessed two near-miss accidents involving pedestrians and a further incident where a cyclist was forced to jump onto the pavement to avoid being hit by a vehicle.

Here is a video taken by cycling teacher Rad Wagon, showing the volume and speed of traffic: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RLB8aKMmqZU

Dr Moore is working with me and fellow local councillor George Pippas, and we are working on Cambridgeshire County Council to make safety improvements.

To provide evidence, we shall be carrying out a traffic survey this Thursday, counting vehicles, bikes and pedestrians, covering Fendon Road, Mowbray Road and Queen Edith’s Way during both rush hours. We’ll present our findings to Cambridgeshire County Council highways officers.

Thank you to all those who have offered to help. We could still do with a few more people. Could you spare 15-30 minutes on Thursday afternoon? If you can, please email our Survey Co-ordinator, Dr Tim Moore: [email protected], or phone him on 07973 882121.

Marque building works

The builders carrying out the erection of The Marque on the corner of Hills and Cherry Hinton Road are using the pavement and cycleway for working in, which means no cycle lanes until the work is complete. I have heard this isn’t likely to be until Christmas!

Meanwhile, I have heard complaints from people who are finding Hills Road even harder to cross than usual, as well as seen the extra congestion in the mornings for myself. On some days the builders are using the car lane as well as the bike lanes for carrying materials, and this morning there was a lorry parked right in front of the traffic lights.

I am making enquiries as to what hours they are allowed to operate, and to see whether safer working practices can be followed. This is already one of the most dangerous junctions in Cambridge and it is unacceptable that it should be made worse. The route is used by many people, including children going to and from Morley and Coleridge.

Cycling blackspots: government announces funding to fix jeopardous junctions

Personal injury lawyers Levenes published a Top Ten Cycling Blackspots for Cambridge earlier this year. Two are in Queen Ediths – see their interactive map.

The Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road junction near Addenbrooke’s has the second worst accident record in the city – 34 crashes between 2005 and 2010;  the Hills/Cherry Hinton Road junction had 23. Work has been done on the Hills Road bridge, but the Cherry Hinton Road turn into Hills Road is still the most unnerving manoeuvre of my daily commute. Addenbrooke’s is generally difficult on a bike – or, for that matter, on foot.

In Queen Edith’s as a whole there were 13 accidents involving cyclists that caused serious injuries.

With this in mind, I very much welcome the announcement by Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker that £15 million is to be assigned to safety improvements at dangerous junctions for cyclists. It is not enough money of course – but it is a good start. There should be enough to do about 75 junctions.

Local authorities will be bidding for the fund. I would encourage you to write to the Transportation Department at Cambridgeshire County Council to support funding for the junctions that you consider dangerous, explaining why. As Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, a great cycling advocate, has said, “In order to promote cycling we have to make it safer, and that requires investment in infrastructure.”

Bring it on.