Pavement parking

Pavement: for pedestrians. That’s whom they are intended for.

Yet only too often, pedestrians can’t walk on the pavement safely because it’s blocked by parked cars. Not only does that mean people have to squeeze past cars and risk the doors opening in front of them, or walk in the road, but the cars are too heavy for the pavement, meaning they break and crack.

Parked vehicles on the pavement is a pain for all pedestrians, but most of all for anyone with a disability. For folk in wheelchairs because wheelchairs need the pavement width, and for blind and visually impaired people because they can’t see a car on the pavement and it is perilous for them to walk in the road. Young children in prams and pushchairs are also at risk when their parents have to push them in the road because the pavement is blocked.

Dorset MP Simon Hoare tabled a Private Members’ Bill in the House of Commons to ban pavement parking in 2015 but was persuaded to withdraw it when the Government promised to review the law and look at the options for changing it.

The review has been a long time coming but this week the Government’s Transport Committee has launched an inquiry. They are calling for evidence in three areas:

  • the impact of pavement parking;
  • the enforcement of pavement parking offences; and 
  • enforcement and, if necessary, reform of traffic regulation orders need to deal with pavement parking.

The closing date to submit written evidence is 14 May 2019.

You can comment on line at https://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/transport-committee/inquiries/parliament-2017/pavement-parking-17-19/.

Alternatively, I shall be sending in a representation myself on behalf of the many emails and phone calls I have received about pavement parking and how it affects them.

government inquiry

Gas repairs in Nightingale Avenue

The County Council informs me that Nightingale Avenue will experience some ‘disuption’ at the end of this month/ beginning of July, as Cadent Gas are carrying out repairs to a leaky gas main.

The biggest impact will be to pedestrians, as the work will be mostly on the pavement and verge of the street except for the Queen Edith’s Way junction, where there will be three-way lights.

Working times will be 08:00-17:00 on Nightingale Avenue and 07:00-19:00 at the junction with Queen Edith’s Way.

Hills Road cycleway: lessons to be learnt

Live on Hills Road? Travel along it?

Then you will know it’s been a rough ride since council contractors arrived at the beginning of January 2015 to replace our cycleway.

There has been deep dissatisfaction over the length of time this project has taken, as well as about working practices – and ironically, about the reduced road safety during construction.

With other Lib Dem councillors, I persuaded the County Council to undertake a review of the cycleway so that lessons can be learnt about what went well and what didn’t go so well, and applied in future projects.

Nearly 600 people participated in our survey on the quality of the cycleway and its construction. While cycling levels have gone up and cyclists say they feel safe on the cycleway, it’s not such a good story when it comes to the safety of pedestrians. We have had reports of  collisions at bus stops and delays for emergency vehicles. The project management came in for heavy criticism, with 45% of respondents describing the efficiency of the construction process as poor, inadequate, or very poor.

There were over 500 individual comments Hills Road survey Q10  (Additional comments), including 200 on road safety Hills Road survey Q7.2. We will be pushing to make sure that all of them are taken on board.

The survey results will be considered at the August meeting of the Council’s Economy & Environment Committee. Here is a link to the report.

Morley Memorial school development gets go-ahead

Morley passed!

On Thursday 16th March, Cambridgeshire County Council’s Planning Committee passed plans for the developments at Morley Memorial Primary School.

The developments will bring the entire school onto a single site, and create three new classrooms, as well as make improvements to toilets, windows and the boiler, which will save the school money on maintenance. The details of the plans and the council report can be read here.

Local residents and Morley parents, staff and governors attended the meeting to listen to and participate in the debate. So did a prospective Morley pupil, a delightful gurgly baby called Hannah, whose presence reminded us what it’s all about.

Pamela McLeman and Mary O’Flynn, a former school caretaker, articulated concerns about loss of open space, and parking and traffic.

The Head, Nikki Brown, spoke of why the changes are needed and how they would improve the day-to-day logistics of school life as well as cater properly for pupils and staff with disabilities – and make all the children feel part of the school.

I spoke in support of the application, while recognizing the tension between traffic and the educational needs. You can read my speech here: Morley planning application

Councillors were impressed with the plans, praising the way the architectural design of the new build would blend with the old buildings, and showing an appreciation of how the school has balanced the need for play space. There was an understanding of the traffic and parking problems but an acceptance that parking is a problem at all schools, and that it was not of sufficient weight to stand in the way of the school’s improvements.

Construction traffic and pedestrians and cyclists do not mix, especially for young children and I asked if the condition on delivery hours could be amended to be well clear of school finishing time. I am pleased that this was taken up. Deliveries will now have to be completed by 2.45pm in termtime.

Contractors will be encouraged to use Park & Ride, as there will be no parking on Blinco Grove except for the school car park.

Hills Road cycleway: how’s it been for you?

The first phase of the County Council’s new cycleway on Hills Road has had a big impact.

The County tells us it has increased cycling numbers since 2013, and it certainly makes for a smoother ride, especially on the southbound side of the road. It’s changed the landscape of Hills Road.  And it’s given us new bus stops.

October 2015 – Week 37, scheduled completion date!

BUT: the cycleway has generated hundreds of emails, letters and phone calls, due not just to the new road layout but to the sheer length of time it’s taken – or more correctly it is taking.  Two years on, it is still not completely finished, with the pink tarmac petering out at Holbrook Road, and a sedum strip that patently has not flourished. Residents have told me of many other examples of unfinished work.

Traffic management during construction was poor, ironically often putting cyclists and pedestrians at risk.

Was it worth it?

After a lot of effort, we have persuaded the County Council to undertake a review of the cycleway so that lessons can be learnt about what went well and what didn’t go so well. Although the next stretch of Hills Road going up to Addenbrooke’s is already scheduled, we have asked that the findings of the review be incorporated  during the works as they emerge. They will also inform future projects.

I am on a working party which will be looking at different types of evidence including the user experience, travel statistics and accident records. We would like to invite you to take part in an online survey and we are looking for views from all road users — that includes the experience of residents.

We want to know about your experience of the cycleway if you use it as a cyclist, and also about its impact on you if you don’t cycle, ie if you walk, take the bus, or drive.

Here is a link to the survey: http://www.smartsurvey.co.uk/s/hillsroadcycleway/

Highways improvements

zebraDo you have a suggestion for improving our roads and pavements, such as traffic calming, a zebra crossing or parking restrictions?

Cambridgeshire County Council operates a Local Highway Improvement (LHI) programme that funds small schemes costing up to £10,000. It is a competitive process and bids are scored by councillors, but some bids for funding from this area have been awarded funding, even though we have yet to see the results.

The application form has recently been updated and is now online at http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/lhi. You can download a guidance document with examples of what has been funded in the past.

The closing date for applications is Wednesday 30th November 2016. If you have a suggestion you would like to discuss, please get in touch with me, or contact the County Council direct by emailing [email protected]

City Deal consultation starts today

City DealThe Greater Cambridge City Deal is a partnership between central and local government to deliver new infrastructure in Cambridge and the sub-region.

It is managed by a board comprising leaders of the councils in the area (Lewis Herbert, Steve Count and Frances Burkitt), plus representatives from the universities and business. They have just launched proposals to tackle rush hour congestion and are proposing eight initiatives. Some of the proposals have had a mixed reception, particularly bus lanes at the expenses of trees. One that has generated a lot of controversy in this area has been the congestion checkpoints, which would block major roads at peak times, incuding Hills Road.

The package includes:

  1. Better bus services and expanded use of Park & Ride
  2. Better pedestrian and cycling infrastructure
  3. Improved public space and air quality
  4. Peak-time Congestion Control Points (PCCPs)
  5. A Workplace Parking Levy
  6. On-street parking controls
  7. Smart technology
  8. Travel planning

These proposals aim to transform people’s ability to travel into, out of and around Cambridge by providing more efficient, safe and reliable capacity for travel, without the need to get in a car.

There is more information on the City Deal’s website and at community hubs and employment locations across Cambridge, South Cambridge and beyond. A series of events and exhibitions are being held including three in Queen Edith’s:

Addenbrooke’s Concourse tomorrow, 12th July

Babraham Road Park & Ride site 13th July

St John’s Church, 20th July

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!

Why a road safety initiative is frightening parents

Speed up as you approach a school –really?

Speed up as you approach a school –really?

The signs say ’30, 20 zone ends’ — you can see them in Blinco Grove, Hartington Grove and Hinton Avenue. The sign in the picture is in Blinco Grove, home to Morley Memorial Primary School.

Why are our streets still 30mph while streets on the other side of Cherry Hinton Road are 20mph?

The speed limit is changing throughout Cambridge, following last year’s citywide consultation on a change to 20mph, to improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists. That resulted in a public vote of confidence for changing the limit to 20mph in most residential streets.

The implementation of the 2omph project is being rolled out in four phases. The east area is being done now, and as part of their signage, the Council is installing signs like the one pictured.

But many Queen Edith’s residents have said the signs virtually invite cars to speed into streets such as Blinco Grove, Hartington Grove and Hinton Avenue. Ironically, these streets are used by vulnerable road users, such as children going to Morley Memorial Primary School – just the people the 20mph limit is intended to protect.

People are already reporting cars speeding up as they exit Cherry Hinton Road, egged on by the signage. One parent of young children has described it as ‘terrifying’ to have cars ‘belting down’ our roads, as they rat-run between Cherry Hinton and Hills Roads.

Queen Edith’s should be 20 too by next spring or summer, subject to the traffic regulation orders going through. That’s a long time, plenty long enough for an accident. It would be horrible if an initiative to improve road safety results in an accident because of the timelag.

I have asked the Council to address this unintended consequence. We hope they can come up with a solution.

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.