Motorist takes wrong turn onto Cambridge railway cycle bridge

Jaguar driver reverses after realising error; elsewhere in city, campaigners want 'cyclists dismount' signs removed at another bridge

by Simon_MacMichael   January 8, 2013  

Tony Carter Bridge, Cambridge (picture - John Sutton, Creative Commons CC BY-SA 2.0)

Concerns have been raised over the structural safety of a cycle bridge in Cambridge after it was heard to creak and crack when a motorist took a wrong turning and drove onto it in his Jaguar last Friday morning.

The Tony Carter Bridge, known informally as the railway cycle bridge, links Rustat Road to Devonshire Road and crosses the railway line at the northern end of Cambridge station. It was opened in 1989 and once held the Guinness World Record as the longest covered cycle bridge anywhere.

Cambridge News says that the motorist was able to drive onto the bridge from Rustat Road at its eastern end due to a missing bollard. Once the driver, a man believed to be aged in his 50s, realised his mistake, he reversed slowly back down the way he came.

The entire episode believed to have taken between 20 minutes and half an hour by one cyclist who witnessed it, Ruth Platt, who supplied pictures of the stranded car to Cambridge News.

“There were a lot of cyclists getting off and giving him a hard time,” she said. "He didn't hurt anybody, it was a genuine mistake – how somebody makes a mistake like that I don't know."

Initially Mrs Platt rode past the car before returning to ask the motorist, who acknowledged that he had made a “terrible mistake,” whether he needed any assistance.

Recalling what happened when the driver started revering his car slowly down the bridge, she added: "I could hear a bit of creaking and cracking. I hope the engineers made the bridge structurally strong enough for a car. A car is much heavier than any amount of bikes at any one time."

She said that the motorist drove his car so slowly that no-one else using the bridge was put at risk as he made his way back off it.

"I just felt really bad for him. He was not being arrogant. He was not thinking he could just take a shortcut. He really had made a big mistake."

Cambridge City Councillor Gail Marchant-Daisley, whose Petersfield ward is at the western end of the bridge, called for structural checks to be carried out and said: “The potential there for a fatal accident was clear.”

Meanwhile, Cambridge Cycling Campaign is calling for signs telling cyclists to dismount before using a footbridge elsewhere in the city to be removed, saying that they are advisory only.

The landlord of the Green Dragon pub, after which the bridge over the River Cam, connecting Stourbridge Common to Water Street, East Chesterton, is named, is opposing their removal, reports Cambridge News.

Writing in Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s newsletter, Jim Chisholm said:  “If you are considerate to those on foot at the ends, cycling over the bridge probably causes less congestion than walking with your bike.”

However, the Green Dragon’s landlord, Ronan McLister, told Cambridge News: “The cyclists do not slow down and you’ve got parents pushing prams along there. The cyclists rule the highways, they want to rule the pathways too.”

He added that he was also concerned about cyclists’ safety. “When it was icy, it was chaotic,” he explained. “One in three ended up on the floor in the middle of the road. That wouldn’t happen if they were walking their bikes. It’s only a matter of time before someone gets seriously injured.”

Bob Menzies, Cambridge County Council’s head of major infrastructure delivery, commented: “The footbridge is not a designated cycle path because of its narrow width and low parapets. Signs are there to advise cyclists to dismount before crossing the footbridge for their and other users’ safety.

“Working with the Cambridge Cycle Campaign we have identified that the main issue is in fact poor visibility on the approaches and we are now working with city council and local members to make the approaches better for all users.”

13 user comments

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Quote:
The cyclists rule the highways, they want to rule the pathways too.

Slight hyperbole perhaps?

djcritchley's picture

posted by djcritchley [153 posts]
8th January 2013 - 7:40

10 Likes

djcritchley wrote:
Quote:
The cyclists rule the highways, they want to rule the pathways too.

Slight hyperbole perhaps?

Next time someone cuts me up or pulls out in front of me etc I will shout, "You are disrespecting your ruler!". I am going to get arrested/sectioned am I not?

posted by SideBurn [873 posts]
8th January 2013 - 8:59

8 Likes

Get off my roads!!! Smile

Me, Myself and I

posted by phax71 [301 posts]
8th January 2013 - 9:20

11 Likes

djcritchley wrote:
Quote:
The cyclists rule the highways, they want to rule the pathways too.

Slight hyperbole perhaps?


You've heard of casual racism? Well that's casual anti-cyclist-ism. Perfectly acceptable it seems. Like being so absent-minded while in charge of a luxury automobile that you can drive on to a cyclist-only bridge and not notice until you are halfway across it. I do like the juxtaposition of the two stories as presented here though. I wonder which one the city's new Tory police commissionaire is most likely to bring up when he next meets with the chief constable?

posted by ubercurmudgeon [168 posts]
8th January 2013 - 9:24

7 Likes

Must have felt a right tool, poor fella! Wonder if the signage is obvious or whether it would be an easy mistake to make?

Last night I would have considered trading a very loud baby for a really nice bike.

posted by notfastenough [3466 posts]
8th January 2013 - 9:34

7 Likes

I take it that this wasn't filming a should have gone to specsavers ad then Nerd

posted by Super Domestique [1653 posts]
8th January 2013 - 9:47

8 Likes

Not quite sure how the jag driver made this mistake okay the middle bollard was missing but the other one differentiating the cycle path from the pedestrian pathway was in place which would make it a tight squeeze for a jag to go through and as you can see from google street view there are enough painted cycle signs on the path.

FATBEGGARONABIKE's picture

posted by FATBEGGARONABIKE [604 posts]
8th January 2013 - 10:56

6 Likes

Surely something for Cambridge Police to focus on in the light of the bad cyclist campaign, purely in the interests of balance? A task force to sort out car drivers using cycling facilities in their vehicles.

Hamster's picture

posted by Hamster [77 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:00

8 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Must have felt a right tool, poor fella! Wonder if the signage is obvious or whether it would be an easy mistake to make?

I last rode it in November and the signage seemed obvious, so this driver probably should be taken off the road before they hurt someone!

posted by a.jumper [723 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:04

8 Likes

notfastenough wrote:
Must have felt a right tool, poor fella! Wonder if the signage is obvious or whether it would be an easy mistake to make?

Google street view is posted on this blog: http://cambridgecyclist.blogspot.co.uk/2013/01/cycle-lane-hogging-cambri...

It's pretty obviously a cycle bridge. It's not just the signage, it's the colour and the width and the whole feel of the thing. Not to mention I'd think it was actually quite hard to maneuver on to it with a car given the width and the raised kerbs at the entrance!

There are some bridges in Cambridge where I always dismount because I think it's the considerate thing to do. Green Dragon bridge isn't one of them: it's short, not as crowded as some, and there is comfortable space to pass simultaneously provided people go slowly and are aware of others. The inconsiderate people aren't going to obey signage if it actually were illegal, and it would deprive decent cyclists of a valuable route. Plus, from memory, I've I feeling it only says dismount in one direction!

posted by HKCambridge [172 posts]
8th January 2013 - 13:59

9 Likes

Quote:
Plus, from memory, I've I feeling it only says dismount in one direction!

It does! One end is parkland, controlled by the City Council, who don't think there should be a sign, so there isn't one. The other end is on the roadside, and so is controlled by the County Coucil who think there should be a sign, so there is.

The advisory "Cyclists Dismount" sign is used is used in so many places where it would clearly be ridiculous to bother dismounting, experienced cyclists have been programmed to ignore them.

two wheels good; four wheels bad

posted by cat1commuter [1380 posts]
8th January 2013 - 18:10

9 Likes

Advisory "cyclists dismount" signs should be done away with altogether, they are a potential "road rage" hazard as not all roadway and footway users understand that blue signage means advisory.

onward ever onward

bikecellar's picture

posted by bikecellar [229 posts]
9th January 2013 - 10:13

9 Likes

White on blue rectangles are information, aren't they? I thought black on white were advisory.

posted by a.jumper [723 posts]
9th January 2013 - 21:09

7 Likes