On the 13th of September 2016 Richard Preston, as the project manager for the Histon Road ‘City Deal’ scheme, invited local ‘stakeholders’ to a series of six design workshops to:
‘help inform and influence the design of measures to improve bus, cycling and walking trips along Histon Road’
‘challenge key aspects of the scheme ahead of any firm decisions being taken’
‘consider any necessary measures to mitigate the impact of the scheme’
The main issues for considerations are contained within the Interim Options Report (PDF, 44 KB)
The first Workshop scheduled for Monday 17th October 2016 focusses on the main road design considerations for Histon Road from Victoria Road to Gilbert Road.
Public health, safety and environmental concerns are paramount. It is hoped, as with the Milton Road scheme, that independent environmental and urban design consultants including architects are employed at every stage of the scheme. Regardless of the intentions of the WSP traffic consultants to establish their aims to improve transportation along Histon Road there is little to inspire confidence that their efforts will, in real terms, improve the lives of local people.
WSP address ‘pedestrian’ concerns thus:
‘To give greater priority to cycle and pedestrian movements across side roads and to create opportunities for localised street scape enhancement
To replace aging signal equipment and to enhance the convenience of transverse cycling and walking trips
It is expected that most footway surfaces will be disrupted by construction work and utility service diversions which creates the opportunity to strengthen and resurface footways to achieve a higher standard of finish to improvement conditions for pedestrians, particularly those with less/limited mobility’
Local councillors have expressed a need for ‘greening’ along the FULL length of Histon Road:
‘Recommends mature tree planting and green landscaping will be implemented and integrated alongside the carriageway along the full length of the road, reflecting and improving the existing public amenity.’
Residents should further be afforded the opportunity to view and comment upon proposed designs, materials and landscaping.
Enhancement of the junctions and streetscape around the Histon Road shopping parade at the Windsor Road/Histon Road junction.
Histon Road Cemetery provides a green lung and focal point for residents and should be sympathetically augmented by any road scheme or urban landscaping.
Installation of a road crossing close to the passageway alongside Bermuda terrace. This is a popular and well used ‘desire line’ for pedestrians and cyclists in each direction.
Late night weight restrictions on heavy vehicles using Histon Road in the same manner as Victoria Road.
Read public responses to the ‘City Deal’ proposals for Histon Road here.
Victoria Road Closure.
In order to alleviate congestion and smooth the flow of busses it has been proposed, somewhat controversially, to regulate the flow of traffic into Victoria Road from Histon Road in both directions. This may include restrictions and potential closure. A redesign at the Histon Road/Victoria Road/ Huntingdon Road junction will have major ramifications for all road users including local residents and businesses.
According to WSP:
‘Despite a generally negative response, it is felt that the access restrictions at the Histon Road/Victoria Road junction are pivotal to achieving reliable and reduced bus journey times and improving conditions for cycling. Therefore these measures should be retained in the designs.’
Local Cambridge Labour Councillors support the Victoria Road closure with some reservation and that the proposals require:
‘ further modelling of the proposed permanent closure of the Victoria Road junction to vehicles other than buses and cycles turning left into Victoria Road from Histon Road and turning right out of Victoria Road into Histon Road, including the option of free vehicular access outside of peak hours.’
According to WSP’s interim report:
‘The idea of removing carriageway parking on the southern section of Histon Road has received a reasonable level of support although it would impact on some local residents and businesses. Therefore, it is considered that this idea should be developed further for future consultation, including parking management proposals to mitigate the impact on current users.’
The ‘support’ to which WSP refer to in their report (‘57% in support, 31% opposed‘) is based upon the response to their public consultation from all respondents and not necessarily from those that currently make use of the residents parking provision.
The issue of vehicular parking and/or access arrangements for residents has arisen with some regularity. It is the County Councils policy to manage the parking provision according to the needs of local residents and businesses. The most recent public consultation (early 2014) by Cambridgeshire Council Highways Services confirmed by a majority view the retention of the current parking arrangements.
In response to the City Deal consultation local Councillors have stated:
‘The narrow and primarily residential nature of this section of Histon Road is better suited to advisory cycle lanes and the retention of on street parking, albeit during off peak hours’.
Off peak parking for residents and businesses would potentially mitigate the current proposals put forward by WSP.
Cycling provision and speed reduction
The WSP proposals are as follows:
‘Consideration given to using 1.5m advisory cycle lane in either direction – however, this would leave only 5.4m for both traffic lanes. One of the design principles for this scheme is that the minimum traffic lane width should be 3.0m. Further investigation is required to determine whether a 5.4m carriageway for traffic would be acceptable. Further investigation to be given to requirement for/type of speed reduction measures needed to compliment current proposals as to use in combination with 1.5m advisory cycle lanes & 5.4m carriageway.‘
These reflect the position expressed by the Cambridge Cycling Campaign in their response to the City Deal ‘Consultation’:
‘Aldi to Victoria Rd: we accept 1.5m advisory lanes on both sides due to limited width. Speed limit here should be 20mph to reflect increased risks to people cycling due to proximity to traffic.’
‘Advisory’ cycle lanes are in themselves an unsatisfactory solution. Separation from traffic is essential to provide a safe environment suited to all cyclists. Compromise on such a new scheme is an unacceptable solution.
A traffic speed reduction is also suggested for this section of Histon Road by the local pressure group Smarter Cambridge Transport:
‘Where the cycle lane is adjacent to the carriageway, the road speed limit should not be more than 30mph, and not more than 20mph where the cycle lane is less than 1.5m wide.’
Local residents cycle in large numbers. However their routes or ‘desire lines’ follow a whole variety of pleasant local paths, parks and side roads either side of Histon Road.
Cycling provision within Cambridge should, rather than promote piecemeal solutions, focus funds on supporting safer more inclusive cycle routes.
A reduction in traffic speed is desirable regardless of the cycling issue.
There is little to differentiate, in real terms, the Southern stretch of Histon Road from Victoria Road. It remains a narrow street composed in the most part of older style Victorian residential houses and falls, in part, within the Castle Hill Conservation Area.
The Aldi ‘junction’.
The Aldi supermarket is a popular destination for both local people and residents city wide.
Increasingly there is a cause for concern. The cluster of businesses situated in the location has created a hive of activity. Pedestrian safety is increasingly compromised.
Given the proximity to turnings and space available there appears to be some difficulty in installing a pedestrian crossing close to the Aldi. However WSP, in their interim revision report have said : ‘This idea will be explored as part of the next design stage’.
There are no bus lanes planned for Histon Road South of Gilbert Road. However this particular subject is likely to be a bone of contention for later Workshops.
Design Workshop schedule:
Monday 17th October 2016 – Workshop 1A Victoria Road to Gilbert Road
Monday 31st October 2016 – Workshop 1B North of Gilbert Road to Kings Hedges Road
Highway and main junctions design considerations. Bus lane lengths.
Monday 7th November 2016 – Workshop 2A Victoria Road to Gilbert Road
Monday 14th November 2016 – Workshop 2B North of Gilbert Road to Kings Hedges Road
Detailed design issues: Side road junctions, bus stops, landscape materials,
local traffic/parking issues, crossings,drainage, street furniture.
Monday 28th November 2016 – Review Workshop
Key Elements i.e. Victoria Road junction. Bus lane.
Monday 5th December 2016 -Mitigation Workshop
Local parking issues.
All workshops are conducted from 18.30 to 21.00.
For further information please contact either:
James Rickett or Lillian Rundblad