A road upgrade project in Cambridge which cost £24 million is to be reworked after users of the route pointed out how narrow the pavement is in places, raising concerns about access for disabled people and risk of collisions involving cyclists using the adjacent cycle lane.
The project undertaken by the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) — an organisation which includes the city and county council, as well as other bodies — saw the road redesigned, with a segregated cycle lane and bus lanes installed, the partnership says to offer "improved walking and cycling infrastructure to enhance public transport and active travel journeys".
However, project manager Tom Porter has admitted to the BBC that the pavement is "too tight" at some points and said "we're going to rectify it".
[Councillor Delowar Hossain]
The scheme's issues were highlighted by locals who pointed out the placing of lampposts on the already narrow footpath, plus other skinny sections, makes the route dangerous for pedestrians, with particular concerns that users could be hit by cyclists using the cycle lane that runs next to it.
In places the footway is just 90cm wide, Conservative councillor Delowar Hossain calling the path "too narrow and dangerous" and accusing the partnership of wasting money.
"They showed pictures before of the street and the reality is, it's not the same. Telegraph poles are in the middle of the footpath. Whoever designed this didn't do the work properly," he said, referring to the artist's impression of what the scheme could look like [below].
The chief executive of "everyday walking charity" Living Streets too has criticised the lack of consideration for pedestrians, particularly those with mobility issues or young children.
"It is vital that people walking or wheeling have enough space to do so safely – we want to see paths at least 1.5-2m wide. This allows for wheelchairs or buggies to pass safely," Stephen Edwards said.
"It is important to ensure that people walking have adequate safe space, free of clutter, and aren't forced to put themselves into the potentially dangerous way of oncoming cyclists."
[Councillor Delowar Hossain]
Those sentiments were echoed by local resident Paul Raeburn who said the "obstacles" and "street furniture" make things difficult for the elderly and those using mobility aids.
And while the project's manager Mr Porter says it is "just not a feasible prospect" to move utility boxes "for the sake of a couple of hundred metres", he did accept that the central kerb would be moved slightly to accommodate the changes.
"We are aware that this section is too tight and we're going to rectify it," he said, with the worst-offending obstructive street furniture already being moved. He insisted the scheme was designed within the "constraints of the highway and the highway boundary" but accepted some items were "particularly obstructive".
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.