Chesterton Road Zebra Crossing – Lighting Maintenance Problems

Wednesday, July 8th, 2009. 12:00am

The zebra crossing on Chesterton Road between Carlyle Road and the Jesus Lock footbridge has been an accident blackspot, however following the installation of fantastic quality floodlighting and orange LED halos around the belisha beacons (Zebrite Belisha Beacons ) the number of incidents appears to have been falling. From what I can glean from the County Council’s website there have been only four recorded accidents causing injuries in 2006 – 2008 (1), compared with seventeen in 2004-6 (2). The improvements were made in mid-2007.

Despite the fact that properly lighting the crossing clearly reduces injuries Cambridgeshire County Council appear unable to keep the floodlights, belisha beacons, and adjacent streetlights working. I have reported various combinations of lights in the immediate area of the crossing being either out or flickering many times in the last six months or so. I have typically made the reports by phone to the answerphone service on 0800 253529 as I pass through the area in the dark. The problems I reported have not yet been fixed.

Currently the problems, in order of severity, are:

  • One of the main floodlights is intermittently flickering between on and almost off.
  • The streetlight on the river side of the crossing, towards Castle Street, is out
  • The orange centre of the belisha beacon on the Carlyle Road side, towards Castle Street, is out

To illustrate the what needs fixing I have taken two photographs this evening:

Crossing With Two Floodlights

Photograph showing both floodlights at normal intensity:

Chesterton Road Crossing - Two Floodlights Working

Even in the above photo, a streetlight to the left of the photograph is out (the bottom of the pole can be seen).

Crossing With Only One Floodlight

Chesterton Road Crossing - One Floodlight Out

Anyone on the pavement on the dark side of the crossing would be much harder for car drivers to spot under the lighting conditions shown in the second photo, compared to under the conditions shown in the first.

I have reported this problem using the FixMyStreet website.

See Also

22 comments/updates on “Chesterton Road Zebra Crossing – Lighting Maintenance Problems

  1. Richard Article author

    I reported this problem again on the 14th of September.

    The floodlight was working properly for a period in August but is now broken again. The streetlight has been out for much longer and has never been fixed.

    I raised this at the North Area Committee on the 12th of November, asking for the general problem of street lights being reported out not getting fixed to be addressed.

    County Councillor Kevin Wilkins agreed to take the matter up.

    (On the night of the Midsummer Common fireworks – the 5th of November, two police officers stood on the crossing for about 30 minutes to keep the traffic moving despite a constant flow of pedestrians. I wonder if those officers, who stood under the lights as they went on and off reported the problem?)

  2. Richard Article author

    I have received an update from the council:

    Dear Mr Taylor,

    I am pleased to inform you that our engineers have been out today and
    repaired the light that you reported which is number CCC18. I apologise
    for the delay and any inconvenience this may have caused.



    Shirley Thwaites

    Supervisor Street Lighting Call Centre

  3. rn

    More council incompetence. At 20.45 this evening; the light on the north of the crossing was still flicking between no power, dim power and full brightness. The streetlamp on the south side is still out.
    Maybe Cllr Wilkins needs to keep a better eye on his brief…

  4. Richard Article author

    After having visited this page and reading the report from the council saying that the light had been fixed, Cllr Rupert Moss-Eccardt went out to walk his dog. Like the previous commenter he also found the streetlight to be still faulty.

    I was copied in on an email to council officer Chris Sproston in which Cllr Moss-Eccart wrote:

    The lamp is still dim for long periods with short, occasional bursts of full brightness.

  5. Richard Article author

    I have created a video showing the problem:

    Light first goes out at 0:06
    Spot the cyclist at 0:25
    Light back on at 0:43, out at 1:22.
    Other angle: light out at 1:34, back on at 2:15

  6. Richard Article author

    The video appears to have prompted the council to finally fix the light. I spent about five minutes in the area earlier this evening and the light was on throughout.

    There are still many street-lights out on Chesterton Road, Carlyle Avenue and on Jesus Green on Midsummer Common; but this particularly valuable light is now back on.

  7. Richard Article author

    The council have written to me to say:

    Dear Mr Taylor,

    We apologise for the delay in repairing the column and we have now found what the fault was and it is now back in lighting. I apologise for the delay and any inconvenience caused. If you have any queries or require
    any further information please do not hesitate to contact me.


    Shirley Thwaites

    Supervisor Street Lighting Call Centre

    Cambridgeshire Highways

  8. Richard Taylor Article author

    I’ve made a new YouTube video showing the current fault:

    If you’re particularly impatient; skip to 16 seconds in to see the light go out!

    The new fault was reported last week via FixMyStreet:

    I’ve written to Shirley Thwaites of Atkins Global who responds to reports of broken streetlights on behalf of Cambridgeshire County Council letting her know the problem has recurred and sending her a link to this post and the video.

    I’ve also copied the people who were involved in prompting the November 2009 fix:
    Cllrs Wilkins and Moss-Eccardt, and council officers Alan Hitch and Chris Sproston.

    I have noted that despite the light’s key location it has taken longer than the 7 day average quoted by the council to fix.

    This is a really important accident blackspot; I came across the aftermath of a minor car vs bike incident there just a week or so ago; I regularly observe, and am involved in, near misses.

  9. Richard Taylor Article author

    Some ideas for a permanent fix to the accident blackspot problem:

    * Deter such heavy use of Chesterton Road; paint it red, cobble it, use pinch points on the entrance from Mitcham’s Corner.

    * Fly a new cycle bridge over all the way from Jesus Green and land it in the grounds of the Job Centre.

    *Widen the existing bridge / add a cycle lane to it.

    * Close this end of Carlyle road to motorised traffic for a short stretch; and install a proper cycle friendly traffic light controlled crossing; along the lines of what we’ve got at Gonville Place :

    Sorry for the hotlinking Martin! - Laziness

    Hopefully this is the kind of thing that the new format of North Area Committees will allow discussion of.

  10. wab

    “Deter such heavy use of Chesterton Road”. Well that would move the traffic to other streets, like Victoria Road. (Although I’m sure the Cambridge cycling lobby would want all cars banned from all of Cambridge, as the “solution” to this problem.)

    Do you have any evidence that that zebra crossing is an “accident blackspot” other than your personal observation? For example, is it worse than Victoria Road, where crossing from Garden Walk to Fisher/Holland Street on a bike is pot luck? (I guess you cross at Stretten Avenue, which is safer.)

    That zebra has never struck me as a particularly dangerous spot and I have never seen an accident there in 20 years, although I would guess given where you live you use that zebra more than I do. We could do with statistics rather than personal observation, though.

    Adding a new bridge over the road would be bloody expensive.

    Widening the existing bridge would seem to have no great bearing on this issue. In fact the current situation where cyclists (are supposed to) dismount ought to make the crossing safer. Are you in such a rush in life that you cannot spare ten extra seconds to admire the river scenery as you walk across?

    Closing this end of Carlyle Road is about the most plausible option you have given. But again, is this zebra really particularly dangerous?

  11. Richard Taylor Article author

    Ooops I appear to have skipped the normal process by writing directly to officers who have the power to get things done. Alan Hitch, the Area Lighting Engineer for Cambridgeshire County Council has responded to my email saying:


    As discussed, can you please arrange for this unit to be repaired today.
    Once repaired can you please e-mail Mr Taylor and all persons copied
    into this e-mail to confirm that the unit is back in working order.

    Thank you

    From his email address it can be seen “Darren” works for Atkins Global.

  12. Richard Taylor Article author

    Darren from Atkins Global has been in touch, he writes,

    Dear All

    I can confirm we have carried out repair to this light today.

    Regards Darren.

  13. Richard Taylor Article author


    I’m not sure how much faith to put in the County Council’s mapped accident data:

    Clearly there was a problem before the crossing was improved; but it appeared that when the consultation on doing that came out – so did a lot more statistics on injuries than were on the map.

    The commonly used path of cyclists is unusual and in my view dangerous. Cycling across the zebra crossing is very common – and technically that shouldn’t be done – its often not a safe practice particulary when people emerge on bikes from either the bridge or Carlyle Road and rapidly cross without giving traffic on the road time to stop. Also the volume of people and bikes crossing often, in my experience, results in impatient drivers pushing across the crossing even when people are on it. I’ve crossed half way many times and had a vehicle drive in-front of me.

    A bridge would be expensive; one was in the Jesus Green lottery bid. A tunnel would probably be impractical on the grounds of the gradients required which wouldn’t be conducive to cycling.

    Lastly the big difference between this site and Garden Walk to Fisher/Holland Street is the volume of cycle traffic; this is on a national cycle route and a very popular cycle commuter route.

  14. wab

    Thanks for the link to the accident stats, although it doesn’t explain what it is showing exactly (or even for what dates). It seems to claim that Victoria Avenue has even more accidents than the Jesus Lock zebra, which surprises me.

    I cycle on Victoria Avenue even more than across Jesus Lock and I find it to be one of the most pleasant roads in Cambridge to cycle along until you hit the Maid’s Causeway roundabout. And again, I have never seen an accident on Victoria Avenue, although I can believe their claim that the roundabout itself has lots of them.

    I would say that any cyclist that doesn’t dismount across the Jesus Lock zebra deserves what they get (although I’m sure I do that myself now and again).

    According to some Cambridge cycle route map that I eventually found (, the Jesus Lock zebra (and on up Carlyle Road) is not part of a national cycle route. But of course a lot of cyclists (and pedestrians) do cross there.

    According to that map, I can see that the “official” view is that cyclists should cross Victoria Road at Stretten Avenue. I prefer Garden Walk because (a) it is quicker for me, and (b) I hate the speed bumps on Stretten Avenue. So although my route is more dangerous, I think it is not dangerous enough to make me want to take the alternative.

    The bridge was one of the few parts of that grandiose lottery bid that made any sense. But for me the number one issue on Jesus Green is the appalling state of some of the pavements. And the city/county seem totally incapable of doing anything or wanting to do anything about that. The city would rather waste money cutting down perfectly healthy trees and then planting other ones (at great expense).

  15. Richard Taylor Article author

    The city council keeps making promises on the Jesus Green paths, but there’s been nothing other than some remedial patches done.

    On the “national cycle route”; I’ve used the wrong term there – your map shows it as part of the “signed primary on road network”; it is a popular and formally marked cycle route: Stretten Avenue -> Searle Street -> Carlyle Road.

  16. Richard Taylor Article author

    I and others have been suggesting this area for improvements. The North Area Committee on the 16th of May 2013 is receiving a report (PDF) stating:

    Carlisle Road/Chesterton Rd crossing
    The area has been identified by the County Council as an accident cluster site. Work is included in this year’s programme to analyse accident details and to develop proposals. It is important that proposals are designed to address the issues identified. The cost of proposals will emerge from this work and details of costs and the proposed scheme will be brought back to the North Area Committee for consideration

    It is excellent that this is being considered. I hope officers don’t just reach for old plans, which involved using paint to narrow the road for motor vehicles, and consider things like those I’ve suggested above. eg. a clearly marked cycle crossing on the road; perhaps even giving priority to cyclists.

    I think there’s a need to consider this junction in the context of Jesus Green and the bridge; as well as the length of Chesterton Road.

  17. Richard Taylor Article author

    Cambridgeshire County Council is considering local highways improvements schemes from 16 May 2016; the local area committee is to consider making applications to the County Council in September. One of the area’s councillors, Cllr Perry, has committed to look into improving this area:

    See also:

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