Embassy response to Hills Road/Huntingdon Road Cycling Scheme

The plains for changes to Hills Road and Huntingdon Road represent a promising step-change in the way cycling is designed for on main roads in Cambridge. The principle of separating cycle traffic from motor traffic on this kind of road is exactly the right approach.

However, we are concerned that the scheme will be let down by inadequate treatments at junctions, a lack of continuity and coherence, and a number of other important details being wrongly implemented.

From the video, the treatments with side roads do not look to be acceptable. We would recommend tighter geometry, and greater continuity, with the cycle tracks continuing at a raised level, alongside an unbroken footway that extends across the junction mouth. This would give both pedestrians and people cycling a greater sense of priority, and would also slow drivers as they turn up and over the cycle track and footway, across what is clearly a cycling and walking space. This should be the case whether the raised cycle lanes (effectively a cycle track) or the cycle track with greater segregation are employed. At the busier side roads the cycle track could be set back from the junction for safety, so that movements on and off the road, and across the cycle track, can be completed in two separate stages.

The bus stop islands are the right principle. They remove conflict between buses and cycling movements, ensuring that buses are not held up by cycle traffic, and also that people cycling do not have to negotiate out around stopped buses, which is unpleasant and dangerous. However the details need to be right. In particular we think the bus shelters should be on the islands, to minimise conflict across the cycle track when buses arrive. The islands should also be large enough to accommodate the numbers of people waiting for buses, without them spilling over into the cycle track. We would also suggest the use of informal zebra markings to give an impression of pedestrian priority across the track at the bus stops.

As for the form the cycle provision should take, kerb separation is preferable to a simple raised cycle lane. This need not require any more physical space. A kerb upstand with a sloping 45 degree kerb on the cycle track side would provide protection from the carriageway while allowing people to cycle right on the outer edge of the cycle track, increasing its effective width. The same shallow sloping kerb could be used to divide the cycle track from the footway, providing adequate physical separation, yet remaining forgiving. The width of the cycle tracks is also crucial. For much of the visualisation, there seems to be wasted carriageway space in the form of hatching markings. This could be used more profitably to create wider cycle tracks and footways, and larger bus stop waiting islands, and better crossing points for cycling, which don’t require perpendicular movements off the cycle track, as suggested by the video.

There are other problems, principally that barriers to cycling remain on this route. Most notably the Lawrence Weaver junction is unattractive. There must be a commitment to improve this junction, using signal separation of turning movements to ensure both objective and subjective safety. Equally we feel that the usefulness of the Huntingdon Road cycle track is very limited while it only runs in one direction. High-quality provision is needed in both directions for this to form a useful route

These are promising plans, but they need to be implemented properly, and need substantial further work for these roads to be truly inviting for cycling, for all.


Where this approach has been adopted in Manchester, there are very frequent problems with motorists stopping and parking in the cycle lane.  Once a cyclist is forced to leave the raised cycle lane due to obstructions it is often awkward to re-join the cycle lane (via a low angled kerb in this case); it can be hard to get a good angle back up the kerb onto the cycle lane without first swinging out further into the motor traffic.

The text comments in the video acknowledge this as a potential issue, and clearly describe this driver behaviour as illegal, but in Manchester the police have no interest since "parking is now a council issue" and the council do nothing about it.

I don't know who is responsible for parking issues in Cambridgeshire, but given the lack of enforcement in Manchester I would much prefer to see drivers physically prevented from entering the cycle lane in the first place.

Hence, I would agree with this response that kerb separation is preferable, as well as with the other comments in the response.

If there is a demand for parking then kerbs of whatever design (whether they are full height, half height, 45 degree jobs or whatever) present no obstacle whatsoever to motor vehicles - take a look at just about any residential street outside London and yoy will see cars cluttering up the pavement.  They do present a serious hazard to cyclists who will need to cross the kerb to get round the parked cars. To prevent cars parking you either need a stricter enforcement regime than Eric Pickles is willing to countenance - or something considerably more substantial than a kerb.