Speaking at a public session of the Cambridgeshire Transport Commission on the 26th of March 2009 Roger Cutting, Addenbrookes’ planning and development officer, gave what I believe was the first public description of the scheme currently proposed to prevent the new Addenbrookes’ link road being being used by people wanting to access the south of the city (rather than just the hospital site) from the M11.
He described a system involving number plate reading cameras. Sets of cameras would be located on the new road, and there would be others on the city side of the Addenbrookes site. Mr Cutting explained that there would be enforcement action taken against anyone passing the second set within fifteen minutes of the first. Quite what law would be “enforced” wasn’t clear, though Mr Cutting said he didn’t envy the challenge Cambridgeshire Police will no doubt have in trying to implement the proposed scheme.
I do not know of any similar scheme elsewhere in the world; though I have been driven down Sunset Strip in Los Angeles where there is a camera system enforcing a “no cruising” law; if you pass the same check-point twice within a certain period you are fined.
I think this will be something that will be very difficult to explain to tourists and visitors to the city, and it is not clear if the scheme will catch those seeking to use the new road drop people off at the Hospital and then leave the way that they came.
On a very serious point, David Monk, the Ambulance Service manager for Cambridge said that he wanted ambulances automatically exempt from any such scheme from day one. He said it was not acceptable to introduce a system such as that for speed cameras where, following an activation, the driver needs to complete lots of paperwork, including supplying license details etc.,. Management also have to complete paperwork including getting their control room to print them off information about the call. I have personally seen Ambulances in Cambridge driving fast with blue lights and sirens slow down for speed cameras, I wondered why they did it and now I know. This is clearly unacceptable, I would like to suggest that the first person who sees a speeding ticket for an ambulance which clearly has its blue lights flashing ought be given the authority to tear it up on the spot. There should be no need for the driver to be caused any hassle.
David Monk also said he wanted ambulances to be able to use the new road from day one. Clearly it has the potential to enable Ambulances to reach the M11/A14 and many other places much more quickly from the Ambulance station on the Addenbrooke’s site. There is a need to ensure that this opportunity is taken as soon as possible.
Clearly as soon as it’s possible to get ambulances out from the ambulance station quickly onto the M11 via the new road they should be able to use it.
Earlier this year when I observed the transport AJC deciding the speed limits for this new link road there was no mention by councillors or officers about this scheme; they talked about people accessing a possible new waste site and new developments but not about big-brother technology to control usage of the road. My impression was that councillors and officers didn’t know this was proposed. Many current plans have the new road terminating the the middle of a field (on which new parts of Addenbrookes’ are to be built). There is already a small construction track connecting the existing campus road to the new road, I have no idea what the state of the connection will be when the link road opens.