Green is the new red – St Ives traffic lights changed to stop cyclists riding through legally

Signals on Cambridgeshire’s guided busway meant to give priority to buses

by Simon_MacMichael   August 23, 2014  

Cambridge Guided Busway (picturecredit Scania (Great Britain) Ltd.jpg

Cambridgeshire County Council has changed the way a set of traffic lights aimed at giving priority to buses using the guided busway in St Ives operates – because cyclists have discovered how to trigger the sensors and get themselves a green light too. The local authority says the issue is adding to congestion in the town.

The junction, where the guided busway meets Harrison Way, has a traffic light controlled crossing intended for use by people on foot and bike, reports the Hunts Post. But some cyclists realised that staying on the guided busway and activating the sensor as they rode past would change the lights.

A council spokesman said: “An engineer went to adjust the lights after we got reports that cyclists were triggering them. Since the changes we’ve had no reports of this happening.

“The cycle route along the guided busway continues to be used by many cyclists. There’s been lots of sunshine and using this cycle route is a great way to get outdoors to enjoy the summer whether you’re commuting or cycling for leisure.”

The Hunts Post says that a number of drivers have claimed that the time spent to negotiate Harrison Way has lengthened since the guided busway came into operation in 2011, though the council disagrees.

It adds that two years ago, a volunteer-staffed transport and environment working group surveyed traffic on Harrison Way and in a report to St Ives Town Council that during morning rush hour from 7am to 9am, the lights turned red every two minutes, for an average of 21 seconds.

That meant that during those two hours, traffic was held at the lights for a total of 23 minutes each morning.

Connecting Cambridge with St Ives and Huntingdon, the guided busway opened in August 2011 and covering 25 kilometres is the longest such facility in the world.

10 user comments

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ITYM "the misguided busway is the longest such farcility in the world".

Doctor Fegg's picture

posted by Doctor Fegg [142 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 14:15


the Harrison Way lights turned red every two minutes. The survey said each time the lights were red for an average of 21 seconds

Is that with or without cyclists setting off the sensor?

How long do cyclists have to wait at red lights?

Story short on details.

21seconds every two minutes is certainly nothing to complain about.

posted by kie7077 [801 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 16:30


"That meant that during those two hours, traffic was held at the lights for a total of 23 minutes each morning."

Unbelievable. They mean motor traffic on the road was held. The cycle traffic, using this 12 mile route to one of the biggest areas of employment in Cambridge, used by huge numbers of people to get to work by bike, can go hang.

posted by HKCambridge [212 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 17:32


This just makes me wonder...?

If riders are having to use a separate sensor to trigger access across a junction then doesnt this mean the cycle provision there is pretty poor or not working?

How are riders expected to cross via council plans there?

And how long is the wait for their own green?

As HKCambridge says - given how many use said route - is there enough riders to outweigh the driver frequency across said junction? I also don't think the wait motorists have claimed is that bad - there are many junctions I have seen in Hampshire that are a LOT worse and a lot longer a wait.

downfader's picture

posted by downfader [204 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 18:57


Cambridge County Council are really disengenuous feckers. At peak times the lights only change to red to stop traffic so people can cross the busy road if a bus comes triggering the lights to change. At peak times If you are a ped or cyclist pressing the button for the crossing is useless as the lights don't change. They have deliberately set them like this so you wait absolutely ages as the Council prefers cars and traffic over peds and cyclists. And the lights are very dangerously placed. So many cars approaching this junction around a blind bend from the south blow the red light nearly flattening those legitimately walking or riding across. It is only a matter of time before some one is killed. The Council should install an advance traffic light 100m before the main one like they do in Europe at dangerous or busy junctions. The busway is in a very poor and overgrown state at the moment as Cambridgeshire County Council don't give a fuck about cyclists or peds, but they do about the buses as they generate cash for them so men with strimmers can be frequently seen strimming adjacent to the busway to keep the vegetation/grass nice and short, but they never cut the masses of overgrown vegetation, thistles, nettles, etc that border the cycle path. In many places the width of the path is very much reduced making it very dangerous for cyclists approaching each other to pass safely and also for peds and joggers. They leave the vegetation to become very overgrown as cyclists don't bring them any money. There is so much horse shit on the path that is never cleared up and broken glass again never cleared up so your tyres get cut up or covered in shit. Those at the Council need to pull their fingers out out of their back sides and get their act together. Don't forget this is the said same Council that built the service road/cycle path below the level of the actual busway with help from Sustrans to fund it but the result is that the path is flooded for the majority of the year as they didn't elevate it to the same level as the busway so floods even when only so much as a tea cup of rain falls. ! F**k me they are so stupid.


posted by Airzound [996 posts]
23rd August 2014 - 23:22


Isn't this change contrary to the Cambridgeshire local transport plan policies? Got any friendly county councillors?

posted by a.jumper [833 posts]
24th August 2014 - 8:46


Get off the fence Airzound & tell us what you really think.

posted by tarquin_foxglove [115 posts]
24th August 2014 - 9:08


The blighters who devised this anti-cycling technology - they've not caught the We Hate Cyclists Disease (WHCD) currently rampant in the New Forest, have they?
There is also a strain of this sickness among people in the Box Hill area of Surrey where drivers complain of being held up by riders.
I've become so concerned that I may be holding up drivers I often flag them down and offer to give them my telephone number, so they can phone me each morning with their intended route which I promise to avoid using at the same time.

posted by Condor flyer [34 posts]
24th August 2014 - 22:05


I used to love cycling in Germany, you have traffic lights for cyclists which get priority. I once met a friend stuck in traffic on one side of town. I was on my bike I managed to get across town, and 10Km's out of town before she caught up with me. That was riding legally, using their infrastructure in the 90's. Why don't these planners & councillors take a trip over and have a look. Oh and while they are at it they could learn how to do recycling properly too Wink

posted by martib [57 posts]
25th August 2014 - 17:10


Hand up, I'm guilty of doing this. Admitting not at rush hour though. Discovered it by accident, as was fed up of the tocan crossing, didn't expect the lights to change for me, but to my surprise they did! The correct option is a shared use pedestrian/cyclists lights are really slow to change, as well as needing to ride on shared use pavements which are narrow and slow on a road bike. The bus route is on smooth tarmac, you cycle straight up to and the lights went green. Significantly quicker, but alas no more.

posted by ChrizM [8 posts]
25th August 2014 - 19:34