Barred at Bar Hill: accidents waiting to happen

Connections to the iconic bridge at Bar Hill have not met the same design excellence as the bridge itself.

Since the 28th of July 2020 government policy on the design of cycle infrastructure is governed by 5 core principles. Networks and routes should be:

Coherent

Direct

Safe

Comfortable

Attractive

The massive investment involved in the iconic bridge which links Cambridge to Bar Hill offers a huge oportunity to change travel modes for those in Bar Hill who want to get to the city. The dedicated non motorised user (NMU) bridge across 10 lanes of some of the heaviest traffic in the country is a huge asset.

The Bar Hill roundabout.
The NMU route is cut by 2 roads without any warning to motorists of the risk of cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders crossing.
The ‘solution’ provded by Highways England and Cambridgeshre County Council is a chicane barrier at the foot of the bridge ramp (top right) 30m away from the first crossing point.
At the approach of Crafts Way to the roundabout the speed limit is indicated as 60mph.

Travelling from Cambridge, on leaving the bridge the cyclist is propelled down a gracefully arcing ramp to arrive on the level at a busy roundabout: everything that goes in or comes out of Bar Hill has to use this junction and the NMU route follows a path around it. The cycle route is cut in 2 places and these present a serious risk if a rider fails to give way to motor traffic. The design is that of a low priority footway with dropped kerbs at the roadside but makes no concession to the 5 principles. You have to stop and wait for a gap in the traffic to cross safely or, if you fail to stop, risk collision with motor traffic which has no prior warning of the cycle route crossing their path: in the dark this is a death trap.

The crossing at Crafts Way. A short dash across a 60mph road. There is nothing here to reduce the risk of colision with motor traffic aproaching or leaving the roundabout. There is no signage to warn motorists or cyclists of the hazard other than the reminder that this is the mandatory shared use route (Diagram 956).

Local residents have real concerns over what happens if a cyclist fails to stop and it appears the ’emergency’ barriers put up on 29th January are a response to this.

The fear is that drivers will be approaching the roundabout at such speeds that cyclists on the crossings are at risk. Given that the design has made no effort to manage vehicle speeds this makes sense. However barriers at the bridge do not remove the hazard of the roundabout crossings. Cambridgeshire County Council and Highways England have taken action and missed the risks inherent in the crossing layouts. By using an outdated specification for a shared footway and failing to heed the 5 principles they have tried to band-aid a haemorrhage of risks.

Now that the route has been cast in tarmac the action to make it comply with the core principles is constrained. Taking LTN1/20 as a guide amelioration of risk is possible by proportionate control of traffic speeds at the approach to conflict points. Adding interruptions to car journeys is never popular and ideas of ‘good traffic flow’ are deep set in the minds of many but, by placing transport modes at equal priority, a balance of risks could be achieved.

How the crossings at the The Bar Hill roundabout could work with LTN1/20 compliance.

A reduced speed limit for the approach zone would reduce the severity of risk. That Highways England have failed to appraise the risk of introducing a cycle route cutting acros a 60mph rated road suggests treating cyclists as an equal mode to cars hasn’t happened.

Yes, that’s a 60mph speed limit opening just as you approach the cycleway on Crafts Way.
With no advance warning of the hazard of the cycleway drivers will be giving the roundabout approach thier attention..and speed up if they see a gap.

The lack of warning signs alerting motor traffic to the new status of the junction as a shared space underlines an attitude toward non motor traffic that is seen as a hazard to be, at best, contained by barriers or simply ignored: there are no signs warning drivers they are a risk factor, there is no reduction in speed limit and no attempt to engineer any protection for cyclists following a route across one of the most costly active travel infrastructure assets in the country.

Diagram 950.This sign appears absolutely nowhere on the entire scheme.

Design guidance for a cycleway crossing a 40/ 60mph rated road such as Crafts Way requires signage, and speed reduction measures at the approaches.

The positioning of give way lines pays no heed to the risk of failing to stop at the cycleway:

The give way sign directs drivers straight over the cycleway before entering the roundabout. Placed before the cycleway it would reduce the risk of collision far better than barriers at the foot of the bridge.

The crossings, if the government guidelines were followed, could look like this:

The Willows hotel acess road crossing according to LTN1/20
The crossing at Crafts Way as directed by LTN1/20. It is possible the PCU/day limit is exceeded for this design which would call for even more agressive engineering controls of motor vehcle movements

By isolating the bridge with barriers the coherence of the route is broken. 6 months after opening the bridge has been barriered. When this scheme opened it already contravened the Dept for Transport design guide with unsafe junction configurations and has now resorted to barriers which are explicitly not to be used as they are are a disincentive to using the route and limit inclusive accessibility.

Not only does constricting access to the bridge fail to address the risks at the conflict points but, by making a decision based on the path of a fit and nimble standard bike rider and ignoring the ‘design vehicle’ which should ensure clearance for the safe use of trikes, handcycles, cargo, trailer and tandem bikes the route is no longer able to include as many active travel options as it could.

The NMU route from the magnificent bridge into Bar Hill is

Incoherent– it is cut in 3 places by barriers, crossings and abrupt changes.

Indirect-to get to Tesco you get to the end of the new cycleway, meet a fence and have to find a gap in the hedge to continue, all without any signs to show the way.

Unsafe– cycles crossing Crafts Way and the Willows without any speed controls or indication of mode priority would fail any safety audit.

Uncomfortable-having to dodge round the barriers and avoid opposing cycle and pedestrian traffic, having to stop and look for traffic over the shoulder at the crossings is awkward as well as risky.

Unattractive-all the obstructions add up to a confused mess and make taking the roundabout look like the swiftest way to get to and from the bridge.

The main issue here is not that the barriers shouldn’t be there (they shouldn’t) but, by taking no action to control motor traffic speeds at crossings there is a complete ignorance of the need to manage risk in the design of this busy junction. To place a cycleway across a roundabout approach with a 60mph rating without even a warning sign is negligent and should the worst occur Highways England should be held to account.

A campaign to get LTN 1/20 applied and the barriers removed is here: bit.do/SignA14Petition

B

About billboyheritagesurvey

Heritage worker
This entry was posted in Bike life and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Barred at Bar Hill: accidents waiting to happen

  1. Selected responses and notes from Camcycle via posting a link to this blog on the Bar Hill Community Facebook page from 63 hits :

    1. The Bar Hill side of the bridge has a 40mph speed limit, not 60mph (residents say the signage is incorrect here and should have been changed as part of the bridge project).

    2. “The bridge was not put in place just for cyclists, and I would argue that priority for traffic entering/leaving the village takes priority over cyclists. I am local, and have walked, cycled and ridden my horses over the bridge, in my opinion, the barriers do not impede this in any way. If we can negotiate horses on and off the bridge, then I fail to see why a cyclist can’t do the same? Before that bridge was built, we all managed on the main flyover.”

    3. Comments that it’s not appropriate for me to campaign for something I personally haven’t seen, used or am likely to in the near future as I am not local. Having been clear that I represent Camcycle and our members in Bar Hill and the wider area, I don’t take this offensively, but I think it’s clear that some sort of consensus on the barriers was reached a few months ago in the Facebook group and to have an outsider come in and campaign against them has got people’s backs up. Which I can understand. However, there are also clearly people in Bar Hill who do back our campaign and finding out more about them/encouraging them to work together would be useful.

    4. “Speaking of planning the route the paths are covered in tiny stones that have caused me a few punctures and when you get into Bar Hill there is no real route to get any further without cycling on the road or though the village.” I think this gets to the crux of the issue that the bridge hasn’t been designed in properly to a useful route for all ages and abilities through the village.

    5. “Perhaps logically, before any changes are suggested/made, numbers should be looked at. The bridge currently has a lot of use, which I suspect will decrease post- lockdown, so maybe then ‘the powers that be’ can look into the number of users and then decide if any further safety measures are necessary” This also sums up much of the ‘pro-barrier’ argument. The route is not seen as something to enable more people to cycle and walk – I think at the moment it’s seen as a leisure route which is useful in lockdown but should be of less priority than everyday ‘important’ motor traffic entering the village.

    6. Related to the last point, I note that another post in the Bar Hill community relates the outcome of a recent Parish Council meeting at which the proposal of a new footpath round the Bar Hill perimeter road was discussed. A resident noted that parish councillors “stated that residents are only moaning about there not being a path because so many are at home at the moment because of lockdown and when people get back to normal it will not be wanted as much… I also get the feeling that they don’t really want to take the project on, and this brings me to, the residents of this village are wanting a perimeter path so that they can walk around the village in a safe and mud free fashion, the Parish Council is meant to strive to carry out want the residents would like to see in the village, however I feel that there simply is no desire or interest to pursue this project.”

    So it seems to me that there is a wider issue here with the perception of active travel in the village which needs to be tackled.

  2. Pingback: County fails to take action on A14 bridge barriers – for now – Cambridge Cycling Campaign

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.