Monday, 28 October 2013

Perne Road Roundabout proposal

Cambridgeshire County Council are consulting on safety improvements at Perne Road / Radegund Road roundabout in Cambridge.

The proposals can be viewed here.

Perne Road is also the A1134 Ring Road. All of the Ring Road roundabouts are statistically bad for cyclists' safety and the council want to fix this. That is not in dispute.

The proposals involve moving cyclists onto shared use paths which cross the arms of the four junctions of the roundabout where they would have to give way crossing the arms of the roundabouts.

Just off the plans, the busier north and south arms of Perne Road already have pedestrian signalled crossings about 40 metres away from the centre of the roundabout. The online proposals do not mention upgrading these to Toucan so people on bikes can legally use them.

Cyclists would have to choose using the shared use pavement for safety, or remaining on the road. Shared use is popular with cyclists when uninterrupted, but disliked for the amount of give-ways and hold ups they introduce. Vulnerable pedestrians do not like to share pavements with cyclists, and is a source of constant complaining.

The Dutch have solved many of the issues of two-tier provision, with a three tier provision in busier locations,  clearly separating pedestrians, cyclists and motor vehicles.

One of the arguments against three-tier provision in the UK and Cambridge is that it requires a lot of space, but that is not the case at this roundabout. Below I make a crude comparison of size with a roundabout from Groningen in Holland.

The following pictures are taken from Google Maps at similar zoom levels, rotated for easy comparison.

Google StreetView links:
Perne Road / Radegund Road, Cambridge.
Bakboordswal / Loefzijde, Groningen.

Perne / Radegund Roads, Cambridge

Bakboordswal, Groningen, Holland

Both images combined. Similar sized roundabouts.

I will hold my hands up and say, I do not know if the Dutch roundabout works in practice. I believe the Groningen roundabout is is what cycling campaigners want. It is a subtle change from shared use but has very clear separation. A big question is will the road markings across junction arms work in a UK context on a Ring Road? See the view of a roundabout exit (note driving on right)

My reading of Dutch design is that filtering of traffic is a big part of what they do and cannot be captured from Google Maps.  My gut feeling is that the Dutch route has far less traffic than the Cambridge Ring Road.

The two-tier proposed solution is commonly used in Cambridge and can be safer if you are prepared to stop at side roads and look very carefully but its inconvenient. I find myself unable to use safe facilities for cross city journeys - it just takes too long - and as a result I find myself switching to car or motorbike when I am not in the mood or don't have the legs for fast highly assertive riding required to keep me safe on direct routes.

I'd label shared-use with Safety through Inconvenience. If we could fit in a working Dutch roundabout we could have safety AND convenience. Solutions like this make more journeys viable by bike.

If Cambridge really wants to improve cyclist safety and traffic growth, it needs to be braver with its junction design.

Responses to the Perne Road roundabout proposals have also been made by Cambridge Cyclist and RadWagon.

Saturday, 12 October 2013

Pavement Cycling fines in Cambridge

A local newspaper has published some data from Cambridgeshire Constabulary on tickets issued to cyclists found to be Cycling on a Footway.

I have made a Freedom of Information request to get the data, but until then the only source I can find is via the newspaper.

Issuing tickets to cyclists by crackdowns and local Police priorities is common in Cambridge.  Some of those tickets will be justified but others will not.  I have previously argued that simply ticketing cyclists in Cambridge for being on the footway is not a sound strategy. Councillors should be looking to understand the root cause of footway cycling and its level of harm in a particular location.

To learn something, I have combined three datasets for a very rough correlation.

  • Cycling on Footway tickets. Three years.
  • Amount of collisions pedestrians and cyclists are involved in. Note, the majority of these will be cars colliding with pedestrians or cyclists. Three years, STATS19 data.
  • Speeding tickets, mostly from automated cameras. Unspecified amount of years in the FOI.

Footway cycling tickets vs no. of collisions affecting pedestrians or cyclists vs speeding FPNs issued.
Road & Desc Tickets Collisions
(ped or cycle)
Speeding FPNs
Arbury Road2912
Mill Rd2468
Milton Rd/Arbury Rd junction9(repeat data?)
Milton Rd7471757
Huntingdon Rd633 est350
Sidney Street, Petty Cury, Histon Road4Histon Rd=19Histon Rd=583
Magdalene Street, Round Church Street, Silver Street, Jesus Lane, Burleigh Street4
East Road, Mount Pleasant, St Andrew’s Street, Trinity Street, Union Lane 216 est
Panton Street, Parkside, Regent Street, Warkworth Terrace, Northampton Road1


  • Arbury Road - hostile rat run, riding feels like you are on a motor racing track. Start/stop shared use paths.
  • Mill Rd - congested busy, hostile road, particularly at rail bridge where cyclists are slowly ascending. Aggressive taxis.
  • Milton Rd/Arbury Rd junction - shared-use paths join here. Unclear signage led to cyclists being unfairly ticketed. Busy A road, artery into the city. Very common for follow through Red light jumping cars. Cyclists sharing pedestrian phase
  • Milton Rd - Mostly shared use with a few gaps where timid cyclists will have to move onto arterial roads.
  • Huntingdon Rd - Major artery, speeding traffic. Pinch point traffic islands. Popular quiet cycling routes cross this road via staggered routes. Tempting to cycle to nearby pedestrian crossings help get across safely, eg near Storeys Way. Illegal to cycle to?
  • Sidney Street - part of the awkward city centre one-way system.
  • Petty Cury - no excuse, clearly a pedestrian shopping zone.
  • Histon Road - frightening bus corridor with dangerous 1.0m cycle lanes.
  • Magdalene Street - scenes of conflict all round. Student rush often brings cyclists ignoring direction priority but also taxis and buses driving aggressively at cyclists.
  • Round Church Street - part of the awkward one-way system but also part of the bus routes.
  • Burleigh Street - part time cycling restrictions.
  • East Road - Can be hell for cycling. Its an inner ring road threaded though a shopping area, past Anglia Ruskin University, with some of it dual carriageway.
  • Other locations are unremarkable. Tickets here a low in number.

Tuesday, 8 October 2013

Cycling related Police priorities at the Cambridge North Area Committee.

Richard Taylor filmed the North Area Committee Meeting on October 3rd 2013.  I have attempted to summarise and partly transcribe the sections relevant to cycling.  

The Neighbour Policing is lead by Sgt Wragg and refers to a document made available prior to the meeting:

Section 5. Recommedations:
  • Prevention and enforcement work to reduce cycle theft.
  • Combat dangerous / no lights cycling as autumn / winter approaches.
  • Tackle drug dealing on the North area.

0h29m34s Police report starts, interrupted.

0h30m33s: Member of audience explains she is sight and hearing impaired tells councillors of her concerns getting navigating around the city. Starting with new on-street bicycle parking, then street clutter, including an anecdote of a specific thin path near a cafe where her problems also included pedestrians overtaking from behind and tripping over her cane due to restricted pavements, and two cycles coming towards her and her 90yr old mother.  She refers to Catholic Church and Regent Street, areas. She ends reiterating her concern is pavements littered with obstacles and street cafes.
[note: Catholic Church and Regent Street are outside of the North Area neighbourhood]

0h36m51 After other councillors respond, Cllr/chair(?)  adding to responses to audience member: This committee has, in the past, set Anti-Social cycling as a priority for the reasons you've outlined. I don't think cyclists realise how scary it can be for various groups of people to have someone on the pavement with them.

0h37m31s Sgt Wragg restarts the Police Priority section.  Starting with statistics showing cycle theft has reduced from 177 last year to 115. Two cycle thieves have been locked up.

0hr44m25s Sgt Wragg talks of working with Cllr Manning on improving conflict/complaint areas involving combinations of pedestrians/cyclists/drivers, improving junctions to make them safer for all road users. Specific example, Milton/Gilbert Roads. 

0h58m45s Film maker Richard Taylor reminds cllrs of anti-social cycling priority one year ago, causing him to report unclear and missing signs and road markings where not even Police could tell what was legal. Much nodding from Sgt Wragg. Also says he would rather see priorities based upon cost or injury, something about burglary.

1h00m06s Cllr/Chair? Comments/asks if Burglary is a still city wide priority.

1hr00m50s. Sgt Wragg: ... we remain very even handed, we've got a fair degree of discretion ... to achieve greater safety on the paths and the roads.
1hr01m35s Where he uses the phrase "walking round the corner into on-rushing cycles" I think he's saying they won't ticket in areas of confusing signage.
1h02m00s Sgt Wragg The priority of anti-social cycling was pretty much city wide at the time [1 year ago]. We had to send a strong message, we've now moved back away from that, if we have to ticket again to achieve our goal we will, we try to police in a proportionate way.

1h02m50s Female Cllr (O'Reilly?) Proportionate and reasonable to focus on cyclists without lights.

1h04m20s Sgt Wragg shares an anecdote of cyclist observed circumventing a red light, by switching from road to pavement [pedestrian crossing] forcing a pedestrian out of the way then back onto the road. "Very brazen, right in front of a Police vehicle, danger to a pedestrian, he did everything wrong. That's the sort of person who could expect to get a ticket".

1h04m57s Sgt Wragg: Cycling with no lights is a massive, massive problem this time of year and a lot of people who get hit by cyclists don't report it ... I'm aware colloquially that it does happen ... And the majority of them will be getting away with just a warning.

1h06m00s Male Cllr tells anecdote: "I stopped at a red light at the Milton/Gilbert Road junction as someone on a bicycle went straight past me, dodged the cars [going around gesture], onto the pavement presumably because she thought it safer, blatant disregard, a very clear sign red light, [others laugh] that you shouldn't be on it. I cycle backwards and forward to work everyday and I see it a lot. I gave up the car a year ago. I see a lot of bad and dangerous cycling".

1h09m52. Cllr Ward adds agreement with [3 other councillors]. Something about time of year, "educating incoming cyclists without lights and about skipping through a red light on the pavement at the same time and I think that's a reasonable and proportionate thing to do".

1h10m18s. Sgt Wragg responds: And just to add to that, we do pick up stolen bikes while we are stopping people with no lights, and sometimes drug dealers too ... its a very good way of practically policing. If you give us an excuse to stop you, expect scrutiny.

1h14m45s. Cllr Manning: "I'm not very comfortable with the 2nd one, dangerous seems a very nebulous word, hard to define. No lights is very easy to define. Why are we concentrating (coming back to Mr Taylors point) on dangerous cycling and not dangerous car driving ... The hard a dangerous driver can do is far greater than the harm a cyclist can do, that's not to say cyclists don't do harm ... if doing things proportionately ... I'm uncomfortable with the mashing up of dangerous and no-lights.
1h15m55s. A lot of the time the dedicated fascilities are not there for the cyclists, there's a shared use path or cycle path on the road but that is not a dedicated fascility for cycling ... and we've got to take that into account and if we're going to set something, lets set something we can clearly define. I do not understand why we are setting and priority of dangerous cycling and not setting a priority of dangerous driving".

1h18m52s Cllr Gerri Bird:  "And the recommendations, combat dangerous cyclists yes please, they are some of them are so ignorant they don't care who's on the pavement, they knock people over, ok sometimes cars are involved. I don't ride a bike [films shows her sitting in a wheelchair], I'd like to have a go you know just see what its like, probably fall off. But cyclists need to understand pedestrians are on them pavements, to get off their bikes and walk their bikes would be fantastic.
1h19m24s My other big problem is Parkers Piece when we have the events and we've still got cyclists on pavements with children running about, I can't understand why cyclists are allowed to use them areas when events are on. And it would be nice to see more police around there then.
[note: Parkers Piece is outside of the North Area neighbourhood]

1h19m44s Cllr Fiona Onasanya: on combatting dangerous cycling, I think its important to note that [Sgt] Jason [Wragg] said it will be reasonable, proportionate and evidence based. If those factors are taken into account I don't have major concerns with it, however I do understand that it can be a bit concerning if you just say dangerous, its quite vast and its not very specific, but if you consider it in light of the three things then I think that its actually very reasonable.

1h24m24s. Cllr Manning proposes changes two suggestion to changes to dangerous priority. 1) Changing to combat dangerous for all modes of transport. Or 2) Striking the word dangerous from combatting dangerous cycling.

1h25m44s Sgt Wragg: ... perhaps dangerous is the wrong word, a dangerous word, but the anti-social cycling, the going through red lights, lets face it I say colloquially we've all seen it all the time. I seldom see a car going through a red light ... 
Cllr? I beg to differ on red lights, the Cambridge rule 'the first one doesn't count' applies at some junctions.
[Sgt continues]
...spoken eloquently about, cycling on paths the issues that causes, students returning, we can hopefully make a difference for residents. But, dangerous is probably the wrong word to be using.

1h26m37s. Chair Introduces voting. Interrupted to take a point from Cllr Sales sitting in the audience (to avoid being filmed).

1h26m43s Mr Bond from audience. I would like to point out that dangerous applies to the cyclist themselves. I've had one off, I've very nearly had another off. [positive nodding from Cllr/Chair verbally says he agrees].

1h27m17 Voting for inclusion of the word dangerous. 14 for, 1 against (Cllr Manning).