Liberal Democrat Councillors have judged the latest City Deal’s Milton Road proposals as “Close, but oh so far”.
“It’s right we recognise the huge strides forward the project has taken under the project manager appointed last year” said Cllr Ian Manning “but there are still fundamental flaws in the proposals that must be fixed before the project can progress.”.
The Lib Dems have identified the following headline issues:
- Junction design that favours road widths over safety and convenience of pedestrians and cyclists.
- Confusing forward stop lines that will stop the Copenhagen style crossings working properly.
- Imaginative design concepts around the library area, which came out of resident workshops, seem to have been totally forgotten.
- There’s still no guarantee the beautiful tree line will be replaced with the same quality as is there now.
- With the aim of getting buses to Mitcham’s Corner more quickly, we still don’t have a convincing explanation for how this will integrate with potential changes to the gyratory system
Newly elected Cllr Jamie Dalzell said: “I’m worried that, with Mayor Palmer’s pressure for delivery over quality, we’re getting less than the full picture here. There are many unanswered questions, and a disappointingly large amount of shared use pedestrian/cycle path, which are dangerous for both groups.”
Read on for more detailed comments from the team:
- The bus stop on Milton Road near the Arbury Road junction will still result in blocking of the road, rather than moving it to a position where it won’t restrict traffic flow, or will restrict it less.
- Highworth roundabout: shared surface on bottom unacceptable especially with the mix from shared to segregated and back again. Width should be taken from the road openings/divider to give enough with to pedestrians/cyclists
- Area near the library: where has the landscaping suggestions from the worksop gone for imaginative design around books? In the same area, there is no detail on Chesterton Hall crescent entrance - much scope for making pedestrian / cyclist interaction here less conflicting,
- Gilbert Road junction: they appear to have removed the traffic islands on Milton Road still without leaving space for a right turn lane just before the lights (which unhelpfully are not shown on the diagram). This retains one of the worst features of that junction. If the centre line followed the contour of the road instead of veering off to the left, a second lane could easily be accommodated.
- The right turn lane in the middle of the junction will only be useful if traffic stopped in it knows when it is safe to turn right (i.e. there needs to be a traffic light in front of them with a right filter indicator - the lack of which is another flaw in the existing scheme).
- All the lanes into advanced stop boxes are segregated, as well around all left bend partially - to protect cyclists against cars turning left. This needs to be partial, as some cyclists will want to go straight on
- On first review, Copenhagen crossing designs look initially good but the details are disappointing. For example on woodhead drive, we cannot see how the two stop lanes for motor traffic will work in practise. The smaller roads look ok in that the cycle lane is straight, but there are then no car markings, so it's confusing.
- It is essential that accessible crossings are available at junctions into residential side roads. Within the consultation document these are referred to as options 4a, 19a and 19b; all should be requirements to provide safe access to communities on these side roads.
The consultation now closes on 5th November. Please respond so that we can help secure a project that works for our entire community.
I've submitted the following written question to the next meeting of the County Council:
In September, it was reported that some Councils have been developing profiling for at risk residents and/or families:
Has the County Council any plan now or in the future to do this?
The City Deal is pressing ahead with its proposals for residents' parking in East Chesterton. This means marked bays on the road in which residents and visitors will need to buy permits to park. To find out what's proposed in your street we've made the plans available by street.
We've done a lot of work with residents to customise and change City Deal parking controls recently, often in the face of Labour councillors determined to press ahead. We've created an FAQ here with information about how these parking schemes work.
The most important thing to highlight is that there will be an overall reduction in parking spaces as a result of these plans - so please consider them carefully.
East Chesterton has been divided into three zones. If you live in a zone you would be entitled to buy a permit to park in any bay in that zone. To make it a bit easier to find out what is planned for your street we have listed most of the streets in the various zones below. Most of the maps have a key in the top right, but the important thing is that double yellow lines are solid red and proposed parking bays are green rectangles.
The South Zone covers everything south of Scotland Road and west of Green End Road. Maps:
These streets are in the South Zone:
- Capstan Close
- Chapel Street
- Chesterton Road (east of Elizabeth Way)
- Church Street
- Dalton Square
- Ferry Lane
- Grayling Close
- Green End Road (odds 179-211)
- High Street (evens 8-238, odds 81-243)
- Logans Way
- Longworth Avenue
- Lynfield Lane
- Maltsters Way
- Mariners Way
- Midhurst Close
- Primary Court
- St Andrews Road
- Scotland Close
- Scotland Road (evens)
- Whytford Close
- Wilding Walk
The west zone covers everything north of Scotland Road and west of Green End Road as far as Milton Road and Elizabeth Way. Maps:
These streets are in the west zone:
- Ashfield Road
- Chesterfield Road
- Cook Close
- Dundee Close
- Edinburgh Road
- Elmfield Road
- Fraser Road
- Green End Road (odds 1-167)
- Heath House
- Inverness Close
- Kendal Way
- Kinross Road
- Laburnum Close
- Milton Road (evens 182-324)
- Oak Tree Avenue
- Pakenham Close
- Pearl Close
- Scarsdale Close
- Scotland Road (odds)
- Sherbourne Close
- Sherbourne Court
- Shirley Grove
- Southside Close
- Sterling Close
- Union Lane
- Warren Road
The east zone covers everything south/east of Green End Road and Water Lane. Maps:
It includes the following streets:
- Anglers Way
- Bourne Road
- Bramley Court
- Cam Causeway
- Cheney Way
- Enniskillen Road
- Fairbairn Road
- Fen Road
- Gainsborough Close
- Green End Road (evens)
- Green Park
- Grieve Court
- The Green
- The Grove
- Izaak Walton Way
- Laxton Way
- Lents Way
- Long Reach Road
- Maitland Avenue
- Mays Way
- Mortlock Avenue
- Moss Bank
- Nuffield Close
- Nuffield Road
- Pearmain Court
- Pippin Drive
- Ribston Way
- Russet Court
- Water Street
After many months of campaigning by residents and the local school, the Greater Cambridge Partnership (City Deal) has agreed to think again on its plans for dangerous advisory cycle lanes on Nuffield Road.
Liberal Democrats had won public support for segregated cycling facilities on Nuffield Road, to provide pedestrians and cyclists with safer access to the school, medical centre, and Cambridge North station. But Labour councillors blocked these plans, leaving the City Deal with a plan for advisory cycle lanes only: paint on the road which will make nobody safer.
In an email to Cllr Ian Manning the County Council officer responsible for the project wrote:
"We received a number of negative responses to the consultation on the proposal for on-road cycle lanes, particularly from the Shirley School. We recently met with both the chair of the school governors and the head who are disappointed that the proposal for a segregated cycle route has not been taken forward. We would aim to undertake any work on Nuffield Road during the summer school holidays and so, given the ongoing discussions, are delaying any work until at least next summer."
This is now an opportunity for the City Deal and Labour councillors to look again and develop plans for Nuffield Road that meet the needs of vulnerable road users and residents alike. There's space for a good plan, and ambitious ideas to make Nuffield Road a street for people again; it just needs Labour councillors to abandon their "won't can't shan't" and start to engage constructively. Here's hoping they will.
I've received notice that an emergency order has been applied to close Fen Road around the level crossing between 0030 and 0830 on the 27th May.
The full order is attached. I've asked for an explanation of why, and I'm very conscious that this with a lack of notice could exacerbate the problems in the area.
The next meeting of the Chisholm Trail "local liaison forum" - the public facing meeting about the project is on the 15th May at the Shirley School.
THe meeting will consist of three items:
Project update - Mike Davies
Ecology - Tabitha Boniface
Landscape - Henry Casement
If anyone is very new to the project and has more general questions, then we will try and accommodate that on the night.
On Tuesday 1st May Cllr Anna Bradnam and I took time out of our election campaigns to talk to Network Rail about Fen Road Level Crossing. Along with local business owner Ian Litterick we asked them about barrier downtime, the effects of crime and anti-social behaviour on the crossing, and how they see the crossing's future. They have made some improvements in the area, will be trialling others, and are committed to keeping us informed about changes.
This followed my investigation into the operation of the level crossing and a supportive letter from the Department for Transport
The key in all crossing operations is safety, and the signalling system is designed to enforce that. It's very hard (going on impossible) to set the system to allow something dangerous to happen, so the signallers can't do very much to improve barrier downtime. However, there are some things they can do and we investigated those with Network Rail.
How does it work?
The crossing at Fen Road is operated directly from Cambridge Signalbox, a building just behind the Earl of Derby pub on Hills Road. CCTV cameras monitor the crossing so that when a train is scheduled to pass over the crossing signallers can check the crossing is clear and lower the barriers. In this view from the equipment room we can see the barriers on our level crossing in the top right.
The barriers on these crossings have to be closed before a signal is set to allow a train to go over the level crossing, and can't be raised again until the train has passed. There is an override (in case the train breaks down or something) to allow the signaller to raise the barriers, but because it's not safe to allow traffic to cross the railway while a train is scheduled to go over it, there's a delay of 3 minutes before the override takes effect. This not only gives the signaller a "Did you really want to do this?" prompt but also gives some protection against the expected train appearing again!
To raise the level crossing a signaller holds down a button next to a display on this enormous panel on the signalbox operations floor:
Obviously how quickly the signaller will react to situations at the level crossing will depend on how many other things they have to do, so this can sometimes mean barriers are down sooner than they need to be because a signaller has to concentrate on another part of the area they're responsible for.
More Signalling Staff = More Attention to Level Crossings
Network Rail have decided that the level crossings on the line need more human attention to operate them safely and effectively so they have decided to split the area around Cambridge into two and employ six extra staff to operate it. This will mean that from August, Chesterton level crossing (and some others nearby) will have much more attention from signalling staff.
Level crossings are misused frequently. While we were watching we saw a cyclist attempt to dive under closing barriers on Cherry Hinton High Street, and the signallers report that incidents like this happen every day at Chesterton too. Misuse has increased since the opening of Cambridge North station. People try to beat the barriers on bikes or in cars, and children are often seen climbing over the barriers, apparently sometimes then using the railway bridge over the river to get to Ditton Meadows! When this misuse happens the signaller has to keep the barriers down and advise every train to cross the crossing at walking pace until they're sure the trespassers are safely out of the way. This obviously increases the amount of time the barriers are down and makes trains slower.
Unfortunately the image quality of the CCTV at the level crossing is not good enough to read number plates or identify drivers. Network Rail do have some level crossing CCTV systems which have higher resolution and can read number plates. I encouraged them to upgrade Chesterton crossing to use this equipment.
Network Rail are very keen to engage with the community about the dangers of level crossings, and share my aspirations for alternative routes over/under the railway for cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians.
At the moment trains starting at Cambridge North station travelling towards Cambridge have the signal set to green and the level crossing barriers closed considerably before the train departs. Network Rail have agreed to trial an alternative sequence which should only close the barriers when the train actually leaves Cambridge North.
There is a set of railway points on the railway south of the river whose speed limit is currently 15mph. These are used by trains starting and stopping at Cambridge North platform 3. They have recently been improved to increase this speed limit to 25mph which should also improve barrier times.
New timetables are coming to this area as we get new longer trains and through routes to Brighton and Gatwick. May's timetable should not affect the level crossing timings much, but December's will bring a significant increase in the number of trains running over the level crossing. Network Rail have committed to produce some estimates of how the December timetable changes are likely to affect the amount of time the barriers are down.
Network Rail are also happy for us to contact them with queries about excessive barrier downtime, so if you've been held at a barrier for too long, let us know when and we'll chase it up with them.
There is a planned workshop, run by Cambridge Hack, on the City deal Local Liason Forums. It asks attendees to answer a number of questions, and I'm interested in what resident attendees think.
What training would help you to fulfill your role [on the LLF] better?
What do you believe are the top three strengths of the current LLF set-up?
Top 3 improvements you would like to see?
What is the single impedement to effectiveness of the LLFs as they currently operate?
What would make this work shop a success for you?