A cyclist in Cambridgeshire has had a very lucky escape on the county’s new guided busway, narrowly avoiding being run over by a bus when he took to it after finding the bridleway alongside it closed for repairs. The cyclist, reported to have been wearing headphones, jumped clear at the last moment, but his bike was crushed under the bus, forcing the temporary closure of the route, reports Cambridge News.
The incident took place on Saturday between Swavesey and St Ives, where resurfacing works are currently being carried out on the bridleway that runs alongside the busway, and caused bus services to be suspended for two and a half hours.
Much of the busway route already has a tarmac maintenance road, doubling as a cycle path, running alongside it.
Opened in August at a reported cost of £180 million - kilometre for kilometre, about a twentieth the cost of Glasgow's M74 Northern Extension unveiled earlier this year - the guided busway boasts the longest such track in the world.
In all, the route covers 40 kilometres linking Huntingdon and St Ives to Cambridge, including 25 kilometres of guided busway used by buses operated by Stagecoach and Go Whippet.
Once the specially adapted buses are on the busway, the driver does not need to steer with his hands, since guidewheels perform the steering function through engaging with the concrete kerb.
The standard speed on the busway is 90kph (56mph), reducing to 50kph (30mph) where it crosses the public highway.
Andy Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach Cambridgeshire, told Cambridge News: “A cyclist thought it was all right to travel down the busway even though buses are up and down there every 10 minutes travelling at 56mph. The driver approached and blew his horn to warn the rider but he had earphones in.
“As the bus got close he jumped off his bike and left the bike on the track and the bus ran over it, which caused a fault with the bus and meant we had to divert passengers back on the other side of the track and travel down the A14.”
Mr Campbell added: “To do it with earphones in so you can’t hear buses approaching is ridiculous.
“You wouldn’t cycle down the centre lane of the M1,” he added, a sentiment most would agree with although apparently not everyone.
According to BBC News, while the busway was undergoing testing in July prior to its coming into operation, a cyclist broke his leg after being struck by a bus between Histon and Oakington.
Although there is signage in place warning that the route is for buses only – something that hasn’t stopped confused motorists from ending up on it, according to this report – Mr Campbell said that it was “not unusual” for cyclists to be found on it and said that drivers had been subject to verbal abuse when asking them to move.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire County Council told Cambridge News: “Recovery operations swung smoothly into operation on Saturday and buses were running again within an hour on the busway.
“As planned buses were able to bypass the section of the busway while the vehicle was recovered and therefore meant services could continue.
“We would remind cyclists to use the cycleway and not the guideway,” he added.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.