Camcycle, the cycle campaign group for Cambridge and the surrounding area, has called on Cambridgeshire County Council to stop rolling out temporary cycle lanes which it says provide make the roads more dangerous for people on bikes and encourage close passes by motorists.
Describing the pop-up infrastructure on Milton High Street and Girton Road in Cambridge as “tokenistic,” the group is urging the council to consult with its own cycling officers as well as with Camcycle itself before any further temporary bike lanes are introduced.
It says that involving campaigners and council cycling officers in the development of emergency infrastructure would “ensure that improvements are correctly designed to be safe for all users and achieve the goals of reducing car journeys and creating healthy streets as we emerge from lockdown.”
The cycle lanes in question have no physical barriers separating cyclists from motor traffic, and are delineated by broken white lines, making them what are termed ‘advisory cycle lanes’.
That means that unlike ‘mandatory cycle lanes’ which are separated from the main carriageway by a solid white line, which motorists must not drive or park in, vehicles are allowed can be driven or parked in them but only when “unavoidable,” according to the Highway Code.
Camcycle points out that the cycle lanes deviate from the government’s own statutory guidance for emergency infrastructure, which was published on 9 May and says:
Facilities should be segregated as far as possible, i.e. with physical measures separating cyclists and other traffic. Lanes indicated by road markings only are very unlikely to be sufficient to deliver the level of change needed, especially in the longer term.
The campaign group adds that “Narrow advisory painted lanes, such as those added in Milton and Girton offer no protection from motor traffic and are potentially more unsafe than no lanes at all, encouraging drivers to treat the cycle lane marking as the edge of the carriageway and pass dangerously close to riders. The new lanes are also beginning to be blocked by parked cars.”
In a letter to the county council, Camcycle has requested that work be stopped on measures which do not comply with government standards, which it says “will need to be undone at unnecessary cost.”
Instead it says the council should concentrate on creating a temporary network of cycle lanes on key corridors within the city, drawing on the expertise of both campaigners and its own in-house staff.
It points to schemes such as one introduced in Leicester which uses so-called Rhino barriers to provide physical segregation, with similar initiatives under way in cities including Manchester and London – the one in the image below is King Street in Hammersmith – as an example to follow.
Camcycle executive director, Roxanne De Beaux, commented: “Suggestions gathered from Camcycle members, supporters and our partners across the region as part of our Spaces to Breathe campaign helped the county council draft their original list of options for temporary schemes, but to date we are not clear on what progress the county has made with our ideas.
“We call on them to continue to collaborate as they begin to install experimental measures. The county’s own cycling officers have already completed significant work on the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan which would make an excellent start for identifying corridors that should be prioritised.
“It’s vital that we move forward with the most critical and cost-effective initiatives and avoid wasting further time and money on unsafe narrow cycle lanes,” she added.
Simon has been news editor at road.cc since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.