Friday 21 August 2015

Second worst cycling junction in the Country

It won't seem surprising that Cambridge, the most cycled city in the UK, is home to a junction with one of the worst accident rates for cyclists in the UK. I refer here to the Lensfield Road Roundabout, highlighted as the second 'worst' in the UK.

Obviously there are imbeciles missing the point of that news story on comments pages across the UK, and blaming cyclists for everything form Isis and global warming to the Reptilian Conspiracy - such criticism isn't just contemptible victim blame its also mud-skipper intellect trolling ofa story that isn't related to anything on their (I use the term with caution) 'minds'. Likewise, there are glib tweets along the lines of this being a statistical inevitability because there are so many cyclists in Cambridge - an equally moronic comment ignoring the fact that there are also dozens of other junctions in this City, many with more cyclists than this one, none of them making it into this 'top 10' of shameful moton carnage. You can't say 'there's bound to be a Cambridge junction in that list' without having a good answer for why, say, Castle Hill or the Catholic Church Junction aren't in the list.

Its an awful junction. Have a look at it - approaching the first of two mini-roundabouts that make up this hellish route from Trumpington Road.

Yes, in that narrow space there are hree lanes for cars there - two going forward, one going left. Nowhere specifically for cyclists. The lanes aren't really wide enough to allow a car through without risking loss of its wing mirrors to the vehicles alongside, and they're corralled in by a traffic island (not that you could use this to cross the road - there's a fence to make it clear that pedestrians are not welcome). Click forward once - you see those two forward arrows? If you want to go straight on here, you need to be out in the middle of that traffic, so unless you were keeping pace with the traffic in the middle of the road to begin with, the constant stream of motons turning left has to let you out. And that traffic is backed up as far as you can see - they're already angry, they're on their phones texting to say they're running late. Don't expect any mercy from that direction.

Lets go forward to that first roundabout now.

The roundabout isn't raised at all - motorists will jump into it without a care in the world. Very often drivers turning from straight on will stop, half way across, because a car is coming from the left - although they're unlikely to do so if you're coming that way on a bike. And even if you've managed to get into the correct lane here your chances of drivers coming from the left ceding priority as they ought to are wafer slim.

Remember we had two ridiculously narrow lanes to approach this junction if heading straight on? Well, one would think that might be simple enough, but it isn't. The right hand lane feeds in to the next roundabout to turn right on to Lensfield Road, the left hand lane on towards Trumpington Street. And the right hand lane is the one used by delivery vehicles, lorries etc. heading towards University departments like Chemistry, the Gurdon Institute, Biochemistry etc. (the New Museums Site, Downing Site, Old Addenbrokes Site etc.) while freight heading for the Grand Arcade and Lion Yard is (mostly) going straight on (except where the driver intends to rat-run down Tennis Court Road) - bluntly, these heavy vehicles do not fit in to the feeder lanes for the first roundabout and the drivers have insuffficient visibility to safely change lanes in the short distance to the next mini roundabout, thus...

So we've got two streams of traffic, often with motorists distracted by mobile phones, sat-navs and the perplexing change of road arrows from straight on to right, crossing each other with no regard to cyclists on these two roundabouts. Its car-nage writ large.

But do you want to know the real shocker? Its worse coming the other way. This is what its like from Trumpington Street:

Why, yes, that IS three lanes for cars and lorries, each narrow enough to scour the go faster stripes off a mini, and no provision for cycling. In the heart of Britain's cycling capital. There is no provision for cycling, and if you work in this part of the city there may well be no viable alternative route.

And, yes, if you're heading off down on to Fen Causeway you've got to get across those streams of traffic ideally into the right hand lane, hope that the laughably unlikely thing of motorists at the first roundabout letting you across happens, and then face just the same implausible scenario at the second roundabout.

My dear readers, I put it to you that this is not the second worst junction for cycling in the UK because its in Cambridge and there are a lot of cyclists - we have many junctions, and this is the only one we've got in the top 10. This, my friends, is one of the UK's cycle accident blackspots because it is designed with no regard to cyclist safety. It was built by motorists, for motorists. And there it is, right in the heart of the supposed cycling Nirvana that is Cambridge. And if you survive it you're now at the other end of the road to this miserable piece of shit which leveraged nigh on half a million of cycling funds for drivers, for almost no improvement for cyclists. 

The trouble with Cambridge is, fundamentally, we pretend to plan each road for cyclists, motorists and pedestrians. And then we come up with a set of priorities that at each location puts motorists first, cyclists second, and we barely consider pedestrians at all. Which means that when we're lucky we do get some half decent cycle facilities - but they're almost never good enough and nearly always an excuse to shovel cycling cash into the coffers of car-centric road designs. And when push comes to shove, cyclists can go and fuck themselves, we don't build for safe cycling if there's a perceived need to squeeze three cars in sideways instead.

Cambridgeshire County Council, hang your heads in shame. Second most cyclist accidents at a junction in the UK, at your brutally designed junction. Deal with it. Do it now.


  1. "Likewise, there are glib tweets along the lines of this being a statistical inevitability because there are so many cyclists in Cambridge"

    I don't think its glib to point out that the basis for the entire ranking ignores numbers cycling. It's as bad as the reports for Cambridge as the cycle theft capital of the UK, or any graph that shows a map of behavior that pretty much correlates with population density. It tells us nothing.

    I have no doubt that I could find 10 worse junctions for cycling in the UK, it's 'just' nobody cycles on them. In fact, I very much doubt I would have to leave Cambridgeshire to find 10 worse junctions.

    This is not at all the same thing as saying that this junction isn't dangerous and doesn't need to be changed. It does. But if you base your argument on dodgy statistics, you are undermining your own case, and ultimately hurting the chances of fixing the problem. This has already happened: people are pointing out the obvious flaws in the data rather than engaging with the fact that the junction needs to be fixed.

    Which it will be, by the way, or at least there is a current project. Whether this actually fixes it depends very much on what the proposals turn out to be.

    1. Sorry, I have to disagree with you. Its nonsense to say that this is because Cambridge is so very much a cyclist city that this junction is in the list - its only one of very many junctions in Cambridge and its the only one that makes the top ten, and its right up there I gather just one accident behind the top spot for the country. Thats way out of proportion to all of the other junctions in Cambridge.

      While you're right that there are of course junctions that would be worse to ride but on which there are few cyclist accidents because no one even tries, that doesn't in any way detract from the fact that this one is out in front for Cambridge - how many accidents are reported at the Mill Road junction? Catholic Church? The assertion that this near top position is an inevitability in such a 'cycled' city misses that entirely.

      Sadly the way the Catholic Church Junction redevelopment basically swiped nearly half a million cycling cash to give us ASL's I can't get to and a single advance red light tells me we're not likely to see cycling considered as more important here. But we can wait and see what the proposals are.

      I note that London Cycling Campaign have had a flash protest at Bank junction - will you lot at Cambridge Cycling Campaign support one for Lensfield Road junction?

  2. Fen Causeway was built in the wrong place, resulting in multiple bad junctions.

    In my view, it should be between Barton Road & Brooklands Avenue. This would sort most of the problems at Barton Road/Newnham Road and would prompt a big re-think of the Lensfield Road junction. But it will never happen.

    1. Much can be done to tame these junctions though. But I doubt, as things stand with other 'upgrades' like Catholic Church, Perne Road etc. we'll get much for cycling there. Oh, they'll spend 'cycling' cash but once again leveraged for motorists.

  3. It's just as bad coming from Fen Causeway and trying to turn right into Trumpington Rd, peering through the traffic queuing up Trumpington Rd that's turning left into Fen Causeway to see if anyone going straight on is trundling up the outside and the just as you start turning someone coming south will swing across in front of you to turn right into Fen Causeway. I don't know what the solution is; traffic lights; a single "not very-" roundabout. My favourite would be a one way system Trumpington Rd, Brooklands Av, Hills Road, Lensfield Rd; but once I get started on that its filtered permeability on Tennis Court Road, Regents St and the whole of the Panton St area and that leads to... and pretty soon I'm redesigning the M11 ( three lanes, full access junctions and proper separate cycle tracks since you ask )

    1. Thats a radical solution :)

      I dunno what the right answer is, but I'd start out by immediately reducing the three-lane entrances to two. As you say, you just can't see whats coming from the far lanes.

      I'd like to see what the road-space measurements would be if we assumed taking, say, a car lane out from the all the roads there in the run up to and between the roundabouts. I get that road capacity matters, but that has to stop trumping cyclist safety.

  4. The Lensfield Road junction may be dangerous, but I find it practicable and enjoyable to use, as you can nearly always weave your way through it quickly and legally. (I guess these two facts are connected.)

    Whereas, although it may be safer statistically, I hate the Science Park junction on Milton Road with the fire of a thousand suns, because it seems that whatever route you want to take, you have to fight your way across multiple lanes of 60 mph traffic only to end up trapped at a red light that takes five minutes to change.