Thursday, 13 December 2012

Milton Road Priorities

Recently, David Arnold was given a criminal record for riding on a pavement in Cambridge. The police are targetting people cycling at the Milton Road and Arbury Road junction.

In the news article the police state that they are following priorities set by local councillors. This is indeed true as documented by Richard Taylor here showing the commentary of the North Area Committee (Cambridge) on Thursday the 27th of September 2012. Notice that the police do say they find the signage confusing. However, going back to the last part of the news article (above) a Cambridgeshire County Council spokesman said:
“Shared use footpaths are clearly marked and our advice to cyclists would be that unless the footpath is clearly signed as such they should not use it as a cycleway.”
So, I thought I'd have a look, especially as I saw Cab Davidson was also looking into it. Not that I'm trying to outdo him, more be inspired to do my thing!

First, I had a look at the Cambridge Traffic Regulation Orders specifically for area C in the Schedule 22 Dual Use Cycle Track. Look just before the end for the street listings. In this Milton Road appears quite a bit. To make it a bit easier, I've mapped it out in Google as follows.

View Milton Road Offroad Cyclelanes in a larger map

There are a couple of odd looking links just south of the road at the north-east end, but this is more to do with linking to south running routes to road crossings. The important bit is the north side route which starts at Gilbert Road (bottom left corner) and goes disjointedly up to Ramsden Road. And disjointedly is the theme. Just before Arbury Road, where suddenly there is a lot of traffic (having turned on from Elizabeth Way) the cyclepath does not exist.

Looking at this in more detail shows the short 200 metre section between the Elizabeth Way (or Highworth Avenue) and Arbury Road. The cyclepath (well "dual use cycle route") stops 50 metres from the roundabout and starts again at Arbury Road.

View Milton Road Offroad Cyclelanes in a larger map

It looks like quite a wide street area so how does it translate on the ground.

Here's a clip starting just to the west of the roundabout. Note that it is speeded up in places.

It shows the signage taking people riding round the junction. Then at the place where the TRO says the cycleroute stops, are there any signs? No. Not a single sign saying that the route has stopped and the person riding should get onto the road.

Continuing onwards, the pavement is at least as wide as the previous route, probably wider. I've started pushing my bike. Notice the incredibly dangerous and nasty, anti-social person cycling. They really looked dangerous and unpleasant (oops, should mention sarcastic commenting!). Then notice the amount of space dedicated to cars. I'm not sure of the status of this space, it could be owned by the shops behind it. Even so the pavement is still wide.

Then the delivery lorry stopped in a place that isn't big enough, so it overlaps into the on-road cyclelane, where people cycling are meant to be. Looking at the stream of traffic passing the lorry, mostly focussed on the lights ahead that'll change soon and hold cars for three phases, would anyone want to be there and have to pull out into traffic?

Again, continuing the pavement is wide. And looking up Arbury Road the pavement is wide still. Plenty of space for cars to park.

In Summary

So what is anti-social along this section of road? The person cycling we saw. I don't think so. The lorry sticking into the on-road cyclelane? I'd say that's a lot more dangerous. The whole amount of space thrown over to cars? You get 10 bikes in the space for 1 car. And people cycling spend more money than people driving (23 Feb 2012 : Column 349WH).

And as far as the signage is concerned, there's 200 metres of road without a sign between two cycleroute signs. How Cambridgeshire County Council can try to claim this is clear signage is beyond me and I suspect most people.

What Should be Done

First, stop prosecuting people here for trying to stay safe. The police need to turn round to the councillors on the North Area Committee and say how silly they currently look. They could do with sorting out anti-social behaviour, of course, but perhaps they could direct it based on evidence rather than hearsay. Where I don't doubt the heresay is based on some experience, as it's so subjective, why not evidence-based priorities on anti-social behaviour. The evidence of serious issues is strongly based around road issues as this comment from a Freedom of Information request made by Phillip Shore assesses. In fact the more in-depth analysis would suggest there is a serious issue with people cycling on the road (as victims), much less so than people cycling on the pavement.

So, why was this short section simply not included on the route in the first place? I suspect it is not to do with the size of space available for people walking (and/or people cycling).  That seems perfectly adequate in comparison to other sections. I think it's more to do with the number of cars that come across the pavement to access the space behind it. It may be hooked in with the idea that people driving pay less attention crossing pavements to people riding and thus cause more collisions. In that case, it's due to driver inattention that people riding are forced into a very hostile road environment. And this must be one of the least hospitable road environments in Cambridge due to multiple routes joining up at just this very short section.

One good idea, if it's possible with the land usage would be to move all the car space at the side of the road to the roadside. Then put cycling and walking space away from the road all along this section. That would reduce conflict of transport mode considerably.

Addendum: Kendall Way Signage Gone

Just as an addition, the short path that goes from Kendall way to the nearby road crossing is missing. Here's a picture showing it in 2008 where it didn't show up on my pass today (13/12/2012). Admittedly I'm on the other side of the road, so it's hard to see (I suggest clicking to enlarge), but it's not there, along with the tree behind it. Possibly taken out at the same time?

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