Tuesday 4 November 2014

'Improvements' in Kings Hedges and Arbury - Part 2.

In my last post, I criticised plans for pedestrian and cyclist 'improvements' in North Cambridge.

And I promised ideas for how to make it better.

Lets begin by looking at where the whole scheme (arguably) has its way in to this part of the City - the Mere Way/Arbury Road junction.

View Larger Map

So its a big, wide approach route. And I'm proposing that we should punch straight over the grass verge opposite on to the quiet Nicholson Way route.

Pan left and you'll see a little used cycle route - little used because it goes nowhere. Click forward once, then look to your left and you'll see why, the cycle lane turns sharply across Arbury Road with no real incentive for cars to stop. It becomes, quite literally, a cycle lane that goes across the main road with no signals, no information for motorists to know what it is, no waning... Its  meaningless, mostly ignored facility which motorists might or might not stop for. It leads you to a churned up path that is in dire need of routine maintenance, passing along the North of Hanson Court.

Now, pan right and look Southwards down Arbury Road - you'll see around 40 yards further on a turn off to the left which takes you to a handy cut through to Roxburgh Road if you're a cyclist. This is the route used by many cyclists going to and from the Science Park, and it could be part of a truly excellent set of facilities for riding in the North of Cambridge.

You'll also notice a quiet back-road running parallel to Arbury Road. So why not, if we're looking to improve things for cycling here, provide a safe cycle cut through linking that road directly to the junction? If the plan is to create a better route for cycling and walking, then cut straight from the back-road to the junction, which may be replaced with a raised junction anyway, linking the existing (useless) cycle facility to it by a continuous cycle lane in a new design requiring traffic Southbound on Arbury Road to give way to traffic from Mere Way? Give priority to the Arbury Road/Mere Way route (which also benefits bus riders, this being the route of the Citi 1) while proving a cut-through to a quiet road on which cyclists could turn right to get to the Roxburgh Road route or Left to get to the proposed improvements on the Rec' ground.

Much of the plan seemed to be about getting people to St. Laurence School. Having made a safe point to get to the quiet route parallel to Arbury Road, all we now need to do would be to sort out the muddle on the other side of Arbury Road - here, this is what you'll see if you've crossed over Arbury Road and you're now riding North towards the school.

View Larger Map

For some reason rather than having a simple, single surface to ride on we've got to zig-zag on needlessly narrow (arguably) shared use, before ending up at this junction...

View Larger Map

So now to get to Ashvale, a quiet suburban route taking me directly to the school and which is a natural route to take from the end of Nicholson Way/Hanson Court, I need to go round a blind corner at the garages, zig-zag a railing and drop off the kerb into traffic that probably hasn't even indicated at another mini-roundabout? No, no, no - connect this corner up with an off-road cycle route that links here (Albemarle Way) with Nicholson Way/Hanson Court and now we've linked the School with Arbury Road, and linked the North/South route to the Science Park too.

At the end of Ashvale there's plenty of room to build wide, fully segregated pedestrian and cycle routes both to the school and all the way back to Arbury Road - coming out more or less where the cycle route currently does. This would connect to the recreation ground (as in the original plans). And unlike the original plan, this gives us a safe, simple, easy route to navigate that avoids Arbury Road and provides the kind of quiet infrastructure parents are looking for to get to the school, while also assisting fast, adult commuters connecting to the Science Park or to the City Centre from further up Arbury Road, or from the South.

Turning North from there we've got a rather needless layby and bland, featureless stretch of hedgerow - get rid of them and extend the cycle route all the way to the shared use facility that comes round the corner from Kings Hedges Road. It isn't a great shared use route (none of them are) but it may as well connect.

Frankly, I'm ambiguous about the St. Albans Road junction. I approve of changing the priority there as is proposed, but I think we're kidding ourselves if we say thats for cyclists or pedestrians - its to tame motorists, and that should never come out of funds that are, allegedly, for active transport.

By my reckining, we lose three parking spaces in my proposed solution - two on Nicholson Way and one at the end of Ashvale.

Lastly, re-surfacing the paths around the recreation ground behind the school is common maintenance work. It is disingenuous of the County Council to say that this is an improvement, it blatantly isn't. By all means, re-surface this route, but not from developer funds earmarked for improvements. For once, can't we have maintenance money to maintain and spend improvement money on improvements? 

No comments:

Post a Comment