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New £24 million road upgrade to be altered over fears cyclists might hit pedestrians on "too narrow and dangerous" footpath

The route features a segregated cycle lane and other upgrades, but leaves the pavement as narrow as 90cm wide in some places

A road upgrade project in Cambridge which cost £24 million is to be reworked after users of the route pointed out how narrow the pavement is in places, raising concerns about access for disabled people and risk of collisions involving cyclists using the adjacent cycle lane.

The project undertaken by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) — an organisation which includes the city and county council, as well as other bodies — saw the road redesigned, with a segregated cycle lane and bus lanes installed, the partnership says to offer "improved walking and cycling infrastructure to enhance public transport and active travel journeys".

However, project manager Tom Porter has admitted to the BBC that the pavement is "too tight" at some points and said "we're going to rectify it". 

Milton Road Cambridge (Councillor Delowar Hossain/Facebook)

[Councillor Delowar Hossain]

The scheme's issues were highlighted by locals who pointed out the placing of lampposts on the already narrow footpath, plus other skinny sections, makes the route dangerous for pedestrians, with particular concerns that users could be hit by cyclists using the cycle lane that runs next to it.

In places the footway is just 90cm wide, Conservative councillor Delowar Hossain calling the path "too narrow and dangerous" and accusing the partnership of wasting money.

"They showed pictures before of the street and the reality is, it's not the same. Telegraph poles are in the middle of the footpath. Whoever designed this didn't do the work properly," he said, referring to the artist's impression of what the scheme could look like [below].

Milton Road (Greater Cambridge Partnership)

The chief executive of "everyday walking charity" Living Streets too has criticised the lack of consideration for pedestrians, particularly those with mobility issues or young children.

"It is vital that people walking or wheeling have enough space to do so safely – we want to see paths at least 1.5-2m wide. This allows for wheelchairs or buggies to pass safely," Stephen Edwards said.

"It is important to ensure that people walking have adequate safe space, free of clutter, and aren't forced to put themselves into the potentially dangerous way of oncoming cyclists."

Milton Road Cambridge (Councillor Delowar Hossain/Facebook)

[Councillor Delowar Hossain]

Those sentiments were echoed by local resident Paul Raeburn who said the "obstacles" and "street furniture" make things difficult for the elderly and those using mobility aids.

And while the project's manager Mr Porter says it is "just not a feasible prospect" to move utility boxes "for the sake of a couple of hundred metres", he did accept that the central kerb would be moved slightly to accommodate the changes.

"We are aware that this section is too tight and we're going to rectify it," he said, with the worst-offending obstructive street furniture already being moved. He insisted the scheme was designed within the "constraints of the highway and the highway boundary" but accepted some items were "particularly obstructive".

Dan is the road.cc news editor and has spent the past four years writing stories and features, as well as (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. Having previously written about nearly every other sport under the sun for the Express, and the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for the Non-League Paper, Dan joined road.cc in 2020. Come the weekend you'll find him labouring up a hill, probably with a mouth full of jelly babies, or making a bonk-induced trip to a south of England petrol station... in search of more jelly babies.

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18 comments

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bensynnock | 9 months ago
0 likes

You can guarantee that pedestrians will ignore the red paint and treat the whole thing as a footpath. The idea that painting the pavement red makes a cycle path should be jettisoned. What with all the driveways and sideroads it might even be safer riding on the road, which is what I'd be doing.

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belugabob | 9 months ago
2 likes

Whenever there's a Grand Designs episode which features a listed building, the developers have to make sure that they comply with best practices, as set out by English Heritage (or some other organisation)
Why is this not the case with road/cycling/walking infrastructure - some kind of best practices enforcement body, that's independent and has the appropriate authority?

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ktache replied to belugabob | 9 months ago
0 likes

But where would you go to, in this country, for a very good example of "best practice".

 

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chrisonabike replied to belugabob | 9 months ago
0 likes

belugabob wrote:

Why is this not the case with road/cycling/walking infrastructure - some kind of best practices enforcement body, that's independent and has the appropriate authority?

In theory this would be just one body, right?  Is it in part a question of money e.g. where budgets are managed?  It's somewhat like that for the roads but even then there is Highways England National Highways (who are responsible for standards IIRC) but the local authorities get some responsibilities e.g. councils, TfL ... We do now have Active Travel England but given how funding has already been cut and the current "flirting with the trolls and conspiracists" trend of the Government (setting the tone that other parties seem happy to follow) I wonder...

Not a civil engineer but for road infrastructure there are (pretty) hard and fast rules for the roads.  For pedestrian infra as part of that there may be some rules.  If you produce something incompetent or non-standard I suspect you would never get it funded and would end up in court if you did, especially if there were casualties / crashes.

However... for cycling (and lots of walking) stuff, there's LTN1/20 and Manual for Streets (now "Designing Streets" in Scotland I think?) etc.  ...which are 'more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules'.  That's the difference, plus as you say even if they were who would enforce these?  Although there were references to "designed in line with LTN1/20" and getting repeat funding in some of the recent active travel funding tranches it didn't seem there was anything to stop you grabbing a bunch of cash *once* at least and then spaffing it on nonsense or indeed cars.

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Carl PETHER | 9 months ago
3 likes

Councils spend millions on these cycle paths that are designed my muppets. Even the best paths are used by dog walkers with extra long leads who ignore bells because they are wearing headphones. Or the paths are covered in glass! In my area of Cheshire literally every designated path for cyclists has broken glass on it it's like someone's going around dropping it there on purpose! But most cycle lanes have parked cars on them, dog walkers, or they end well they just suddenly end. They just slow you down and if your commuting
One near me is great for safety until your get to a junction where it crosses a road that your can't see the traffic that might be using the one way entrance as it's behind you, going the other way this give way might be sensible but when the traffic is behind you cutting you up "legally" it's a bit stupid. In Manchester there's a cycle path that's also a footpath and bus stop path it seems so your avoiding people and bus stops all the way down it

Cyclist need to be given the money to design roads themselves or maybe put the money into fixing roads that are national routes and make those roads for cyclists only or as no through routes for cars to keep them safe and remaining pot hole free.

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webbierwrex replied to Carl PETHER | 9 months ago
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The problem here is there is a very suitable alternative that runs in the same direction as the road. They could easily have done more to reduce rat running traffic. For example the road I live on was bliss when they closed the junction to cars while they were building that cycling lane. There was also a big boost in people walking and cycling passed my front door. However it would have been difficult to provide quiet cycling routes that would be anywhere near as direct as along the main road.

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mattw | 9 months ago
2 likes

If the design requires the utility box to be somewhere else, then of course it is feasible.

Silly man.

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mattw | 9 months ago
0 likes

Surely GCP are signed up to LTN 1/20 as policy?

What happened - shared cycle / ped path is required to be 3m wide, as we know?

I'd expect frivolous f*ckups in Bolton or Edinburgh, but Cambridge?

(Although TBF Cambridgeshire recently made a f*ckup of that cycling cattle grid that provided a cattle bridge at the sides.)

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eburtthebike | 9 months ago
6 likes

I wonder if any of the road for motor vehicles was dangerously narrow and against all guidance?  Surely someone on the Greater Cambridge Partnership realised that there are standards and that they should be following them?

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wtjs | 9 months ago
12 likes

I completely agree with the three below: the prevailing society opinion is that vehicle driving is necessary and everbody does it, and cycling is un-necessary and only a few anti-social nutters in lycra do it and should be stopped, especially during the funeral of a monarch.

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bensynnock replied to wtjs | 9 months ago
1 like

So why are you here?

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ktache replied to bensynnock | 9 months ago
1 like

Mainly to complain about the utter ineptitude and incompetence of his local constabulary.

But they do it so well...

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brooksby | 9 months ago
8 likes

My village has footpaths that width or possibly narrower which are right up against the roadway.  You know: where the cars and lorries are.

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HarrogateSpa | 9 months ago
12 likes

Overall it looks quite good.

They should widen the pavement if they can, but I think it's double standards. Often pavements next to roads are narrow, and no one says anything. Put a cycle track next to the footway and suddenly it's more dangerous than cyanide on your Weetabix.

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peted76 replied to HarrogateSpa | 9 months ago
5 likes

HarrogateSpa wrote:

Often pavements next to roads are narrow, and no one says anything. Put a cycle track next to the footway and suddenly it's more dangerous than cyanide on your Weetabix.

 

 

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webbierwrex replied to HarrogateSpa | 9 months ago
5 likes

It's really not. I live less than 200 meters from this at its shambolic. The bus station island sticks in to the bike lane in a dangerous way, the pavement is too narrow AND their are bollards right in the middle. I walk my 2 1/2 year old to nursery along here most days and it's very difficult to keep her safe from the bike path,l. Luckily as it's still under construction no many bikes use it but it would be unusable otherwise. Walking needs to be promoted and supported just as much as cycling, as it currently is the project does a disservices to both.

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horace_goes_sking replied to HarrogateSpa | 9 months ago
0 likes

A good example here, although there is a path the other side.

https://maps.app.goo.gl/xqjtxGWhGe6cmJFy7

Dale Road, Southampton.

Oddly there is no streetview on the bit where the pavement is very narrow but you can just about make it out. 

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Rezis replied to HarrogateSpa | 9 months ago
2 likes

How often when space is tight does the footway disappear making you walk in the road, heaven forbid they narrow the road to allow a footway it's inconvenient enough having to slow down for a pedestrian in the way...

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