Concern City Deal Plans Could Ban Bikes from Popular Route to Cambridge University West Cambridge Site

Thursday, October 20th, 2016. 9:19pm

A huge number of notices have been placed along Adams Road in Cambridge, and along the cycle and pedestrian footpath to the University of Cambridge West Cambridge site. The notices say:

Adams Road bike route under threat. Huge diversion planned increasing journey times by up to 15 minutes.
Posted by NNRA

This is clearly bizarre scaremongering nonsense; there are no plans to divert bikes away from Adams Road.

I went to investigate and was approached on Adams Road by Dan Strauss of the North Newnham Residents Association who claimed to be responsible for the signs.

Mr Strauss told me he was concerned about the prospect of buses from Cambourne being routed into Cambridge down Adams Road.
There is a Greater Cambridge City Deal proposal for a new bus route from Cambourne to the University of Cambridge West Cambridge site and potentially on into the city.

Adams Road isn’t currently on a through route for motor traffic and is an incredibly popular walking and cycling route between the University of Cambridge West Cambridge site and the city centre with its departments, colleges and accommodation. It is used by the wider population too, not just those associated with the university.

Mr Strauss told me that while there isn’t currently any proposal to ban bikes from using Adams Road he thought that a ban might be imposed if the road became a bus route.

I was told the North Newnham Residents Association has about a hundred members and they share Mr Strauss’ concerns and support the campaign.

My view is keeping the connections between the city centre and the West Cambridge site, the University Library and the West Road “campus” as safe and low traffic as possible is really important given the volume of people moving between those areas, largely by bike and on-foot, every day.

The option of using a track next to the Cambridge University Rugby Club as a busway to connect with the West-Cambridge site was proposed by Mr Strauss as an alternative to routing buses down Adams Road, or the parallel roads. If there is a need for buses to move between West Cambridge and Grange Road via a more direct, and traffic free route than the existing road network offers then that appears to me to look like an attractive option. Such a route would also potentially open up the opportunity for a more direct connection between Barton Road and West Cambridge site too, bringing those working and living in West Cambridge much closer by foot and bike to Grantchester Meadows and beyond. There is a chance to make an area which is currently impermeable to people trying to get around much more accessible, and effectively shrink this side of the city.


Richard Taylor : My questions to you were about your poster saying this bike route is under threat and I asked you for any basis for that, and whether you just meant it could become more dangerous if there were more buses on the route.
Dan Strauss : Well I think it is impossible to combine buses and bikes on this road because of the width. The average bus is 2.5m.
Richard Taylor : There isn’t a proposal to actually ban cyclists is there?
Dan Strauss : No. What I’m saying is it won’t be possible to mix bikes and buses … they will have to put the bikes somewhere else. There is a proposal to take them all the way round by the rugby ground.
Dan Strauss : All I want to say really is that it is a very serious threat and so the cyclists who are using it ought to be aware of what is going to happen.
Richard Taylor : So you think there is going to be a ban on cyclists or do you think it is just going to get more dangerous?
Dan Strauss : I think they’ll be banned.
Richard Taylor : On what basis? How have you come to that view? Why do you think there is going to be a cycle ban on Adams Road?
Dan Strauss : Well if you look at the map and look at the volume of traffic. I would like you to go back with your camera at nine am in the morning and 5 pm in the afternoon and look at the volume of traffic, of bike traffic, it isn’t just single young students going up and down it’s loads of people with kids in their carry-bikes and the volume is such that to combine that with thirty-five buses an hour is going to be highly dangerous and not a good idea for anyone.
Dan Strauss : Can I just point out to you where I think it should go, which is it should go along this perimeter.
Richard Taylor : Are we talking the bus way or cycleway?
Dan Strauss : Busway. And then between Clare Hall and the rugby ground is a large wide track, it doesn’t disturb any cyclists, it doesn’t disturb any residential areas and it would take you virtually to West Road.
Richard Taylor : My main reason for coming out… I actually came specifically to look at these posters, just to find out about them. They do seem a little bit alarmist to me, and also they don’t say, they say posted by NNRA with no expansion of that acronym, so can you tell me who is the North Newnham Residents’ Association? How many people are on its committee, or are members?
Dan Strauss : I think it is about a hundred. I think they are people who live in the streets in this little bit that isn’t Newnham and isn’t Madingley Road and isn’t the other residents’ associations.
Richard Taylor : So when I see these posters, how many people are behind them?
Dan Strauss : Well the committee. The association is.
Richard Taylor : So you’ve gone out to your members have you, about a hundred or so people, and said shall we run this campaign?
Dan Strauss : Yes. We felt it is the whole West Field, the whole busway issue has been a very hot topic as you can imagine, as has the local plan, and the various things that are happening in this side of Cambridge and this feels like the most, because we were all slightly taken aback by the choice of the option.

Video source for above transcript.

After our discussion Mr Strauss asked me if I would stand for election and told me the Labour party have a vacancy for a candidate in Newnham. I said I would stand, if nominated, but not as a party candidate. Later after reading my website he got in touch and suggested I stand for Mayor [of Cambridgeshire and Peterborough].

As for the suggestion diverting bikes around Adams Road would increase journey times by fifteen minutes, well the adage everywhere in Cambridge is less than fifteen minutes away by bike comes to mind (though trips from King’s Hedges to Cherry Hinton might well be an exception).

There is quite some tolerance in Cambridge for campaign posters, and even banners. I hope the plastering of Adams Road with these over-dramatic posters doesn’t last long. I would like to see official notices from the Greater Cambridge City Deal in the area, signs on lampposts, and on noticeboards, are an old fashioned but very direct and inclusive way of informing people about proposals for change.

See also: Discussion on routing buses through these streets off Grange Road from the 13 October 2016 Greater Cambridge City Deal Board meeting.

7 comments/updates on “Concern City Deal Plans Could Ban Bikes from Popular Route to Cambridge University West Cambridge Site

  1. anadapter

    I’d dispute your ‘huge number’. Several yes. Maybe about 5 or 6 posters which is hardly ‘huge’. And while the threat is minimal for now, I don’t think it hurts for Adams Road residents to be vigilant about the busway plans. The posters would have benefited from a url or some other info to let folk know what it related to, though. I am aware that CamCycle have concerns about it too.

    1. Richard Taylor Article author

      When I was there posters were every five meters or so on the hedges of the properties, plus some on stakes, and then on many of the light poles on the cycleway to the West Cambridge site. Overall I estimate twenty posters over four hundred metres.

  2. anadapter

    Another thing. While bikes may not be banned, if they tampered in any way with the Coton bike path to create a bus route from there it would be likely to ruin a splendid/good, reasonably quiet cycle route.

    1. R Smith

      I thought it was quite useful there being so many posters put up. If there had only been a few I probably wouldn’t have noticed them or bothered to read them as I cycled past. My only criticism was that initially they had no details about the plans or petition. At least now there is an e-mail address and something you can scan with a phone. I cycle from the Bottisham area all the way through to the far West end of the campus each day to work and this cycle path is much preferable to the terrible one next to Madingley Road. It will be a great shame if bus traffic does end up on this road and I intend to sign the petition if I can figure out how to do it!

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