Wednesday 12 December 2012

Milton Road Shared Use Cycle Route - an Intentional Booby Trap

I got confirmation from Cambridgeshire County Council that the Milton Road shared use path ends at the Highworth Avenue Junction. Why does this matter, I hear you ask? Because Cambridgeshire Constabulary have taken to staking out the next junction.

Lets ignore the obvious reality that if there are fourty or so cyclists stopped by the Police for using a particular pavement then perhaps we should be asking whether that is because the road is so hostile they fear for their lives. And lets also skim past the point that FPNs can be given out for this but that guidance to the Police is that where cyclists fear for their lives they should not.

Lets just look at the Highworth Avenue junction. Here it is:

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Milton Road has a shared use facility to this point. And according to the County Council that facility ends at the roundabout and presumably cyclists should from that point use the road.

Lets have a closer look at what you see when you ride there. This is what you see when you get to Highworth Avenue if cycling from the South West along Milton Road.

So, I see a sign on the left side of the path telling me the lane continues. On the right side it says the shared use path ends. There is a give way line painted on the path across he lowered kerb, not an 'end' sign. Oh, and there is a lane painted on the road, joining up at another lowered junction at the other side.

Am I being thick or does the balance of probabilities imply here that the cycle lane continues, and that the 'end' sign refers to the fact that the lane painted across the road is no longer shared use and might be for cyclists? Yes, its ambiguous. But I'd have thought that looks like you can ride it.

Lets look at it from the other side of the road. There might be a clue there!

So, looking back, I can see the on-road lane painted across Highworth Avenue with give way signs on the traffic island. That cannot possibly be anything other than a cycle lane or a shared use lane, its not after all for cars. And oh the corner on this side I can see another 'end' sign; I must be standing on a shared use path otherwise there can't be a shared use path ending here.

In fact, according to Cambridgeshire County Council, I'm now on a pavement. And its a Police priority to deal with 'antisocial' cyclists here. Don't believe me? Look at the news story linked to near the top; they're prosecuting cyclists for being on the pavement here.

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So on the left hand side there, do you see that narrow cycle lane on the road? A little under four feet wide I should think, there it is to the left of a steady stream of traffic, much of which is about to turn left into the shops or cut straight along the cycle path on to the left turn lane to head up Arbury Road.  Its also sandwiched in between that traffic and car parking spaces - there is nowhere to ride in that lane that is not in two car-door zones. Hostile would be an under-statement - its downright dangerous. The advice of the Highway Code is to stay out of the parked car door zone and not to undertake left turning traffic - this cycle lane directs you precisely into both dangers.

So to a reasonable person it looks like there is an on-pavement shared use route there. No one would argue that its a good idea to have said facility suddenly stop when Milton Road turns nasty; who would install a cycle facility, in Cambridge (supposedly a cycling city!), a cycle route that fails you when you most need it? And then target cyclists for quite reasonably assuming that this cannot possibly be the case?

Its difficult to find any reason for this. If you want to stop cyclists riding on the pavement there then signpost it clearly; but expect that they'll continue to do so because its a route that there is simply no way around for most of those using it. There aren't suitable alternative routes. To ride on the road there is horrible even if  you're a bolshy bloke like me. I wouldn't force doing so on my worst enemy. Its terrifying. 

So. Why, Cambridgeshire County Council are you doing this? Why have you made what should be safe and simple into a booby trap? Are you seriously expecting any rational adult to believe that this is some accident, that you're not targeting cyclists here to somehow punish them out of some petty, bureaucratize need?

Why, councillors of Cambridge and Cambridgeshire councils do you believe it is acceptable to target cyclists who justifiably have no concept that it is not legal to ride there? 

Why, Cambridge Police, are you targeting cyclists who are just trying not to die? Have they actually been mowing pedestrians down there?

I await none of the above bodies answering because, as is demonstrably true from the evidence of this junction, none of them give a flying fuck for cyclists.

UPDATE: From info uneartehed here at Richard Taylors site we can see that the County Council were wrong when they told me that the facility ends at Highworth Avenue junction; it actually ends at a point more or less at random just about at the end of the roundabout. Thats a point completely unlabelled; you have to go delving into documents such as the City of Cambridge Area C (Consolidation) Order 1993 if you want to find out where it stops. Yes, thats correct, this is Beware of the Leopard level local government obfuscation you've got to get over if you want to cycle legally.

Are you reading this Cambridgeshire County Council? I doubt that. If you are, do you need me to tell you that no sane person would consider this acceptable?


  1. A insightful analysis of some poor cycling infrastructure. Unfortunately, it's mostly poor signage that'll be deemed the only thing "wrong".

    This should be used in the defence of any people cycling in this place being prosecuted by the police. Sadly, this wasn't used by David Arnold when he was recently convicted (

    Why are the police targetting so-called "pavement riding" here? Because the local area committee asked them to do so ( So, it would seem the way to get the police to concentrate on things is to go to local area committees in numbers.

    Sadly, both the County and City council work a lot slower than this.

    1. There's an idea that if people don't go to 'committees' they get whats coming to them; the reality for most of us is that with work and other commitments getting to such meetings is very difficult. Even finding out in advance where andwhen they are is quite a task.

      The Police aren't forced to target particular roads or to carry out the will of said committee in this particular way; they don't choose to target routes such as, say, Carlton Way because they don't have so many soft targets. imho this is purely about being able to say they stopped (x) many cyclists. Box ticking - very cynical of them