A Dutch-style roundabout was given approval last week to improve a collision blackspot in Cambridge, in what local campaigners are calling a “step change” in standards for cycling infrastructure.
The radical transformation of the Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road Roundabout was proposed following 14 cyclist-car collisions in five years, along with improved cycle lanes on two of the roads leading to the junction.
The roundabout is part of an important route to local schools, Peterhouse Technology Park, Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Biomedical Campus, and the roads leading off the roundabout will see new cycle lanes too. Cambridgeshire County Council says the junction was a major barrier to cycling and walking, and says it will “achieve a very high quality design” as it finalises the details.
A Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson told road.cc they were given construction approval for the roundabout by the County Council’s Economy & Environment Committee last week.
"The roundabout has a poor safety record and is a major barrier for people walking and cycling in the area. The centre of the roundabout is so high that it is difficult to see over it - users have little time to see approaching vehicles.
“The tighter geometry of the new roundabout design should reduce vehicle speeds and new parallel crossings on the orbital cycle lane give cyclists and pedestrians priority at each arm,” said the spokesperson.
They said the detailed designs will ensure access to the orbital cycle lane at every arm, as well as diverting turning cyclists as early as possible so drivers can see where they are heading.
“We have an opportunity to work with the Dutch Cycling Embassy on the roundabout design – we feel confident that we will achieve a very high quality design by the end of it,” said the spokesperson.
In a Council consultation 67 per cent of respondents said cycling and walking improvements were needed on Queen Edith’s Way, with 32% reporting they felt unsafe cycling there, 7% very unsafe; while 24% felt safe, and 5% very safe
Among cyclists, 48% found the roundabout to be a “key safety issue”.
Directly above and below: The roundabout as it is now
Traffic speed and difficulty for pedestrians and cyclists to see approaching traffic when crossing the roundabout were among the top safety concerns raised. To address these problems, the turning circle for motor traffic is now tighter, with sharper angles at turnings. As in the Netherlands a cycle lane will run around the outside of the traffic lane, in this case separated by a grass verge, and motor traffic will give way to pedestrians and cyclists at each arm. Early designs also show a zebra crossing on each arm.
Cycle routes will lead East and West towards Hills Road and Cherry Hinton Road.
Two options have been proposed for each: on the route towards Hills Road a 2m wide raised cycle track, level with the pavement, is proposed, either with or without a grass verge separating it from pedestrians. Towards Cherry Hinton Road a 2m wide painted advisory cycle lane is proposed, also with or without a grass verge between it and the footway.
The Cambridge Cycling Campaign welcomed approval of the plans. A statement on its website said: “This is a very exciting moment for Cambridge and the UK and represents a step-change in the standard of cycling infrastructure.”
However, while the campaign welcomed the design of part of the cycle route, which will be raised to pavement level, it called a painted advisory cycle lane on Queen Edith’s Way “problematic”, and offering those cycling too little protection from traffic. According to council figures there have been 25 collisions involving a car and a cyclist on Queen Edith’s Way in the past five years, and the campaign has called on the council to rethink the painted lane.
This is not the UK’s first Dutch roundabout – one was built in Bedford in 2014. Another so-called “Dutch” roundabout, built in Cambridge in 2014, came under heavy criticism as instead of giving cyclists priority on the roundabout, as in the Netherlands, it required them to mount the pavement and give way to motor traffic at every junction. One week later a 12-year-old boy was injured at the site.
Cambridge’s Hills Road already boasts a protected cycleway, which was due to be completed in Summer 2016.
According to the Council local developers are contributing £3m to cycling and junction improvements on Queen Edith’s Way, Cherry Hinton Road and the Robin Hood junction.