Cobbled Speed Bumps

In the 1990’s, as part of re-styling traffic calming measures and the introduction of 20mph speed limits, speed-bumps were introduced in The Gallery, Silver Street, Barton Square and Road. Some of the speed-bumps have closely laid smooth paving bricks, but several have the smooth bricks only on the level top part, and sharp cornered, uneven and more widely spaced ‘cobbles’ on the ramps.

The heavily used, Silver street is variable width with parking bays and ‘squeeze points’ but generally narrow and many cyclists ride fast, taking the lane to avoid close passing by motor vehicles.

The aggressive cobbles on the ramps to the speed-bumps are particularly uncomfortable for cyclists and numerous cases of damage to bicycles, by the speed-bumps have been noted.

Smoother sections – 300-400mm wide, near the centre of the carriageway, have been suggested as a solution for cyclists.

cobbles2 cobbles1 cobbles4 cobbles3

Prior to 2012

During the public consultation process, it was remarked upon that the type of cobbles would not be cycle friendly.

In the early days of use of the restyled roads, letters were written to the council complaining about the speed-bumps making life difficult for cyclists and causing damage – these went unanswered.

April 2012

The subject has been raised on ShapeYourPlace and in local papers.

July 2012

The subject was also raised at the Ely Cycle Forum Meeting of 10 July 2012, where Andrea Haslock of Cambridgeshire County Council volunteered to look into the issue.

Andrea made the following reply to a request for a progress report on the matter:

My apologies for the delay in responding to your email, I have been away on leave.

I have been following up on this issue and have been in discussion with colleagues in our East Highways Area Office.

This is one of the many issues to be discussed at the Ely Traffic and Environment study group however whilst this group will put forward a report on which issues should be taken forward as priority, the decision will be made by East Cambridgeshire District Council members. As decisions are generally made for the following financial year to allow for necessary consultation and programming it is likely that if alterations to the cobbled humps are approved they would take place in the coming financial year rather than the current one.

I have also looked into why they were put in as cobbled humps rather than flat top ones and am told that this was a democratically decided community requirement that gave consideration to ECDC, Ely City Council and Cathedral views on the environmental impact, owing to central Ely being a conservation area. It will therefore be necessary to consider aesthetics as well as practicality when assessing any potential redesign. This is likely to affect how we move forward should alterations be approved, as the most cost effective method may not be environmentally acceptable to the District Council. Given the number of cobbled humps in the centre of Ely it may not be possible to alter all at one time and therefore it would be necessary to prioritise and initially alter only a small number of them with a view to carrying out further works at a later date. If this is the case then I will recommend that the Ely Cycle Forum is consulted as to which locations should be selected.

I have consulted with Colleagues in the Traffic team, and have been advised that their priority, from the small budget that they have available to them for this financial year, is to improve signing and lining for cyclists.  Therefore any potential funding for this scheme would have to be bid for from next year’s budgets.

Should no funding be forthcoming from ECDC, I will follow this up at the appropriate time with the relevant officers.

September 2012

September 18th: Following a walkabout with Jane Thompson and 2 highways engineers the following was decided:

The council officers all agreed they needed re-doing and the highways engineer thought the most cost effective way to tackle them was to take them up and re-lay them in a material that was durable and could be smoothed to the same smoothness as the bumps further down the Gallery. They would still need to be aesthetically pleasing to get approval but it didn’t sound like that would be an issue.

The Highways Engineers will cost up the work needed to close the road, take up the setts and re-lay them so they are smooth. Jane Thomson from East Cambs Council then has the choice of whether she submits this to use the S106 money.

September 25th: Andy spoke to Adam Cobb one of the highways engineers Christine spoke to on the 18th and he confirmed that the work was planned in and that highways would be happy to replace the cobbles with tarmac but the decision would need to go through the conservation officer. If they were against tarmac then flat bricks were the alternative option.

July 2013

July 2nd: Shape Your Place posts:

John J says:
July 2, 2013 at 7:50 am
Yet another wheel rim of mine (the 5th one)destroyed by these speedbumps. There are also bits of car springs often around the speedbumps.
As the councils are aware of the problem do they have any liability for the damages caused, particularly if this leads to an accident involving a damaged vehicle?

Ely Cycling Campaign says:
July 2, 2013 at 9:41 am
We have been assured on multiple occasions that the cobbles on these speed bumps will be removed and replaced with a smooth surface using some of the Sainsbury’s S106 money, yet nothing has been done.
When are these dangerous cobbled speed bumps going to be dealt with?

Cambridgeshire County Council says:
July 2, 2013 at 2:12 pm
Dear all
I will visit site and investigate further.
I will then provide an update on my findings and any remedial works required.
Steve @ Infrastructure

Ely Cycling Campaign says:
July 2, 2013 at 2:39 pm
Steve, would it be ok for us to meet you on site and talk over the issues.

MIke Rouse says:
July 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm
Happy to join you. Let’s get something sorted here. It can be done and it’s not much to ask for and can be achieved without prejudicing pedestrian safety.
Mike Rouse

July 10th: A number of campaign members had a site meeting with the County Council Infrastructure Officer. He said he could only authorise repair work but would chase up what had been previously agreed and get back to us.

July 12th: Initial reply from Infrastructure Officer after chasing up what had been agreed:

This is a scheme/ proposal being supported by ECDC, potentially funded by the S106 money from Sainsbury.  I offered proposals to ECDC, the stumbling block seemed to be reaching design agreement with their conservation officer.  A meeting was held this week between ECDC and CCC, to which I believe it was agreed that ECDC are furthering investigation/ design.  As soon as this is agreed, there is no reason why the works can not be completed.  However, TM will need careful consideration.

July 15th: Further update from officer

Following last weeks meeting, it has been ageed that the ECDC Conservation Team will look at a number of alternative products to replace the cobbles.

Once they have provided Cambridgeshire County Council with a preferred option we will submit a price too carry out the works at which point ECDC will decide the best way forward.

August 2013

August 13th: Further update from officer

No proposals from the Conservation Team have yet been put to us.

December 2013

December 11th: Another update from officer

Update – Today we have been given approval from ECDC to trial alternative blocks on the approach to the speed hump on Lynn Road, outside Lloyds Bank Ely.

This work will be carried out in early 2014 and if all parties are happy with the outcome discussions will be undertaken to roll out the new material around Ely.

January 2014

January 31st: Roadworks appear.

I was just wondering if this is (literally) a sign that the work on the cobbles is about to start.

This is unrelated maintenance works in Silver Street alone.

Can the cobbles not be undertaken at the same time?

If not do you know when the work on the cobbles is going to start?

We’re referred back to the email from December 11th

February 2014

February 11th: More roadworks appear

Is this the work on the cobbles

I’ve had a look on the Transport Delivery Plan but I can’t see any mention of work on Lynn Road or The Gallery.

This is the trial of the blocks at the speed hump outside Lloyds

March 2014

March 7th: Email sent to County & District Councillors and Officers

Please find attached letter from Ely Cycling Campaign regarding the cobbles in the Porta area of Ely.
We are writing to review the progress and communication on this issue to date, to bring all parties up to speed, remove any misunderstanding and agree a way forward.
We are suggesting a meeting between key parties in order to do this and requesting that an officer of the council to arrange said meeting.
We look forward to hearing from you.

Attached letter summarises the progress so far (as listed here) and assumes the trial installation is the way forward, it ends:

The conservation officer has also said that she was under the impression that a new
material would be trialled at the trial location and that she is not aware of why this
has not happened. As such it appears that there has been a breakdown of
communication between ECDC, CCC Highways, CCC Cycle Officers and Ely Cycling
In order to repair this breakdown and to resolve any outstanding issues, we would
like to suggest a meeting between all parties with a view to finding a clear and
agreeable way forward.
In particular, we should like to see:
• Agreement on the outcome of the trial
• Next steps following the trial
• Agreement and understanding on what the surface options are
• Agreed timetable for installation of the new surface
Please could an officer from one of the authorities confirm if this could be arranged
and begin by suggesting some dates when a meeting can take place?

March 10th: Reply from County Councillor

I  have said on Star Radio (this evening), it is the breakdown in
communications that has upset me. If the proposed trial was not going to
happen for budgetary reasons, or whatever, an announcement should have been
made. I now look forward to an alternative trial crossing at the earliest

During the remainder of March several emails go back and forth attempting to arrange a meeting

April 2104

April 10th: On site meeting held, District and County Councillor present, District Planning Officers and County Highway Officer

Notes from meeting:

Key Issues
Highways happy to replace cobbles, Conservation Officer happy for cobbles to be
removed subject to replacement being of suitable quality and in keeping with the Conservation Area.
Cycling Campaign said that cobbles are an issue not only along the Gallery, but also Silver Street,
Barton Road and Barton Square.
Currently a mix of surfaces and materials over ramps – was agreed a coherent approach is needed.
Option of putting a covering over the existing cobbles rejected as this would crack/break up – to
resolve the issue the cobbles need to removed and replaced.
Discussed only replacing a 1.5m wide section across the ramps but agreed best solution is to remove
the cobbles entirely. There is not sufficient space in highway for dedicated cycle lane.
Site visit identified Barton square raised table (outside entrance to the King’s School) as preferred
trial location.
All the cobbles would be removed from across the entrances and exits of the table and replaced with
a material similar to the one on the entrances/exits of the ramp opposite the Hayward Theatre –
Lorraine/James to source and agree on a product.
If trial is successful will look to roll out to other areas, subject to funding.

May 2014

May 12th: Meeting regarding Lisle Lane includes an update on the Cobbles from the District Council Officer

Officer reported that she and ECDC Conservation Officer are meeting with a rep to select a
suitable replacement for the cobbles on Thursday. Once agreed with Highways, this will then be used at the
trial site.

July 2014

July 28th: Roadworks appear we email the Officer from the meeting on April 10th

Also we noticed that The Gallery will be closed for some roadworks. Does that mean the cobbles will finally be fixed/ replaced?

Reply from County and District Councillor

I have asked for the gallery to be ‘cycle friendly’! I assume County have been in touch with you about it.

3 thoughts on “Cobbled Speed Bumps

  1. Pingback: No immediate plans to upgrade Cambridge Road but granite setts might be re-done | Ely Cycling Campaign

  2. Gareth

    The cobbles on the bump on Barton Road adjacent to King’s School are especially bad so would hope to see this hump high up on the priority list. Those on the other hump further up Barton road aren’t much better. To save costs it wouldn’t even be necessary to smooth the entire width of the hump, all that is really required is some smooth strips on each side of the road nearest the pavement where people generally cycle (on this road at least).

    1. marknokkert

      Yes, I agree. Just would like to add to not forget people with bicycle trailers. One thus needs at least a 1.2? m wide section flattened – on both sides in Barton Road, and on 1 side in Silver Street. this might also be an acceptible compromise for the conservation officer, who might perhaps not like the tarmac idea. triple win: conservation ok; lower costs; cyclists happy.

      Personally, I would prefer this over a full tarmacking over. Living bang on Silver Street, I am consciously aware of every driver who speeds through this street. Although replacing cobbles with tarmac would probably not make any difference for car drivers, visually it will have a very different impact and car drivers are more likely to take these humps at higher speeds. Keeping the central zone with cobbles means keeping the same visual ‘difficulty’ for car drivers. As cyclists we would not want to remove one problem (bad cobbles) with another (more speeding car drivers up our backs).

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