It’s not just the clocks you need to check on Sunday

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This is just a quick reminder that this Sunday, 25th March, The UK will switch to British Summer Time at 1am on Sunday morning, meaning people will effectively lose an hour’s sleep. 

The change will mean there is more daylight in the evenings but less in the mornings.

Most electronic devices these days will change the time for you, so you’ve no need to worry but I want to make sure residents do not miss that extra hour.

When changing your clocks manually, it is also a good time to check the batteries in your smoke alarm.

Working smoke and carbon monoxide alarms can save your loved ones’ lives as well as your own.

Smoke alarms provide the best early warning system in the event of a fire by combining smoke detection and alarm sounding in one unit.

For further information on these lifesaving devices go here.

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.

Guided Busway lights are going in!

Cones for the trenches for the lights

Cones for the trenches for the lights

Amanda with one of the new light columns

The new lights are in hand!

At long last, work has begun to instal lights on the bridleway along the Guided Busway.

This is the culmination of a campaign that started in 2012, with a LightTheCycleway! petition presented to the Conservative County Council Cabinet requesting lighting on the southern section of the Busway, between the railway station and Addenbrooke’s Hospital.

Trenching work began on Monday near the Hauxton Road bridge, and column positions have been marked out this week. The plan is to complete the lighting by the autumn, in time for the darker evenings. Here’s a County Council document with more information.

See background on the reasons for the lighting.

 

Busway lighting coming at last

IMG_2694SMWalkers and cyclists on the track alongside the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway should be able to see where they are going this winter, thanks to new LED lights to be installed over the next few months. The lights are being funded by local developers.

This is the result of a long-running campaign to make the route safe in the early mornings and evenings.

Funding was agreed in principle in 2012 following a petition run by Amanda Taylor and fellow Liberal Democrats in response to people concerned about accidents, but the project was held up last year by UKIP and Tory county councillors who wanted to divert the money to their own areas.

Cambridgeshire County Council has created a timetable and fact sheet which you can view on line at

The new lights will be Light Emitting Diode (LED) and there will be 68 between the railway station and Trumpington Park & Ride, and 23 north of Milton Road. They will direct the light downwards to illuminate the track.

Next phase of streetlight replacements in Queen Edith’s

Cambridgeshire County Council’s streetlighting contractor Balfour Beatty will soon be returning to Queen Edith’s for the next phase of streetlight replacements. This is part of a countywide PFI programme to change all the streetlights in Cambridgeshire to a new, more energy-efficient type of light that will deliver energy savings of nearly 50%. The new lights are taller and we are told they illuminate a wider area.

The Conservatives, who ran the Council at the time the contract was set up, gave us a rigid contract, with very little flexibility on issues such as removals and light types, but with loose provisions other areas, such as standards of service. The councillor who drew up the contract, has said in public, ‘If I had the chance to rewrite that contract, I would.’

Worse still, the Council agreed to a reduction of the total number of lights by 10%, and many smaller streets are losing more than that. Although this is leaving dark patches in many streets (such as Hinton Avenue picturd above), Liberal Democrat proposals to have lights reinstated in badly hit streets have been voted down by the other parties on the Council.

The next area to be visited by Balfour Beatty is Hills Road/ Babraham Road and streets off Hills Road such as the Red Cross Lane area and Luard Road. You can see what is planned at http://www.lightingcambridgeshire.com/news.htm, or download a plan:Hills Road main carriageway (ie not the slip road)

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Access Hills Rd -V11

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Babraham Road V1

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Luard Road V5

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Greenlands V4

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Red Cross Ln – V2

1425 Cambridge PRELIM–Stansgate Av V3

Please let me know if you would prefer to look at a printed plan.

The county Council’s lighting contractor Balfour Beatty is working with the cycle lanes contractor to synchronize their activities on Hills Road.

We did it! Busway lighting agreed

Busway 1Cambridgeshire County Council has agreed to provide LED lighting on the guided bus bridleway – a victory for all the 230 people who petitioned for lights in the interests of public safety. The new lights will go along the Busway maintenance track from Cambridge railway station to Trumpington Park and Ride.

The County Council’s Economy and Environment Committee voted almost unanimously for it yesterday, following speeches in support from myself and  Trumpington county councillor Barbara Ashwood as well as Jim Chisholm of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

I am delighted that at last we will be getting lighting along the bridleway. Usage doubled in the first year alone and there are now over 2,000 journeys a day, including many peoplewalking or cycling to work. Because it is completely unlit, it is unsafe in the early morning and evening, especially now the clocks have gone back. There have been accidents to individuals, and there are many who won’t use it after dark because of personal safety concerns.  This is very good news for everyone who uses the cycleway. Thank you to everyone who has supported this campaign.

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. (more…)

Balfour Beatty — lighting contract is not working that brilliantly

Has your street had new lighting yet?

We are in Phase II of the County Council streetlight replacement programme, the PFI which replaces all the lights in the county with new ones, in the interests of cutting energy costs by 50%. Phase II is going a bit better than Phase I, but I am hearing about lots of problems.

While the idea is excellent – new lights using half as much energy – it is being badly handled by the contractors, Balfour Beatty, to whom the Council has handed responsibility for communication and consultation with residents as well as implementing the programme. Plans of which lights are staying or going are highly technical and you need to look at them on line – not possible for everyone. Notice is short, while if you contact their Customer Services Department you get an auto-message promising an answer in ten working days – locking the door after the horse has bolted in many cases.

The contract was written a long time ago, and failed to take into account the needs of vulnerable people, the historic nature of our city, and had no ‘wiggle room’. The Tory councillor in charge of Highways infrastructure admitted yesterday, ‘If I had the opportunity to rewrite that contract, I would.’

I am concerned about one particular street in our area, where a light will be removed outside the home of someone with a disability – in a road which has had more than its fair share of burglaries. There are cracked pavements and removing the light could put the safety of disabled and elderly residents at risk.

Residents want to see the light retained or others repositioned so that it doesn’t leave such a big gap, but there is little room for flexibility.

And in Blinco Grove, one of the city’s 19th century streets, the elegant cast iron street lights are being replaced with modern ones as a safety measure. Residents value the distinctiveness of the old lights and believe that if they must be replaced, the new lights should be in keeping with the historic street. The lights are scheduled to be removed on Friday (21st Feb), which leaves no time for residents to respond to the consultation, especially as many families are on school half term.

I have asked for the removal to be delayed so people can be briefed on the need for replacement and give them time to identify funding for lights of a more traditional style.

Cycling projects: time for the County Council to decide

Cyclists, hold your breath.

Two big cycling improvement projects are being recommended to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet next week:

And campaigners, take heart.

Both schemes are the direct result of people campaiging for the improvements they believed were needed:

(more…)

South Area councillors support cycling schemes

A bunch of simple line bikes. Image: Bianchessi

Transport was on the agenda again at this week’s South Area Committee meeting – councillors were receiving a report on transport projects from the County Council. Highways officers had assessed projects proposed by local people last March, and assigned them scores.

My Light the Cycleway proposal, to light the bridleway running alongside the Guided Busway, was given the top score, and another local project, improving the cycleways on Long Road, were given two of the top scores, and were well supported by councillors. I went along to speak, as did Sam Davies, who has spearheaded the Long Road campaign. Read about it in the Cambridge News.