There are new proposals from Cambridgeshire County Council to upgrade the junction where Gilbert Road meets Milton Road - you may recall this junction from earlier near-death experiences such as this one, and this one.
Its pretty obvious that we need to fix this junction - if you click on the first near death experience up there you can stroll around it on Google Maps. Its pretty damned awful whichever way you come at it - the cycle path disappears either side of the junction on Milton Road, with two lanes of traffic heading in to the city stuffed between the island and the railing I always expect some poor sod to be cheese grated by a car against the metalwork. Coming the other way, if you want to go straight on you have to cross a left turning lane of traffic, which as you'll see from the second 'oh crap I'm going to die' moment above is a real barrel of laughs.
Whats proposed then? Well we're losing the railings, which is a start. And we could see traffic reduced to 1 lane in each direction right at the junction - although I'm dubious about how that would work heading in to town where we already see cars illegally queuing back in to the bus lane, I don't get why they won't continue to do so. And we're getting ASL's with feeder lanes in both directions too, which will be handy in case we forget to hurl ourselves into the blind zones of HGV's without this handy prompt to do so.
|Gilbert Road/Milton Road junction plan - not entirely sucky.|
Shamelessly lifted from Cambridgeshire County Council Website.
Coming towards town (right to left on the above picture) is going to remain awful. Right turning cars will, as ever, stop in the junction area to turn, and drivers going straight on will swerve around them into the path of cyclists. Or, in other words, just when we need it the most we lose all protection. It would be better to use the space freed up by removing the railings, with a small amount of the road space, to give us continuous armadillo protected provision across the junction.
Coming out from Gilbert Road turning, it seems crazy that there's no direct route from the end of the on road cycle lane on to the shared use on-pavement facility. At present most kids hop off the road early, ride around the corner and on the shared use - if all the codgers seeing them had monocles you can be sure they'd all drop off in protest. So giving a drop kerb, losing a few feet of grass verge and a route on to the pavement here would make a heck of a lot of sense.
But just once in a while I like to pretend I'm a 'big picture' kind of guy. And thats whats missing from this plan - whats the big picture for Milton Road? It can't continue as it is, the shared use facilities are shocking, disregarded by most commuter cyclists - its a hostile, unpleasant route and we need a long term plan to turn the 75% approval for more road space for cyclists in Cambridge into a reality on key routes like this one. This doesn't take us towards fully segregated cycling on Milton Road. It arguably gives us a marginal gain, but I don't see it preventing the current issue of cyclists coming in to town bypassing the junction on the pavement.
So lets take a step back and ask what we really want for all of Milton Road - surely what we're after is a fully segregated cycle route along the length of the road, with the same priority over side roads as the road does. I would argue that this new scheme is tinkering around the edges - lets not try to make bad provision more palatable by blurring the edges like this. Lets ask what the big plan for Milton Road is - and if there isn't one, lets make one. And lets make THIS fit in to THAT.