Fears about ‘kamikaze’ motorists put Cambridge road scheme on hold

News just in.

A road scheme in Cambridge, which would involve giving motorists ‘priority’ along a road, has been put on hold due to concerns about the behaviour of a minority of motorists.

Plans for a new Cambridge road scheme involving ‘junctions’  have been put on hold amid fears about safety and “kamikaze” motorists.

Members of the county council’s economy and environment committee had been due to sign off on the £1.8 million project for Hills Road and Huntingdon Road today but instead deferred their decision, calling for revised plans to be put before them in July.

They voted to defer by a margin of nine five despite a warning from officers that the Government money had to be spent by May and that there was a “risk” a delay could torpedo the whole scheme.

Several councillors’ concerns focused on the roads and the junctions, which would allow motorists to continue pass unimpeded, but would force pedestrians to cross the road.

The proposals were criticised by disability groups, who described them as an “accident waiting to happen”.

Councillors were unmoved by the suggestion of raising the ‘driving lane’ through the junctions and making it narrower, which would have slowed drivers and made it easier to cross.

Cllr John Williams, who represents Fulbourn, said: “I can’t tell you how often I see motorists disobeying red lights and not stopping at pedestrians crossings and pelican crossings.

“I don’t have any confidence motorists will give way to pedestrians moving across the junction because of what I see going on in this city with motorists. Unless we make pedestrians the priority at these junctions, I have serious concerns there will be an accident.”

The junction designs were backed by about 60 per cent of respondents in a consultation which received nearly 1,700 responses, but more residents of the streets concerned were opposed than in favour.

Cllr David Jenkins, who represents Histon, told the meeting: “I’m concerned about motorists’ behaviour. It’s only a small minority, but it’s a significant small minority of ‘kamikaze’ motorists in the city and they are intolerant of other road users, and there has to be some way of policing them. Simply allowing them to have priority means less confident pedestrians will be stranded as these motorists go past.”

Other councillors spoke in favour of the project, including Castle’s Cllr John Hipkin, who argued pedestrians could make sense of the junction.

He said: “No traffic scheme can entirely discount common sense and every traffic scheme relies on common sense to make it work. I think this is a project which, on balance, I support. I full support some of the misgiving of my residents but on balance I shall support it.”

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13 Responses to Fears about ‘kamikaze’ motorists put Cambridge road scheme on hold

  1. T.Foxglove says:

    Bravo!

  2. Matthew.W says:

    :) Never gets old.

    • Mark Hewitt says:

      Except it does and it is doing. Hopefully that’s the last time this method is going to be used as it’s old now.

  3. £1.5 billion on the A14 upgrade, which connects to Huntingdon Road. The A14 is regularly beset by accidents, bringing access to Cambridge to a standstill.

    Obviously we should hold the A14 upgrade until drivers can prove they can operate vehicles without colliding with each other.

  4. paulc says:

    I see what you did there…

  5. davidhembrow says:

    That the scheme has been “put on hold” for such a reason as this is no surprise to me as I lived in Cambridge for many years and have heard many such points put forward by councillors in the city. Cambridge has odd demographics. The segment of the population which does most of the cycling is quite separate from the segment of the population which mostly does not. The reasons why the high cycling segment cycle at the moment are not something that can be replicated even within the city, let alone to other cities. What Cambridge desperately needs is proper high quality cycling infrastructure which will enable everyone to cycle.

    However, that’s not what was on the table here. The plans for Hills Road and Huntingdon Road were, as I pointed out a month ago, extremely poor. Very little has been lost because not much was being considered in the first place (i.e. before the inevitable process of negotiation started – the first step of which seems to be that it’s all “put on hold”).

    The one thing which this whole story really highlights is that there is absolutely no point in having low aspirations and settling for second best plans. These can be derailed, “put on hold” and chipped away at by a bargaining process just as surely as can very high quality plans. Cambridge, like everywhere else, needs to aim high. Aim for true Dutch quality infrastructure and you just might start to get close to that standard. Achieve something along those lines and the demographic divide would be bridged and that could result in fewer problems in future with councillors rejecting schemes for the wrong reasons.

    • Paul M says:

      I haven’t followed this closely enough to know this to be true, but I have seen plenty of cases where proposals for cycle facilities which fall short of ideal but are nevertheless an improvement on the status quo fall by the wayside, at least partly because the local authority can say that they were opposed by cyclists themselves. I think most LAs would be rubbing their hands with glee when they are let off the hook this way – they don’t have to take the opporbrium on their own shoulders, they can simply blame the moaners who are wont to bite the hand that feeds them. That fits perfectly with most non-cyclists’ image of cyclists.

      Job done!

      • davidhembrow says:

        I won’t applaud crap.

        Instead of criticising me based on not knowing about it yourself, find out. All the information is out there. Watch the video which the council made about the new design for Huntingdon Road and perhaps also read my comments about it as well, and decide for yourself whether you think this is good enough to support.

        Personally, I don’t think we should applaud anything which has the long list of faults which that proposed facility has. Whether its benefits would outweigh the problems it will certainly create is rather open to question. It’s far from a clean cut improvement and personally I think it is far too flawed to support. I wouldn’t want to be boxed in within a too narrow cycle-lane at the left of the road with barely any separation from motor traffic and hard kerbs at both sides, especially on a downhill where higher speeds require more width. I’d definitely not want to be kept in that position across badly designed junctions which make it only too easy to be left hooked and I see no reason at all to want to be boxed in until very close to junctions where you’re required to suddenly swerve out from the left in order to “take the lane” in the middle merely to go straight ahead. That’s without even mentioning the bus stop designs, which have their own problems for cyclists (though certainly not in the way the councillor thinks for bus passengers).. This is so far from being good that I cannot support it. What’s more, it only applies to a short length of the downhill side of the road. It gives up well before the main junction where you might really want some help and cyclists going back up the hill get nothing.

        There are plenty of people already applauding crap and unfortunately they’re sometimes successful in getting exactly what they ask for. Is that effective cycling campaigning ? Would it be made more successful if all campaigners can be convinced to agree to applaud the crap ?

        • “I wouldn’t want to be boxed in within a too narrow cycle-lane at the left of the road with barely any separation from motor traffic and hard kerbs at both sides”

          Just as well that’s not what is proposed. That was one of 3 options on the table at consultation, but despite a public preference for curb segregation, the officers ended up recommending the ‘hybrid’ option, which results in wider lanes, and also means that cyclists can cycle out of them to avoid hazards and make right turns whenever they want. This has it’s own problems, but it’s not your complaint.

          ‘downhill’
          Just how well do you remember Cambridge, David? I certainly don’t notice enough of a slope on Huntingdon Rd to either benefit going towards town or exert myself going away!

          Since you do know Cambridge, you are no doubt aware that your gold-standard 2.5m lane + 1.5m separation in each direction wouldn’t fit for any stretch on almost any road within the city (maybe Milton or Newmarket Rd, but you can probably prise the bus lanes from Stagecoach’s cold, dead hands). I’m glad that Cambridge never got it’s 60’s dual carriageway inner ring road, but it does mean that the existing road layout is not generous. Quite apart from the political situation, there are physical constraints. So do we just give up, because gold standard is off the table?

          You are incredibly naïve about the political situation. Please, send us your Dutch cycle campaigners. I would genuinely like to see them do better in the political and cultural climate here. This post is an example of exactly why you are wrong – majority of councillors from outside of Cambridge, who don’t cycle, making decisions on the city, and citing anti-social cycling as a reason not to improve cycle infrastructure.

          Cyclist indifference had nothing to do with it: consultation response was majority in favour of changes, majority in favour of the bus stop bypasses. Cyclists were, unsurprisingly, most in favour of all respondents.

          • davidhembrow says:

            So of three compromised choices you’re going for the “hybrid”… That’s another Cambridge mistake. It’s not genuinely Dutch, it’s not a “thing” over here at all. Such lanes are simply known as “old” and they’re disappearing. This is something which was misunderstood by one of your campaigners and despite many attempts to put the record straight, it’s continued to be pursued on the basis that it is achievable. A steady churn of people over a few years probably means this is lost in history by now.

            Being able to leave the lane at any time is not the point. This just increases the opportunities that cyclists have to put themselves in front of motor vehicles. With the hybrid perhaps cyclists can leave the left side for the middle of the road a little sooner before they reach the junction which requires you to be in the middle in order to go straight on, but you wouldn’t need to do any of this at all if the lane were wide enough and the junctions were designed properly. That’s the problem.

            There’s not just one problem with this scheme (i.e. just the lanes, just the junctions or just the bus stops), it’s the whole thing which is wrong-headed.

            Over here, we don’t have cycle-lanes like you’re planning, we don’t have junctions like you’re planning and we don’t have bus-stops like you’re planning. All these parts of the plan are inadequate. There’s not much point in arguing the toss over whether one small part of it isn’t quite so bad as it might have been, as there’s no real victory there, you’ve just achieved a different shade of not-very-good.

            I’d agree that Huntingdon Road isn’t steep, but I can certainly remember going down it quicker than I went up. It’s the way that I often came back into the city after one of my regular Sunday morning runs through the countryside. There’s a farm along there which is called “Gravel Hill” for a reason and it’s pretty obvious from looking at house like this one that the bricklayer certainly thought he was building on a hill. Just after that downhill slope there’s a slight rise to the petrol station and then it’s down again… I can almost feel what it was like trying to maintain 40 km/h over the bump with already tired legs. But why are we arguing about the geography, which I’m sure hasn’t changed since I left the city.

            You tell me that the “gold standard” won’t fit on “for any stretch on almost any road” but where are you asking for it ? On the stretches where it will fit on the roads where it’s definitely possible ? Gilbert Road was an example of where it was very much possible, but there was no attempt to ask for this quality of provision.

            What is your approach to a “gold standard” ? To ignore it ? To make excuses for why it can’t be ? There’s a real problem here. You’re arguing for less before you even start negotiating. You’ve even done that in your response to me. You’re the cycling campaign, not Stagecoach. Don’t do their job for them. The width of road lanes is variable but you seem to see your role as cycling campaigners as being one of never demanding more than fitting in around the edges (in this case quite literally the edges of the road).

            If cycling campaigners won’t say what they’d really like, who do you think will say it on their behalf ?

      • pm says:

        Though it also works the other way – they provide rubbish, cyclists don’t use it because its rubbish, and then they can say ‘see, we spend all this money on providing facilities and you lot don’t use it – so we won’t bother next time’.

        They also always seem to find a way of spending mysteriously large amounts of money on providing very little (e.g. incredibly expensive blue paint) so they can then go on about how much money they spend on cyclists.

  6. vantheman says:

    Very clever

  7. vantheman says:

    My ‘very clever’ remark was posted at 1:56 in response to the original post. I’m not sure why it ended up here. However, in response to David Hembrow, I am completely in agreement that we should ask for the best possible Dutch-style infrastructure. I don’t believe we’ll ever get it on a national scale for the reasons elaborated by Magic Bullet. But perhaps we can achieve it at local level in places where the conditions are closer to the Dutch ideal, such as Cambridge.

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