Sam Davies

The same process …again

The GCP have blessed us this week with two consultations of local interest which it’s important for you to scrutinise.

Addenbrooke’s roundabout

The first is a partial redesign of Addenbrooke’s roundabout, with a particular focus on the Fendon Road arrangements. This was obviously triggered by the tragic death of cyclist Anna Garratt-Quinton in October 2021 and hence is not something to be petty or facetious about.

You can see the full design here. My take is that it seems that the plans have been drawn up with the primary goal of getting cyclists onto the Biomedical Campus so I would encourage residents to think about the impact of the proposed changes on your own journeys.

For example, cyclists coming south from town and wishing to continue south on the carriageway aren’t offered any more protection; in fact, the new design steers them strongly onto a new segregated cycleway into Fendon Road then and down to the signalled crossing which is a good 40m away from the direct route. They would then presumably be expected to cycle back up the other side of Fendon Road to turn left and continue their journey along Hills Road.

I estimate this indirect routing would add a good three or four minutes to their journey time unless the signals at the crossing are made much more responsive. However cyclists who wish to continue using the carriageway to avoid this delay will still be mixing with the traffic on the roundabout, and may be put under pressure by the type of motorist who believes that all cyclists should be using cycle infrastructure, no matter how inconvenient or badly designed it is.

So please do check out the implications of this redesign for your own journeys and let the GCP know. I know that residents living on Fendon Road will also want to comment on the loss of the trees and the potential access issues for their own properties. There is an online consultation event on 29th June; details are in the link above.

But beyond the details of this scheme, there is also a wider point to be made. As residents in the vicinity will remember with great clarity, the roundabout was last redesigned and relaid, with vast disruption including repeated noisy overnight working, in the summer of 2017. As local resident Chris Rand reported in the run-up to that episode, consultation with (never mind actually listening to!) residents and CamCycle was sorely lacking – including their concerns about cyclists’ safety given the removal of dedicated cycle lanes on the roundabout.

Now, just six years later, we are going through the same damned process again. I do hope we can get to a better outcome this time.

Hills Road Cycling Plus ‘corridor’

The “Hills Road Cycling Plus ‘corridor’ from Cherry Hinton Road to Lensfield Road” is a much bigger project, further in towards the city. There are detailed plans for two options, and there are three consultation events, including one at Cambridge Junction on 5th July.

I’m not going to attempt to unpick the detail here, beyond saying that:

  1. Option A is less disruptive (though still pretty substantial). Option B represents a huge remodelling;
  2. The Options are not discrete packages, i.e. specific elements from one Option could be incorporated into the other if consultation feedback indicated that was desired;
  3. There are of the order of 50 detailed interventions in each of the Options, so perhaps the comparison document is the most useful place to start, as it summarises the underlying approaches to both Options.

Again, I would encourage residents to mentally ‘fly through’ the routes that matter to them to see the implications of the proposed changes and identify any problems. For example, one cycle route I take quite frequently involves a right-hand turn into Brookgate at the Hills Road/Brooklands Ave junction to get to the railway station. Under Option B, the supposedly more cycle-friendly option, that routing actually becomes much less safe because the cycle lane has been moved to the left-hand side of the inbound carriageway:

I’ve already made officers aware of this problem, but there will be many other examples like this, so please do look out for the ones that matter to you and provide feedback.

There is also one major aspect of Option B which I find frankly inexplicable. The GCP, the same organisation which has been telling us for months that buses should form the backbone of movement round the city, is suggesting that it removes the 300m of inbound bus lane between Bateman Street and Union Road (item 6B). At the moment the road layout means this is one of the key places in the city centre where buses can actually progress past queueing vehicles at peak times:

The justification for this change is in order to make space for a widened cycle lane. I’m sure bus users will be very interested to hear what the modelling shows about the implications of this for bus transit times.

Conclusion: wouldn’t it be great if…?

I write a lot about lack of joined up governance and how our democratic structures are failing to connect at the neighbourhood level, with the ambiguous status and purpose of South Area Committee being indicative of that. The GCP launched the Hills Road consultation on 12 June, the same day as the most recent South Area Committee. The Addenbrooke’s roundabout consultation launched two days later.

There was no discussion of either of these schemes at SAC. Councillors had been briefed on the Hills Road project on 5th June, but there was no mention even there of the timing of the Addenbrooke’s roundabout launch. Wouldn’t it be great if the GCP actually worked with our local democratic structures, adding to their relevance and helping join the dots for residents? Radical thought, I know.

Sam Davies

14 comments

  • It is frustrating that the main consultation doc seems completely lacking in analysis on the impact on throughput of the roundabout — how many crossings by predestinarians, cyclists, motor vehicles, will be possible between each “arm” of the roundabout before and after the change. Without that, it is unclear what trade offs and choices are being made here. Perhaps I am just not clicking on the right links!

  • What do other cllrs think? Have they merely lost the will to live, given GCP will do what GCP ( or its shadowy backers) wants to do?

  • The stretch of Hills Rd which has shops, restaurant and a pub along it will lose all possibility of deliveries on Hills Rd itself.
    Instead, loading bays will be created at the ends of Glisson Rd (no entry from Hills Rd, Norwich st (no entry from Hills Rd), St Paul’s Rd and Harvey Rd.

    Are delivery lorries going to be forced down residential streets, past schools, or is it proposed to make Norwich St and Glisson now accessible from Hills Rd?

    More egregious, though, is the fact that there’s a live planning application for the Betjeman House site, the proposal drawings for which differ in respect of placement of a new toucan crossing and ‘floating’ bus stop outside the Centennial Hotel to those shown in the consultation docs provided by the GCP.

    Socius/Railpen/Pace and the GCP really need to sit down and sort out who is proposing what, and where…………..

  • The Fendon Road roundabout consultation started off with something like ‘Do you want a safer roundabout’. Various technical objections were made by local people that were based on evidence from Holland. This was passed to local Councillors who naturally consulted the experts who had designed the roundabout. Surprise, surprise, the unfavourable evidence was denigrated. The surveyors doing the costing had overlooked too many details and and the bill escalated from around £800,000 to over £2 million. I am told that the average number of accidents per year at the Fendon Roundabout remains low but has actually increased. Residents who suggested that the simplest thing to do was to reduce the speed limit to 20 mph were told at the time that such a reduction was not possible. Would not a speed limit be worth trying at the Addenbrookes roundabout and its approaches and so avoid the horrendous cost and delays for so many residents.

  • Looking at the full plan for the re-jig of Addenbrooke’s roundabout and its approaches, I can see no alteration planned to widen the carriageway on Babraham Road approaching the roundabout. The existing two lanes in this direction are only wide enough for cars. If the narrow “grass verge” were removed, buses inward bound for Addenbrookes Bus Station (routes 13, 13A, X13, P&R, 25, 31) would then stand a good chance of avoiding queuing traffic aiming for Hills Road, Fendon Road, and have an easier turn left into the bus station.

  • These are just a few of the projects that GCP has going on in our city, and of course we have the EW rail consultation going on as well as the GCP congestion charge /STZ plans. I feel that I am regularly spending more time on GCP matters than my official city council portfolios and only just keeping up with the volume. My two new Green city colleagues both ended up giving their first council speeches at the GCP assembly not their own council -and spoke on different GCP projects.

  • It looks like they are reducing the lanes at the Fendon Rd junction with Hills Rd hence making the road even more congested. The council seem to be causing a problem in order to “fix” it, just like on Nightingale Ave & East Rd. The provision is perfectly adequate as it is. The air quality is already terrible so why make more vehicles idle on Fendon Rd? Madness.

  • Respectfully, and acknowledging that certain specific parts of the city may experience pollutant levels higher, at certain times, than those across the city as a whole, the council’s latest Air Quality Status Report doesn’t back up your assertion.

    See page 31 specifically:

    https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/media/11277/air-quality-annual-status-report-2022.pdf&ved=2ahUKEwjlsN3J_M3_AhWORsAKHfAFAvoQFnoECAwQBg&usg=AOvVaw36gw3njsowg0uStSf00z-Y

    I’m always happy to concede I may be mistaken, so please do share any air quality data sources I may not be aware of.

  • Re Addenbrookes roundabout – I travel out of town daily on bike from Hills rd onto Babraham rd. At the moment I have have to proactively move into the main fwd lane to avoid cars turning left into Fendon rd (already quite stressfull – but at least the light is usually red and I can use the cycle safety box to move into the right position). I agree that this is more dangerous for this route as most cyclists will not take the Fendon rd route especially when you are likely to wait 1 min in the rain at the lights! This will cause more conflict, as you say, with motorists taking great pleasure telling cyclists to use those expensive cycle lanes. I have already fed this back. I am not an expert, but just painting a red cycle route would at least minimize this potential road rage point

  • I am always frustrated that non of the plans show the driveways to the properties on Fendon Road – they should be shown to give a full picture of all the traffic movements on to and off the road near the roundabout.

    I also suspect people won’t use the cycle lane into Fendon Road to detour away from Hills Road, this has been seen by the new cycle lanes at the Perne Road/Radegund Road roundabout and to some degree at Fendon Road/Mowbray Roadwhich where cyclists continue to use the same lanes as the cars.
    The people designing these schemes really don’t think about how they will work in reality.
    I’ve made a note of the June 29th date, but please keep us posted of when and where we can go in person (not an online event) to comment on these designs.

  • Re: The Fendon Road Roundabout.
    I followed the link but couldn’t find any reference to the online consulatation.
    Instead I completed an online survey.
    The consultation closes at noon on 24th July – not the 29th.
    I really doubt many people will complete the survey.
    I didn’t even know about this until I read your newsletter – so thank you for reporting on it.

  • As well as Council organisations working together more, it would be useful if utilities and others could co-ordinate their work. Recently Fendon Road was closed for some pothole repairs. Now it is poroposed that the road is shut to install a new electricity feeder. If the roundabout changes go ahead, Fendon Road will be closed again.