Note: I’ve got several issues to tell you about over the next few days, so apologies for filling your inbox; I don’t intend to be writing this much as a rule! – Chris
The Addenbrooke’s roundabout upgrade was approved by the city council’s planning committee on 1 April. As I wrote here a fortnight ago, the whole exercise was news to most local residents, as is typical with most council developments. I couldn’t report on it properly here, because I just didn’t know what was going on, and I’ve only since been able to piece together some of the story.
Those who did know about the scheme had a major job trying to understand the plans. However, one or two local councillors – such as Tim Moore – persevered, and seem to have worked hard to ensure that the redevelopment had a better outcome for local residents – and especially for anyone not approaching the hospital on four wheels. The councillors appear satisfied with the final design.
The original plan for the roundabout was to increase motor vehicle capacity. This would have been at the expense of cyclists, and would make life harder for pedestrians. That plan has now been completely revised, and the general feeling is that the new design, as approved, will now be better for both cyclists and pedestrians, at the expense of a small reduction in maximum traffic throughput.
Here’s the plan. You will see that there are signalised pedestrian crossings, with islands, on three of the four arms of the roundabout, with a further crossing a little way down Fendon Road (the fourth arm). The cycle lanes, originally slated for removal, will now remain, and there are advance stop boxes both on the roundabout itself and three of the access roads.
Click on the illustration for a large, high-resolution version.
During his presentations on the scheme, Councillor Moore showed that disabled pedestrians are currently unable to walk to the hospital because of traffic light timings that are too fast for them to cross (and most major roads do not have pedestrian crossings). We know that some 20% of the population has a disability, but this is much higher in those travelling to Addenbrooke’s. He also showed that people avoid the roundabout because it is perceived to be too dangerous, and has too many obstacles and hazards.
Councillor Moore says: “The hazards for those with visual disability are particularly numerous inside Addenbrooke’s where the routes are disconnected – not considered as routes, and clearly not thought of in terms of helping their staff, visitors and patients get to the main entrances easily and safely. I have been seeking funds to improve the Red Cross Lane entrance, as it is a major cycle route into the biomedical campus from the south and east, and was one of the better wheelchair routes to the hospital main entrance. I had hoped that this would stimulate Addenbrooke’s to think about a joined-up route. We explored existing routes all around, but excluding, the roundabout as relatively few people cross there.
“I think county officers (cycle and highways) pulled the original brief as a result. The next version of the plan involved keeping the car flows and pushing pedestrians through the centre of the roundabout. This helped neither cyclists nor disabled walkers. I helped orchestrate responses from local people with disabilities. The final plan, now accepted, took into account these comments, and several others I gave verbally, to produce the best compromise that I believe was possible.
“We are lucky to have some very good planning officers, and great disabled residents who are happy to talk with me.”
Explaining the history of this scheme, Councillor Moore says: “I think that the sequence probably started with the county council roads people seeing the opportunity to increase the flow of cars into the biomedical campus. Since the planning process was managed by the city council (with little understanding of the intricacies of the technical drawings involved), the initial outline plans were approved by the planning committee on the nod. To the credit of the planning officer involved, he recognised the lack of input from councillors, and was concerned about it. The county council road people clearly realised that their brief was not right when they heard me talk on several occasions. (This led to) a change in emphasis from cars to walkers and cyclists in the brief, my increasing connection to the planning application, and an agreement to re-examine this part of the outline plan.
“The reality of cyclists avoiding the cycle lanes, and using the pavement, has been acknowledged, and all relevant pavements will become dual use (a mixed blessing of course). Cyclist crush hazard railings are going. The proposed path through the roundabout centre has been dropped. And the fact that the roundabout is part of several important routes has been accepted. Once the remaining elements have been planned together, they will be considered once again by the county council and approved together.”
One of the ‘remaining elements’ is the Queen Edith’s Way/Mowbray Road/Fendon Road roundabout, which was also to be remodelled at this time. This has now been put off for further consideration, but will still be funded by developer contributions.
Full details on every aspect of the original and revised proposal can be read in this document here.