— Richard Taylor (@RTaylorUK) September 19, 2017
On Tuesday the 19th of September 2017 the Greater Cambridge Partnership, the organisation responsible for allocating the City Deal investment in Cambridge held a private workshop event on bus stops and crossings for Milton Road.
Milton Road is being remodelled in a £23m scheme.
The most concerning point to me was that Milton Road Primary School appeared still to be lobbying for shared use paths, particularly around bus stops; rather than separating cyclists and pedestrians. I wasn’t on the same workshop table as the Milton Road Primary School representative so do not know their reasoning. I have expressed concern about the way the school is lobbying via private events, and if what its representative is saying in private is endorsed by the school, the county council, the staff, the parents and pupils.
I understand the desire for two way cycling on the side of Milton Road nearest the school enabling children to get to school without crossing the main road, but that can be provided for with the cycle path segregated from both pedestrians and motor traffic. The cycle path can be segregated from motor traffic with trees and verges to make it an attractive and safe option.
In addition I think younger children should be able to cycle to school on the pavement and we should review and formalise the ministerial direction to the police on enforcement against children cycling on the pavement.
I hope councillors, and other members of the City Deal board don’t give too much weight to the purported views of the school, certainly not without checking the degree of support they have and the rationale behind them.
The Greater Cambridge Partnership filmed the presentation, and feedback elements of the workshop but have not, at the time of writing, published the video on their YouTube channel. The Greater Cambridge Partnership have published the slides shown at the event, the slides contain low resolution images of some of the bus stop and crossing plans presented at the event. A ban on invitees photographing the consultation materials, or anything else, filming and recording was in-place for this event but was overturned following the unanimous disapproval of South Cambridgeshire District Council.
Some designs showed only 10cm of pavement in-front of a bus shelter; the plans didn’t specify a particular bus shelter design and concerns were raised that if the shelter had solid ends there would be too little space for anyone, never mind people with push-chairs, or wheelchairs, to get past.
One of the most surprising things about the workshop was it was not informed by the public consultation responses. It appears no-one has read the public consultation responses and extracted the comments on the basis of themes (eg. bus stops) or by geographic area of the road.
Those at the workshop were not provided key information to enable informed comment on the various proposals in-front of them; for example there was no information on the benefit to traffic flow and bus journey times of having full or partial lay-bys at bus stops.
No information on the expected impacts of various bus stop designs on injuries and deaths was provided.
Only 25 people were invited to the workshop, meaning many local councillors were not able to attend. None of my King’s Hedges city councillors were present. I obtained an invitation after taking up an opportunity to sign up for the workshops after a public meeting of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Milton Road “Local Liaison Forum” on the 12th of September 2017.
One of the key points of discussion was if there should be a marked crossing point for pedestrians to cross the cycle way as it passes through a bus stop, and if cyclists should be required to give way to pedestrians.
As design decisions on bus stops have recently been made on Huntingdon Road, Hills Road, and in the new Eddington district of Cambridge it was surprising there was no information provided on those installations, why certain designs were chosen there, and how they have been performing. There appears to be no local design guide and every bus stop appears to be designed from scratch.
My view is that marking a crossing point, either with a raised surface, bollardry, or even zebra stripes is appropriate to give wary and vulnerable pedestrians the opportunity to cross more safely. I don’t think a zebra crossing of a cycle way would often impede the progress of cyclists, but I could see it being of use either as a bus is disgorging its passengers, or an elderly person, for example, wanted to stop cyclists in order to cross at a marked point, when it would be appropriate for cyclists to stop.
While each table generally managed to reach consensus (with the notable exception of Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s Matthew Danish disagreeing with the others on his table, who I believe included the representative of the Milton Road Primary School) there was no general agreement in the room as a whole over designs for crossings and bus stops.
The importance of keeping any advertising, and trees, out of safety critical sight lines was discussed, and the option of having a shelter design which was anchored next to the property line with a roof flying over the pavement, cycleway, and a floating bus stop island to enable the provision of a smaller island was talked about.
In my contributions to the discussion I suggested an aim should be to reduce conflict between road users, noting the concerns of particularly elderly people, about cyclists cycling in the same place as they are walking; and about the importance of actually minimising deaths and injuries.
I suggested using the road space which could be obtained from closing junctions, say with Oak Tree Avenue (opening the access onto Elizabeth Way), or Woodhead Drive and using that space to allow buses to pull off the road.
Cllr Scutt expressed concern about the objections to floating bus stops, and suggested they need a new name, to help sell them.
A number of the plans presented had problems such as bus stops which would have people waiting, or getting off a bus, on grass verges. The Greater Cambridge Partnership staff and their consultants said they were just indicative plans but the Chief Executive of Stagecoach, Andy Campbell, who was present ensured he made clear his passengers ought to get on and off buses to/from a hard surface.
Mr Campbell was also concerned about space for buses to turn at the Milton Road, Gilbert Road, junction.
When it came to crossings again there was no information on the expected impact of more crossings on traffic flows. Traffic flow not only being a journey time consideration, but people don’t want to live next to queues of stationary traffic. There was a lot of support for synchronised traffic lights to try and keep the traffic moving.
Lots of crossings are proposed for the newly remodelled road, there were problems with some arrangements of bus stops and crossings, eg. having a bus stop right before a crossing which would be dangerous if traffic was overtaking a stopped bus right on a crossing. It appears that the one contentious place for a crossing is at Herbert Street; the question being is one needed given the retention of the crossing at Chesterton Hall Crescent and proposals to make crossing for pedestrians easier and safer at the Gilbert Road junction. Officers suggested a decision had been made that all crossings on the remodelled road should be traffic light controlled rather than zebras.
The connection of Milton Road to Chesterton Road (where there is currently a very busy zebra crossing) was not discussed and, I think, considered outside the scope of the event.
Some of the proposed designs had a break in the marked cycle way before and after bus stops; I and others suggested the route of the cycle way should be clear, and unbroken.
The workshops were professionally facilitated, which probably won’t have been cheap. The chief facilitator introduced himself as “Steve Bax”, and was rather mocking as I wrote his name down.
Those present were not told who all the other attendees were, and were only introduced to those who were on their table. On a table with me were Nick Flynn, a resident and bus user; Andy Campbell the Chief Executive of Stagecoach East, Cllr Scutt, introduced as a “Local Liaison Forum member”, Maureen Mace, introduced as being of the Milton Road Residents’ Association and Lilian Rundblad of the Histon Road Residents Association.
I noticed that there appeared to be invitees who I had not spotted at the public meeting of the Greater Cambridge Partnership Milton Road “Local Liaison Forum” on the 12th of September 2017.
I spotted Cllrs Richards, Meschini, Scutt at the workshop, and Cllr Ian Manning arrived at it late.
To enable further informed discussion I will make a freedom of information request for all the bus stop and crossing options presented at the event for discussion.
- New Milton Road Trees – another workshop event.