Urging Councillors to Make the Remodelled Milton Road Even Safer


Saturday, July 22nd, 2017. 3:55pm

In January 2015 councillors remodelling Milton Road their top priority for spending under the Greater Cambridge City Deal investment and allocated £23.04m to the project.

Now, over two years on a “final concept” design for the remodelling is due to be put in front of a board meeting of the Greater Cambridge City Deal organisation, the Greater Cambridge Partnership on the 26th of July 2017. The plans officers are recommending the board endorse provide stretches of excellent safe cycling facilities with cyclists and pedestrians separated from motor vehicles by trees and verges however there are areas where safety concerns, particularly for cyclists and pedestrians who are particularly vulnerable road users, remain, including:

  • Cyclists are not physically protected from motor traffic inbound at the roundabout with Elizabeth Way. This is a current injury causing accident blackspot and its not clear the changes will make the situation significantly better.
  • On the approach to Mitcham’s Corner a cycle lane is proposed between car parking and a bus lane.
  • A cycle lane is proposed next to a bus lane with no significant segregation from the Elizabeth Way roundabout to Gilbert Road.
  • The connection between Milton Road and Mitcham’s Corner has not been considered.

I think the best approach would be for the board to leave open the possibility to amend the plans in light of the results of a safety audit which they are already intending to carry out as part of the planning process. The safety audit should be used to inform decisions and not just as a checkbox at the end of the process.

The full benefits of the excellent stretches of segregated cycle lanes proposed will not be realised if there are still parts of the road it is risky to ride along.

I have submitted the following public question to the board meeting on the 26th of July 2017:

“I am surprised the results of a safety assessment are not available to inform today’s decision on remodelling Milton Road. When a safety audit is carried out will it take account of risks to pedestrians and cyclists and will it be possible to amend the plans to implement any changes arising as a result of the safety audit process?

Also In relation to Milton Road could we please have clarity on :

  • which, if any, elements of the plans are fixed today and what remains up for discussion
  • who will be able to participate in and observe proposed workshops to discuss elements such as tree selection, bus stops, crossings and loading bays
  • ?”

As well as urging careful consideration of safety considerations I’ve also taken the opportunity to call for additional clarity over the decision, and next steps.

2 comments/updates on “Urging Councillors to Make the Remodelled Milton Road Even Safer

  1. Richard Taylor Article author

  2. Richard Taylor Article author

    I responded to the “Milton Road consultation 2018″, which at the time of writing had a closing date of “Monday 5 November 2018″ – shown at https://consultcambs.uk.engagementhq.com/milton-road

    I wrote:

    I would like to suggest that all unresolved comments from previous rounds of consultation continue to be taken into account; it’s not reasonable to expect people to keep making the same points every time a consultation exercise relating to the remodelling of this road is carried out.

    Connections to the Science/Business Parks and Adjacent New Development

    A key potential benefit of the proposed scheme is improved cycle and pedestrian links to Cambridge Science Park, Cambridge Business Park and the existing and proposed developments off Cowley Road, including the new Cambridge North station. Particularly given the increasing likelihood of moving the sewage works to enable even more development in that area, and the potential for further densification of Cambridge Science Park I think the decision not to include the junctions between Milton Road, the Science Park, The Business Park, the Busway and Cowley Road within the scope of the scheme should be reconsidered. The benefits of safe, segregated cycle routes are much greater if they they are continuous and take people to/from where they need to go.

    Continuous Cycleways Segregated from Motor Traffic by Trees and Verges

    The proposed long lengths of cycleway segregated from motor traffic with trees and verges are excellent; they will make cycling safer, and feel safer, enabling and encouraging more people to cycle with benefits to individuals’ health, and reductions in congestion. If well implemented the proposals will make this part of Cambridge a more pleasant place to live in, work in, and travel through.

    I would like to see cycleways segregated from motor traffic by trees and verges along the full length of Milton Road. The stretches where such segregation is not proposed should be reviewed so that it can be introduced, even if this requires slightly shorter bus lanes and in places very narrow “verges”/kerbs to provide the separation.
    The current plans show a lack of segregated cycleways on the following stretches:

    • * Mitcham’s Corner to Gilbert Road
    • * By the shops between Highworth Avenue and Arbury Road
    • * Outbound outside the car dealerships approaching the guided busway

    It would be a great shame to come so close to continuous provision, and the benefits that would bring, without achieving it. Highway space should not be allocated for residential car parking when that space could be used to make travel, particularly by vulnerable road users – cyclists and pedestrians – safer.

    I think there is value to continuing the segregation by trees and verges through junctions where is is safe to do so, eg. inbound through the Gilbert Road junction. The segregation should run all the way up to junctions, and shouldn’t start/finish before/after the junctions.

    The deviation from a straight desire line for cyclists at junctions should be minimised; if it is not the cycle provision may not be used by commuter cyclists, and others happy. Waiting times for cyclists should be minimised at junctions; cyclists’ time should not be seen as less valuable than drivers’ and national guidance on this point should be ignored if it can’t be shown to be relevant to the proposed scheme. Details of the proposed traffic light arrangements and timing are one of many elements omitted from the plans so there are no proposals to comment on at the moment.

    Where possible the new highway layout should be such that cyclists on the segregated cycle tracks can continue straight on, or turn left, where doing so does not involve coming into conflict with other traffic. There are opportunities to achieve this at each of the signalised junctions. eg. Cyclists should always be able to turn left into Union Lane when travelling towards the city on Milton Road, and cyclists travelling towards the city shouldn’t be stopped by the traffic lights at the Gilbert Road junction. Enabling cyclists to keep momentum makes cycling more attractive and can increase the range of less physically capable cyclists.

    I would like to see a right of way for cyclists over the side road junctions, and for this to be made very clear.

    Where connections between on-road advance stop boxes and segregated cycleways are provided they should both to leave, and join, the road, not just to join the advance stop box as currently proposed.

    Bus Stop Locations

    The propose floating bus stop at Fraser Road should be relocated towards the city centre, to its existing location in the vicinity of Downhams Lane; there are two key reasons for this – one is to better serve the large population living in the Woodhead Drive area, including the Cambridge University accommodation. I would like to see an assessment of the population likely to walk to Milton Road to get a bus from the Fraser Road area vs the Woodhead Drive area used to inform a decision on the bus stop location. Keeping the bus stop in the vicinity of its current location would prevent having a crossing, junction and bus stop in the same location. Too much complexity at one location will I suspect create a greater hazard than spreading out features along the road.

    I do not think the bus stop on Milton Road between Union Lane and Oak Tree Avenue has been moved far enough away from the junction to alleviate the problem of a queue of traffic behind a stopped bus clogging up the junction. There is an opportunity to use the space at the junction with Oak Tree Avenue to create a bus lay-by (or a floating bus stop) and provide access to Oak Tree Avenue via Elizabeth Way.

    I would like to see a proposal for the area in-front of the shops between Highworth Avenue and Arbury Road designed on the assumption that the landowners would co-operate with remodelling; such a scheme could then be properly discussed.

    I am concerned about the proposals to include pavements to be shared between cyclists and pedestrians as part of the plans. I think such shared use pavements should be avoided. Pedestrians, particularly elderly and infirm pedestrians often complain of being scared to use pavements which are shared by cyclists – a fall for an elderly or infirm person can have huge and lasting impacts so such fears are understandable and should be taken seriously.

    The primary cycle infrastructure should be constructed in such a way as it is practical, safe and convenient for cyclists of all ages and abilities to use. If there are areas where it is deemed that the proposed cycle infrastructure does not fulfil that criteria so “cycling on the pavement” is to be permitted that would be a failure of the remodelling.

    There is a strong case for enabling cycling “on the wrong side of the road” at least between Highworth Avenue and Asham Road, and ideally beyond – between Arbury Road and Gilbert Road. I think this should be achieved by an appropriately wide cycle track, with a lane for each direction of travel, segregated from motor vehicles by trees and verges. Permitting contraflow cycling on the “pavement” is not an acceptable solution.

    The most obvious, easiest, and least controversial, amendment to the proposed plan which would negate the need for much “cycling on the pavement” is to remove the proposed out-bound bus-lane on the approach to the junction with Elizabeth Way and use the space for a segregated contra-flow cycle lane between Highworth Avenue and Asham Road.

    Milton Road / Elizabeth Way Roundabout

    The Milton Road / Elizabeth Way roundabout is the current top accident cluster site on the road, yet it is to be retained. I think the proposed traffic lights stop lines on the exits of the roundabout would be unusual, confusing, and could pose a hazard in themselves. There is an opportunity to remove the access to Highworth Avenue (and for motor access to those properties to be via Arbury Road) this would enable the junction to be simplified and made safer, cyclists (and perhaps buses) could then pass through out-bound unimpeded at all times.

    The design of the junction should reflect the traffic pattern showing most inbound traffic turns left from Milton Road into Elizabeth Way.

    I would like to see alternative final designs produced (with/without a roundabout) with expected impacts on the flow of people, and on accidents / injuries for each to enable an informed decision to be made.

    Further Comments

    I think it is very disappointing that after four years and almost a million pounds spent on this project we’re only at the stage of making comments on some vague “preliminary” plans.

    I am concerned that the new £16m cost estimate for the project, when compared to the £23m initial budget might be indicative of a drop in the aspiration for a high quality public realm, and plans to build to last eg. with well engineered tree pits to ensure that the pavement, cycleway and roadway isn’t damaged in the future by tree roots.

    To-date it has been very hard to find out about deliberations on the remodelling of Milton Road due to the use of private, and sometimes secret, “workshops”, “stakeholder meetings” and similar. In the next stage of the development of the plans I would like to see more openness and transparency. It is a shame that this consultation is not being carried out in an open and deliberative manner.

    Connections with Mitcham’s Corner should be designed before work is carried out; to ensure that there are continuous safe cycleways and to prevent potential additional costs associated with re-doing work to make the two schemes meet.

    It it is disappointing that four years in there are so many aspects of the scheme on which comments are not yet being invited.

    I would like to see detailed proposed plans for trees, and planting (grasses, shrubs, bulbs0, along with management plans. I think it would be useful to set-out from the outset a plan for the management of avenues of trees and how it is envisaged failing trees should be replaced, and how succession planting could occur.

    The detailed design of the traffic light controlled junctions, and the proposed traffic control principles and patterns should be published. There has been a lack of planning leading to unnecessary congestion where new junctions have been installed elsewhere in Cambridge eg. Madingely Road / Eddington.

    Inbound approaching the King’s Hedges Road junction the right turn lane is on the wrong side of the proposed traffic island; this is an usual and therefore dangerous arrangement. Pedestrians crossing could look the wrong way; drivers may be confused too.

    Plans for new signage should be published and discussed, both within and around the remodelled scheme. There is an opportunity to deter people from unnecessarily using the road through signage on the A14. Clear signs and other environmental clues could be used to highlight the residential nature of the area which is often busy with cyclists and pedestrians – encouraging safe driving.

    I would like to see, as an integrated part of the remodelling, the creation of a high quality environment with artistic elements, modern and useful lighting, appropriate street furniture etc.

    Detailed safety assessments should be produced, and published. Visibility at each side-road junction should be considered and opportunities to maximise visibility should be taken.

    I also responded to the specific questions asked:

    1. Retained parking bays interspersed with trees
      Neutral (as couldn’t leave blank)

      I want to retain the short term parking for shoppers near Mitcham’s Corner. Highway space would be better used improving cycle and pedestrian safety than for long term residential parking though. These shouldn’t be considered together.

    2. Floating bus stop near Westbrook Drive (outbound)

      Support.
      A bus stop in this location is well used, it should be retained. We don’t have full details of a proposed design yet but a bus stop with a cycleway running behind it can be designed well and there is space for a top quality, safe, example here.

    3. Floating bus stop near Westbrook Drive (inbound)

      Support.
      A bus stop in this location is well used, it should be retained. We don’t have full details of a proposed design yet but a bus stop with a cycleway running behind it can be designed well and there is space for a top quality, safe, example here.

    4. Q4 omitted by the Greater Cambridge Partnership
    5. Gilbert Road junction redesign

      Oppose.

      The segregated inbound cycleway is a huge improvement; we’re awaiting details, the by-pass allowing cyclists to turn left from Gilbert Road onto Milton Road irrespective of the state of the lights is excellent. Cyclists waiting on the inbound advanced stop box should have the opportunity to easily switch to the cycleway to go around a red-light.
      The outbound cycleway should be continuously marked across the junction; it should be segregated on approach, and the opportunity to avoid the red light on turning left should be provided.
      The shared use section should be designed out.

    6. Shortening of the existing inbound bus lane between Ascham Road and Mitcham’s Corner
      Q6 Strongly support to give more space for segregated cycle provision.

    7. Landscaping area opposite Ascham Road
      Support;
      This idea could be replicated at the start of other bus lanes, where space permits, eg. opposite Woodhead Drive

      Retained pedestrian/cycle crossing near Ascham Road

      Q8 Strongly support, essential.

    8. Floating bus stop near Ascham Road (inbound)
      Support.
      If we’re going to encourage bus use we need regular bus stops. Current use levels might not support this use of road space though.

    9. Floating bus stop near Ascham Road (outbound)

      Support.
      If we’re going to encourage bus use we need regular bus stops. Current use levels might not support this use of road space though.

    10. New outbound bus lane approaching Elizabeth Way roundabout
      Strongly oppose.
      Road space better allocated to a contraflow cycle-lane primarily for the school run but also for cycle trips by others who would rather avoid crossing Milton Road

    11. Elizabeth Way roundabout redesign
      Strongly oppose.
      I would like to see the roundabout removed on safety grounds. The proposed stop lines on the exits are unusual and therefore dangerous. Shared use elements amount to a break in the cycle infrastructure, and may cause some pedestrians fear.

    12. Floating bus stop near Oak Tree Avenue (outbound)
      Neutral.
      If we’re going to encourage bus use we need regular bus stops. Current use levels might not support this use of road space though.

    13. Floating bus stop near Oak Tree Avenue (inbound)
      Oppose
      Still too close to the junction, so a stopped bus will cause a queue which blocks the junction – move further towards the city – perhaps into the Oak Tree Avenue junction (and access Oak Tree Avenue from Elizabeth Way).

    14. Arbury Road junction redesign
      Neutral.
      Lots of tweaks possible, eg. remove shared space, need clear opportunities for cyclists to avoid red lights and turn left where possible. Good that cycle lanes don’t deviate much from a straight line

    15. Floating bus stop near Birch Close (outbound)
      Neutral
      Doesn’t appear to be serving a large number of homes or other demand.

    16. Floating bus stop near Birch Close (inbound)
      Neutral
      Might not be needed if Downhams Lane stop moved closer.

    17. Retain inbound bus lane approaching Arbury Road junction
      Support
      There’s space and key for bus flow.

    18. Floating bus stop near Fraser Road (outbound)
      Neutral –
      Might be better moved away from the junction.

    19. Floating bus stop near Fraser Road (inbound)
      Strongly oppose –
      Would better serve a bigger population if further inbound, and would be safer away from the junction.

    20. Landscaping area at Woodhead Drive
      Support.

    21. Retained pedestrian/cycle crossing near Woodhead Drive
      Support

    22. Floating bus stop near Kendal Way (outbound)
      Support

    23. Floating bus stop near Kendal Way (inbound)
      Support

    24. New outbound bus lane approaching Kings Hedges Road junction
      Neutral –
      No harm as there’s lots of space here. Left turn lane could be extended a little to improve general traffic flow.

    25. Kings Hedges Road junction redesign
      Oppose –
      Needs tweaks – eg. keeping cycle lanes on the desire line.

    26. Floating bus stop near Lovell Road (inbound)

      Neutral.
      Well used. Good to have it moved away from the King’s Hedges’ road junction for traffic flow, but at a cost to convenience to some users.

    27. Retained pedestrian/cycle crossing near Lovell Road
      The plan is to move it a little. Support retaining it.

    Further Questions:

    3. How far do you support the design of the new segregated cycleways and Copenhagen style priority crossings for cyclists at sideroads in the Milton Road scheme?

    Strongly support priority for cyclists over side roads and making that priority as clear as possible. Implementation details are key. Cycleway should be level. Clear signage and lines needed.

    4. As part of the plans for Milton Road, a new avenue of semi-mature trees will be planted. It is proposed that the wider section of Milton Road between the Guided Busway intersection and Arbury Road will be planted with larger growing species such as Limes and Tulip trees. The narrower section between Arbury Road and Mitchams Corner will include smaller growing species such as Flowering Cherry, Flowering Pear, and Birch. How far do you support this concept for tree planting on Milton Road.

    Neutral.
    I strongly support an avenue of trees; this basic idea appears reasonable subject to a good tree management strategy.

    Need well engineered tree pits.

    Key to avoid dropping even ornamental fruit on the pavement/cycleway.

    Would you prefer the pavement on the outbound side of Milton Road between Ascham Road and Ramsden Square to be designated as shared use (for cyclists and pedestrians) or for pedestrians only? A shared use path would enable people (including school children) to cycle inbound without having to cross Milton Road.

    Pedestrian only.
    The primary cycle infrastructure should be constructed in such a way as it is practical, safe and convenient for cyclists of all ages and abilities to use. If there are areas where it is deemed that the proposed cycle infrastructure does not fulfil that criteria so “cycling on the pavement” is to be permitted that would be a failure of the remodelling.

    How far do you support the implementation of a Traffic Regulation Order to prevent parking on grass verges along the length of Milton Road?

    No opinion.
    From my own observation most damage is done by major deliveries during building works, not day to day parking.

    How far do you support the possibility of time-limited loading and unloading within the bus lanes on Milton Road during off-peak times, generally to cater for deliveries and business use?

    No opinion.
    Deliveries have to be catered for.
    Delivery bays, perhaps using strengthened grass might be preferable.
    Is time limited delivery practical for couriers – are they set up to deal with it?
    On days with A14 problems, there can be congestion at any time of the day.
    Could add complexity and confusion to the scheme.

    Would you prefer a new crossing point at 4A or 4B?
    Pedestrian/cycle crossing near Westbrook Drive (option 4A)Pedestrian/cycle crossing on southern arm of Gilbert Road (option 4B)

    My preference is : Both
    I can’t see how you could not have a crossing at the junction and there is demand for one near Westbrook Drive due to the population living and working off that road.

    9 Would you prefer a new crossing point at 19A or 19B?
    Pedestrian/cycle crossing near Downhams Lane (option 19A)Pedestrian/cycle crossing near Fraser Road (option 19B)

    Q9 I’m not convinced either is required. Downhams Lane is I think a safer location.

    10. We have a duty to ensure that our work promotes equality and does not discriminate or disproportionately affect or impact people or groups with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010. Please comment if you feel any of the proposals would either positively or negatively affect or impact on any such person/s or group/s.

    Older and more infirm people are likely to be most impacted by fear from using pavements shared between cyclists and pedestrians; the plans involve constructing a large amount of shared use pavements.

    The design of all elements, but especially the floating bus stops, needs to ensure they can easily be understood and used safely by all.

    Improved cycle safety can be expected to help more people cycle, making getting around easier and safer in particular for younger, and older, and disabled, people who may experience greater freedom to travel around the local area, and the city, as a result. A well designed scheme could result in more children being allowed to travel alone to school.

    If you do, how do you usually travel in the area? Please tick all that apply.

    Car driver
    Car passenger
    Bicycle
    On foot

    Please indicate your age range:

    Prefer not to say

    15. Are you:

    Prefer not to say

    Do you have a disability which influences the way you travel?

    Prefer not to say

    How did you hear about this consultation?

    Other

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