Lancaster Way Roundabout

Lancaster Way

The Council (Highways and Transport Committee) has recommended a crossing for horse-riders, pedestrians and cyclists on the A142 near Lancaster Way roundabout in Ely.

A public consultation had indicated opposition to the proposed plans to increase capacity on the roundabout, with Cambridgeshire County Council without provision for non-motorised travel.

Highways officers will now address the Council’s recommendation.

The A10/A142 ‘BP garage’ roundabout

Find below some extracted comments from the 16 June Highways and Transport Committee meeting. These can be taken out of context so check out the video yourself.

You can find Cllr Hunt’s main contribution starting 39 minutes into the video. He asserted that the BP roundabout change would help local commuting for new, high value jobs on the Lancaster Way Estate.  We have absolutely no problem making this commute easier. In a response to a later question, Cllr Hunt observed that the ‘Southern Bypass’ had resulted in an increased volume of motor traffic -and not a decrease in congestion at the BP roundabout. His words were ‘We are a victim of our success’. The officer noted that there are currently 26,000 movements on the A142 and that these are mainly long-distance journeys.

The outcome of this roundabout change will be an increase in long-distance traffic, not a decrease congestion. Cllr’s Hunts assumption that congestion will be lower and carbon dioxide emissions lower is wrong.

Additionally, Cllr Hunt pointed out that there has been extensive investment on the cycleway between Ely and Sutton. He acknowledged that this route eventually will need improvement, mentioning a bridge over the A10 that would cost £2M. But ‘We should share out the fishes and the bread’ by which we think he means that he prioritises spending a little bit of money on cycleways in (not necessarily to) other parts of the District rather than allowing use of the extensively invested cycleway that we have already built west of the A10 on the Ely to Sutton route.

You can find Cllr Baileys main contribution 39 minutes into the video.

In summary, the Committee approved the changes to the BP roundabout without amendment. There were laudable comments all around about respecting active travel at some undetermined time in the future. The County apparently expects the A10 dualling project team to correct the mess the Council made today. The Chair’s metaphor is that the County Council has hit the tennis ball into the Combined Authority’s court.

See the source image

Social distancing in Ely after lockdown

The UK is moving from the COVID lockdown phase to the containment phase and this will require social distancing in public areas. Below are our suggestions on how to make more space available in the busiest areas in Ely:

Schools

Ely College

Many children walk to Ely College along Downham Road. The pavements are too narrow for safe social distancing and a coned off >1m wide lane should be provided on both sides of Downham Road for extra walking and cycling space.

The Lantern

The car park should be closed for cars during drop off and pickup to give parents and children more space while waiting.

St Johns

St Johns Road should have a >1.5m coned off lane on the southern side. In the long term it might be better to make St Johns Road one-way or access-only for cars from Beresford Road to West End Road.

Beresford Road should have >1m wide coned off lanes on both sides up to Alexander Chase.

St Marys

Many children walk to St Marys along High Barns. The pavements are too narrow for safe social distancing and a coned off >1m wide lane should be provided on both sides of High Barns for extra walking and cycling space. High Barns should be made one-way to provide the necessary space.

Kings

Kings students walk to Ely Cathedral at the same time as many commuters walk to the station along The Gallery. The Gallery should be closed to motorised traffic so extra walking and cycling space can be provided.

 

Shopping areas

High Street

People will have to queue outside shops and pavements are too narrow for safe social distancing. The High Street should be permanently closed to traffic and parking should be removed to provide extra queuing and walking space.

Transport hubs

Train station

The pavements of Back Hill are too narrow for safe social distancing for commuters walking to the station while school children are walking the other way. Back Hill should be made one-way or access only so a coned off >1m wide lane can be provided on both sides for extra walking and cycling space.

Bus stop (Market Street)

A 2m wide coned off area should be created on the southern side of Market Street to provide extra waiting and walking space at least near the bus stops.

Our members views of the new cycle approach to the station

new_underpass

 

The work has now finished on the road past the station and under the underpass towards Soham. It’s not what we campaigned for.

Here’s a selection of views from our members.

“I fail to see how the infrastructure either improves access to the station for cyclists or increases their safety”
I cycled to the station for the first time in a while this morning. Although the red bit of tarmac looks nice, all it seems to do is miss the roundabout out and not the lights. I’ve never had a problem with the roundabout, it’s been the run up to it from Broad Street, and between it and the station turning where I’ve been put in more danger by overtaking (and undertaking) cars, so I decided to stick with what I know.
I followed two vehicles on the road and the lights went green just as the front vehicle approached. I’m not sure if the lights have sensors on, and if they do whether they detect cycles, but I didn’t have to come to a complete stop at the lights which was helpful on a windy day like today.
As I passed the lights I noticed that the red tarmac stops there, I think giving cyclists two options – either to come out into traffic and cross a lane to turn right, or cross at the lights onto the path the other side and then cross two lanes of traffic to get back onto the road leading to the station. Both of these options mean crossing at least one lane of traffic and the second mixes cyclists with pedestrians, so I was glad I stayed with the traffic on the road.
The car at the front of the line of traffic indicated left and turned into the car wash site, and the white van that was following went underneath the bridge – straight through a red light! I can see this happening in future with drivers risking the red if they can’t see traffic the other end and I think accidents will happen here. It made me think what a missed opportunity it was to not close the underpass to motor vehicles entirely, creating a safe path to and from the station for cyclists and pedestrians.
On a positive note, I think it has improved pedestrian access as there is now a lowered kerb either side of the entrance making it safer for pedestrians to cross. However I fail to see how the infrastructure either improves access to the station for cyclists or increases their safety.
I’d be happy to be proved wrong of course, and would like to hear from anyone who has used the red path as a way of getting to the station.
On a related note, I cycled back from the station and noticed the white lines and hatchings haven’t been repainted at the entrance to Annesdale. It could make turning right into Annesdale very dangerous for cycles if they’re not repainted soon.
“… my wife was overtaken between the end of the bike path and the station entrance by a car racing to catch the green lights leading under the bridge … So while at first I thought the bike lane was inadequate but harmless, now I’m quite concerned about this new layout”
I use the cycle path (red bit) to bypass the roundabout. I quite like that aspect of it. Then, like the vast majority of cyclists, I join the road and turn right into the station. This is not ideal of course. It certainly gives the impression that whoever designed this really had no idea what was needed here since the bike lane simply stops short of where people need to be.
I have not had any problems turning into the station. However the other day my wife was overtaken between the end of the bike path and the station entrance by a car racing to catch the green lights leading under the bridge. This really could have been a disaster since 99% of cyclists will be turning right into the station. With idiots in cars rushing to get the lights thinking they can overtake here I think it is a recipe for disaster. So while at first I thought the bike lane was inadequate but harmless, now I’m quite concerned about this new layout.
Regarding pedestrian access, yes the dropped kerbs will be good for prams/wheelchairs/mobility scooters, but pedestrians still have to run the gauntlet to cross the station entrance, and of course there is still no safe route through the car park from Tesco. In that regard the station access for pedestrians has only been improved very slightly, by the addition of dropped kerbs at the entrance.
“… as ever, it seems a great opportunity has been wasted”
I haven’t cycled it, but have walked to and from the station & haven’t taken everything in yet, so much of this is impression only & I would like to know what others think. But, as ever, it seems a great opportunity has been wasted – especially the pedestrian/bike crossing. The cycle lane on the north-west side (Standen’s) ends abruptly, so segregation effectively ends there. Most cyclists will not dismount. They will either try to merge into the road traffic (hazardous) or carry on and mingle with the pedestrians waiting to cross (thereby perpetuating the conflict between those on foot and those on two wheels). The lights now show it as a dual purpose crossing, but cyclists then getting across to the south-east (Tesco’s) side will find the same old jumble, with no real clear distinction between foot and bike. Pedestrian provision at the actual road leading up to the station is still an absolute disgrace. No safe crossing point and with cars parked on that stretch and/or queuing to get onto Station Road, pedestrians are unsighted, with both bikes and cars turning into that road at speed.
On the other side of the underpass there is still inadequate pedestrian and cycle provision, the idea seeming to be that you are supposed to cross back and forth across the A127. There is  a bizarre direction sign for Network 11 showing straight ahead for Cawdle Fen (when a right turn is coming up) and left into Ely along the river for Stuntey, which is actually straight ahead – not that I would recommend cycling it anyway. A 90 deg adjustment to the sign is needed I would suggest.
On both sides there are signs directing over-height lorries who have missed the warning signs to go towards the old level crossing and turn. But there is no turning space (except on the Station Rd side if the car wash is open & will accommodate them). Just hope the trucking companies have updated all their sat-navs…
“Overall I would describe the station approach as dangerous for cyclists, especially less experienced ones”
I cycled into the station car park this afternoon and like others found the new red area marginally helpful but it finishes very abruptly and you still have to take your chances cycling across to the station competing with a varying degree of motorised traffic. The approach roads of Back Hill and Station road, I note still have very worn out cycle motifs on the road and I experienced a couple of “close passes” as cars hurried pass me here.
Overall I would describe the station approach as dangerous for cyclists, especially less experienced ones.

Ways to Increase ‘Active Travel’

Ride to Reach Fair 2018

The House of Commons Transport Select Committee asked for views on how to increase the amount of walking and cycling -active travel.

This is our response.

Ely Cycling Campaign (ECC) wants better cycle facilities in and around Ely, Cambridgeshire and promotes cycling in the area. Cycling in Ely languishes whilst we see it doing much better 10 miles to the south, in Cambridge. We briefly describe below two of our experiences of what goes wrong then draw on these to make our conclusion.

East Cambridgeshire District Council is very proud of the cycling facilities from the centre of town to the new Leisure Village. The details in the planning permission and in the promotional material looked good but when it came to delivering, the cycle facility stopped short of the cycle parking. The area that we thought would provide that link is planted with trees, a commercial sign and a utilities box. Cyclists are expected to dismount and mix with pedestrians for the last 200 yards of their trip. This, according to the Council is adequate.

The Ely Southern Bypass budget included a large sum for walking and cycling across this busy road (A142), as part of a plan, included in the Proposed Submission Local Plan, for walking and cycling between an outlying village, Stuntney, and town. No walking/cycling crossing has been built. In addition, despite this new replacement road, motor vehicle access at the old site will be retained, which encourages short motor trips rather than using active travel.

We conclude that the root cause of these errors is local politicians’ lack of understanding of active travel, their undue bias to motor vehicle transport and inadequate consultation. The engineers are the same as those who build better cycling infrastructure to be found in Cambridge.

You can find more details on the above points and similar issues at our website: https://elycycle.org.uk/

Please find below an extract from the ECC draft response to the Department for Transport (DfT) request for views on the introduction of new cycling offences. The points made in this extract are relevant to your enquiry.

We acknowledge that when asked about barriers to cycling, non-cyclists usually put perceived lack of safety at the top of the list. Safety is an important consideration and can be partly addressed by improved cycling infrastructure, in particular provision of an integrated transport network. However, motoring short distances needs to be engineered out of the transport options. Given the nature of local politics, central government needs to lay down strict standards for new transport infrastructure builds, ones that provide a feeling of safety to cyclists and dissuade short motor trips, and ensure that they are adhered to.

Extract from the Ely Cycling Campaign draft response to the DfT Consultation on Cycling Offences

We note (from police STATS19 data) that in Cambridgeshire, pedestrians killed or seriously injured (KSI) have remained unchanged since 2004. However, cyclist KSI have increased over the years, being greater than pedestrian KSI ever since 2009. In the Ely District, we have had 2 cyclist deaths and 56 seriously injured between 2005 and 2016. In the same period, there were over 200 STAT19 pedestrian injuries (all severities) but none involved a cyclist.

Motor vehicle occupants have KSI statistics threefold greater than either pedestrians or cyclists and of course, drivers of motor vehicles are responsible for the vast majority of KSI in other travellers. We also note a recent increase in motor vehicle occupants KSI.

ECC is concerned by the limited scope of the DfT consultation. We have no objection to introducing new cycling offences but any change that does not include motor vehicle offences and penalties is a distraction from the clear needs as illustrated by the above statistics.

Four years ago, DfT recognised that our road traffic laws were not working and promised to do something about it. We ask the DfT to broaden the remit of the current review to include all traffic law. This could both promote road safety and help ensure that appropriate sanctions are imposed when people are endangered by the behaviour of other road users.

Open Letter to Councillor Bailey

Letter sent to Councillor Bailey today:

Ely Cycling Campaign is sometimes invited to comment on cycling-related projects. It is our experience that such invitations almost always come after the decisions have been made and those decision are poor. They are poor because the infrastructure is noncompliant with current design principles, being unsafe, unpleasant to use and do not connect places that people want to go. The facilities will be underused and therefore are a waste of money.

We have recently been ‘consulted’ on the cycling provision around the new Angel Drove Roundabout, at the western end of the Southern Bypass. The cycling and walking layout is a done deal and yet again, we believe that as an afterthought, the Campaign has been consulted so that some box can be ticked. We note that what has already been built does not take into account the role of infrastructure at the Roundabout in the overall provision for cycling in the District.

Another recent example involved Ely Leisure Village. Cycling access to the Village effectively stops at the underpass -cyclists have to dismount and walk the remaining 100 yards to the parking. We could have told you that stopping short like this was very unattractive to cyclists, putting them in conflict with pedestrians as well as being inconvenient. This is also a missed opportunity to begin a cycling connection between Little Downham and Ely. We were not consulted in the decision to cancel the planned Village cycleway. You have wasted money.

On the connectedness issue, we know that schemes must sometimes be staged. We see this with the shared route between Witchford and Sutton and are pleased to see that the Witchford end is now being upgraded. However, planning attention is often focussed on what is about to be built without considering how the current project fits into, for instance, the Local Plan.

Please can we meet up so we can look into improving the quality of input to highways projects, so you spend money effectively, building infrastructure that people will use. If we discuss just one scheme that will help us understand how to spend money better, then cycling access to the Railway Station might be a good case.

 

ECC letter to Cllr Bailey

How switched on to the emissions scandal are our politicians?

It’s hard to ignore the growing unease surrounding vehicle pollution since the VW emissions scandal was uncovered. Two things have become clear in the wake of it all. One, is that vehicles are producing far more toxic emissions on the road than we realised, due to car manufacturers gaming emissions tests. The second is that while we were focussing on Co2 emissions we took our eye off Nox or Nitrous Oxide emissions, which are more harmful to human health than Co2, and it turns out there is a lot more of it in the air than we realised. Indeed, it has now been shown that as a result of far higher emissions of Nox, huge numbers of areas in our towns and cities are exposed to pollution levels far above legal limits.

“The analysis of the most recent government data exposes how dangerous levels of nitrogen dioxide pollution (created by nitrous oxide) are not limited to large metropolitan centres but threaten the health of children and young people in towns and cities from Newcastle to Plymouth.”
The Guardian 4 April 2017

One wonders if this is going to be a watershed moment, if the time for worshipping at the altar of the car will soon be at an end. The actions of various big city mayors across Europe and beyond, enacting hard demand management measures against the car, would seem to suggest so. These are measures of the kind one might associate with those regularly forced on citizens in China to try and keep the air breathable. Yet it is now happening in western capitals in Europe and look set to be introduced in London too.
So it is with a mixture of sadness and not a little anger, that in light of all this, we should see this astonishingly inappropriate new pledge for the local elections by our incumbent politicians:

twitter
If you want the A10 upgraded, you know what to do in the @CambsCC and @CllrJamesPalmer Mayoral elections on 4th May! — Anna Bailey (@AnnaBailey_Ely) March 31, 2017

It’s hard to understate just how backwards and out of touch you have to be to believe that turning the A10 in East Cambridgeshire into our very own version of the A14 is any kind of solution to any kind of issue. Leaving aside the total lack of environmental awareness.  Indeed, a local blogger who is a Policy Analyst for the Campaign for Better Transport has already looked in some detail at the possible objectives and outcomes of widening the A10 and found precious little sense or benefits.

https://greenwithenvysite.wordpress.com/2017/04/05/digging-a-trench-in-a-swamp-why-widening-the-a10-wont-tackle-congestion/

Bring your car, tell your friends!!

Of course, we are relatively lucky, today, to be able to enjoy fresh unpolluted air most of the time, but it would be complacent and irresponsible in the extreme to ignore how we might already be affected by dangerous emissions like so much of the rest of the country. Yes, Ely is not London, which is the sort of response we regularly receive in discussion on this topic. This makes no sense as a response, because it suggests that we can allow ourselves to simply carry on expanding the road space, filling it with more and more vehicles, until we ARE as polluted as London. Ely is such a compact centre that already fills up with cars on market days and weekends, thanks in no small part to the current administration’s open arms policy towards cars.

We accept that Ely is growing and is set to grow again significantly with the eventual addition of 3,000 houses at North Ely, which will of course create further transport demands. Indeed, it can only bring more cars to the area. What our politicians have simply got to get out of their heads (the current administration in particular) is the idea that more cars must automatically mean we must provide more space for them. So that as our towns and cities grow, we must be perpetually building more roads until every car can travel unhindered at all times. This will never happen. European nations and cities understand this – I particularly recommend Ghent in Belgium!

ghent
Car Free Ghent

No, always seeking to make space for cars will ONLY encourage them to be used at every opportunity and to pollute our air at every opportunity – for the trip to the shops, the journey to work, to school or the trip to the leisure centre. Cambridge has shown us that growing your local population and reducing car use are not mutually exclusive goals. More houses and more people inevitably means more cars but this does not mean we cannot reduce car USAGE. This we can do like many other places with careful and enlightened transport planning and policy. It makes little sense therefore, to dramatically increase the numbers of vehicles being USED on the road by spending precious public funds on filling the trunk road that encircles much of the city with ever more cars. Remember also that the spread of Ely has now reached and crossed over the existing A10, bringing people and pedestrians and cyclists in to regular direct contact with the road. The last thing we need to be doing is making the A10 in to an impassable, deafening pollution highway, forming a barrier between the city and the growing developments to the west like Lancaster Way, the new retail park and the pending leisure centre.

Rather than more road building, Ely Cycle Campaign believe we should be putting our resources in to making Ely a fully interconnected city from north to south, east to west and to its surrounding villages, with park and ride facilities for those who need to drive from further out. Park and Ride will be viable – unlike previously – once we have another 3000+ vehicles in Ely alone, courtesy of the north Ely development, and put the relevant incentives in place. That does mean charging to park in the centre, which can pay for Park and Ride facilities encouraging drivers to leave their cars at the gates, so to speak. We know how much nicer Ely City Centre is when the High Street is closed on a Saturday. It could be even better if we could address the choking mess of cars on Newnham Road and around Waitrose and the Paradise Centre on Thursdays and at weekends. At the moment, far too many people drive to the centre who would not need to, given the right facilities and encouragement, and good pedestrian and cycle routes. The underpass under the A10, the development and upgrading of the paths around and through the city and beyond, that we have co-operated with authorities to see built since our inception, are the right way to go and we are grateful for this progress. But there’s a lot more to do and a lot more money needed! Ely is a beautiful city to walk and cycle around – mostly – but we are threatening this with the current local administration’s zeal for car worship, be it the ‘bring your car, tell your friends’ parking policy, or what now appears as a new drive to lay more tarmac. We can see the case for the bypass as the best of the available options for solving the problems at the station area, but it would be a massive mistake – unnecessary, expensive and now we are seeing, incredibly damaging to our health – to push for another major new road building project involving the A10.
At the local elections, please use your vote and use it carefully!

Underpass decision shows lack of commitment

A142-stuntney

 

We have been repeatedly promised by County Council officers that the new southern bypass would include an underpass so that Stuntney and beyond are not cut off from Ely by it. This is a problem that the villages around Ely all suffer from and so ensuring it was avoided with the new bypass seemed like progress and forward thinking.

Unfortunately it seems that was all hot air and when it comes down to it the County Council’s commitment to cycling in rural areas is pretty non-existent.

From Cambridge News:

Councillors met yesterday (February 9) at Cambridgeshire County Council’s environment and education committee. They voted to recommend work on the cycle underpass cease after it was revealed the work to build it would be far more expensive and difficult than previously expected.

It had previously been thought the underpass would cost £30,000. Final estimates, however, placed the overall figure at more than £1 million over the initial budget.

This might seem like a sensible decision without some context.

Firstly, the County Council is supposed to be committed to sustainable transport and encouraging cycling in particular.

From the County’s Local Transport Plan [PDF]

Countywide, we will continue to push forward in making sustainable modes of transport more attractive by continuing to develop sustainable networks for walking and cycling, making it easier for people to change between modes of transport and working with bus operators to provide high quality bus services. In addition, we aim to improve the environment and safety for pedestrians, cyclists and public transport users, in accordance with our user hierarchy and focus on raising awareness of the transport choices available, including the health and environmental benefits of cycling and walking. This will include work with local planning authorities to ensure provision for sustainable modes that form an integral part of new developments.

Secondly, the cost. £1 million sounds a lot (which it is) but, it’s less that 3% of the cost of the bypass.

Thirdly, the crucial nature of the underpass. It’s the best solution for all road users. It provides a safe way for pedestrians, cyclists, mobility scooter users etc to cross the new bypass without affecting the traffic flow. The Cambridge News mentions a “safe crossing” being planned. If this doesn’t include traffic lights then it’s not a safe crossing and will leave those who live in Stuntney and beyond cut off from Ely.

From this report in the Ely Standard we’re told:

[Brian Stinton, team leader for major infrastructure and highways]’s report noted that current cycling usage is low – around 45 per day- and even with improvements this is unlikely to grow significantly.

This logic beggars belief. The County council has spent lots of time and resources asking what puts people off cycling and the answer is always the same, lack of safe routes. Brian’s logic here is that low usage caused by a lack of a safe route justifies not building a safe route. We note that no evidence is given for his assertion that “this is unlikely to grow significantly”.

This is a fundamentally short-sighted decision showing that the Councillors have little commitment to sustainable transport in rural areas.

We’d like to know:

  1. If there’s not going to be an underpass, what kind of safe crossing is going to be provided?
  2. Are the promised improvements around the station we’ve also been promised going to happen?
  3. How many other schemes we’ve been told are on the cards will be shelved in a similar manner?

The County Council really needs to demonstrate that its commitment to cycling and other forms of sustainable transport extends beyond routes in and around Cambridge.