Vehicles related to the refurbishment of the Revolution bar on Downing Street in Cambridge have been parked blocking the cycle lane outside the bar over the last few days.
The cycle lane on Downing Street outside the bar enables cyclists to travel against the flow of motor traffic on the road. When the lane has been blocked some cyclists have decided to ride their bikes against oncoming cars buses and lorries in the motor lane.
The pavement in front of the bar has been closed at times too, making it even harder for people to walk, or push their bikes, through the area.
There is no official signage for the closures which do not feature on Cambridgeshire County Council’s list of road works. The closures appear to have been carried out haphazardly and without official permission. Had county council highways officers been involved in the planning of the works arrangements could have been made for the safe delivery of materials and perhaps even a site compound on the nearby highway.
I spoke to Ian Boyles, the Area Manager, South East for Revolution Bars Group PLC, who was in charge of the works and personally directing some of the vehicle movements. Mr Boyles told me he didn’t think permission had been given for the highway closures which had been put in place. Mr Boyles claimed the problem was only lasting for a few minutes, but it appears to have been ongoing for days.
I spoke to a County Council parking enforcement officer who was walking past. He told me he didn’t have powers to act. I think it is crazy that we pay people to patrol the city specifically to tackle parking problems, but they can’t act in respect of dangerous, obstructive, illegal parking such as that outside the Revolution Bar. We need to elect representatives who will address this problem. (If I was elected Police and Crime Commissioner I would give those PCSOs capable of exercising the powers of a constable those powers and have fully empowered officers patrolling the streets).
While I was observing some Cambridgeshire Police officers who could have acted drove past without stopping. It is astonishing that such seriously obstructive parking and an apparently illegal closure of parts of the highway in the City Centre have gone unchallenged.
I spoke to the drivers of some of the vans and one of them threatened to smash my camera.
Even when there is no obstructive parking in the area it is far from an ideal environment for cycling, or walking. Pedestrians and cyclists get in each others’ way and the pavements on the Regent Street corner, are too small for the volume of people using them. Stopping parking in the cycle lane would help, but more dramatic solutions including perhaps making Downing Street in both directions a road where cyclists get priority, and a prime road position, and motor vehicles are not allowed to overtake them might help. Elected representatives should ask their officers to present options based on the best available research on experiences elsewhere.