£500,000 Cambridge bridge scheme has cut traffic, boosted cycling and reduced crashes
A groundbreaking £500,000 cycling scheme on a busy road bridge in Cambridge has dramatically cut motor traffic, increased cyclist numbers and slashed accidents.
And the Hills Road Bridge is set to be showcased nationwide and now looks likely to be copied in a number of cycling projects across the UK.
From 2007-2009 there were 19 recorded personal injury accidents involving cyclists on the bridge of which two were serious and 17 slight. But from 2012-2014 these halved to just nine accidents involving cyclists – one was serious and the rest slight.
In 2008 about 5,400 cyclists crossed the bridge between 7am and 7pm on a weekday but in March this year numbers had increased to 6,850, a rise of 26 per cent and pedestrian numbers rose by 19 per cent whereas motor traffic plummeted by 25 per cent.
A county council spokesman said the reasons for the drop in motor traffic was because of more people were cycling and using the guided bus or choosing to drive other routes after months of avoiding the bridge because of busway roadworks and the change in the road layout for cyclists.
Cllr Noel Kavanagh, the county council’s cycling champion, said “This is a great example of the county council taking a good look at a problem and trialling ideas to come up with a scheme to improve safety and encourage more people to cycle.
“It has also benefitted pedestrians who previously mixed with cyclists on the bridge. And the scheme has not harmed the flow of traffic. Hills Road Bridge is on a key route for places of employment and education. Works underway to create segregated cycleways elsewhere on Hills Road will link to the bridge scheme to help improve this cycling route and reduce congestion in and around Cambridge.
“This is a great example of how, if you build cycling facilities, people will use them and reinforces that Cambridge is the cycling capital of the country.”
In 2006 a consultation was launched by proposing four options to improve safety, and encourage more people to cycle on the bridge. These multi-million pound options included widening the existing bridge or placing another bridge alongside the current one.
There was no overall steer offered from the consultation, and so council engineers carried out further analysis to look at the scheme to see if other options existed.
This led to the radical idea of reallocating road space and removing the central kerbed divider island. A trial took place in 2010 following the completion of the guided busway works that had been ongoing at the bridge for months. The trial confirmed that reallocating the space to include 2.1 metre wide cycle lanes on both side of the bridge had minimal impact on traffic delays.
This was achieved by limiting the ‘up-side’ of the bridge to one lane, and maintaining two lanes on the ‘down-side’ where traffic encountered traffic signals and thus needed to get in lane to queue.
The provision of specific facilities for cyclists is believed to also have greatly reduced the number of cyclists using the footway and clashing with pedestrians.
The final scheme modified to place the cycle lane in the middle of the two traffic lanes and opened in 2011.
The scheme was funded through Section 106 developer funding and Department for Transport funds.
A council spokesman said: “Other local authorities are now looking at the scheme and the council will look at using a similar scheme if it is appropriate to the individual road.”