Cambridge

Planned cycle-priority roundabout could ’cause accidents’, says resident

A new Dutch-style roundabout is set to be built near Addenbrookes – but some fear it might be less safe than a design without cycle priority.

Cambridgeshire County Council has proposed the changes in a bid to improve road safety where Fendon Road meets Queen Ediths Way.

The design will give cyclists priority, meaning that vehicles entering or leaving the roundabout arms must give way to them.

The style, which would replace the current roundabout, is currently used in the Netherlands.

But a Dutch study suggests that this kind of roundabout might be less safe than those without cycle priority – sparking fears among Cambridge residents.

What are the concerns?

A Dutch report by The Institute for Road Safety Research highlights problems that have occurred with the cyclist priority design that has been proposed.

The figures, based on roads in the Netherlands, suggest that more incidents occured on roundabouts with cyclist priority than without.

Findings show that the without cyclist priority design was 87 per cent safer than an ordinary crossroads, whereas the cyclist priority design was only 11 per cent safer, as measured by injuries to cyclists resulting in overnight hospital stays.

The report gave figures for national injuries expected in the Netherlands for the two different types of roundabout.

If all roundabouts gave cyclists priority, the number of hospitalised casualties would be expected to be 61 to 85 people, while the figure for the design without priority would be just nine to 12 people.

Mark Lawrence-Jones lives in Queen Edith's Way and is part of the road's residents' association. He said: “I think the council have thought that because its Dutch it must be safe, but this is one of the roundabouts that research suggests is less safe and causes a lot of accidents.

“Theres going to be an awful lot of head swivelling of drivers going on because you really do have to look everywhere as its easy for cyclists to sail off in front of you when they have priority.”

The design includes a red cycle lane all the way around the edge of the roundabout, with cyclists segregated from motorists.

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What the council says

In response to the concerns, the Cambridgeshire County Council spokesperson, said: “The Fendon Road/Queen Ediths Way roundabout is an important route for both commuters and those on their way to school or college, and is a location that over recent years has experienced many collisions involving cyclists.

“The new roundabout scheme will improve safety in the area by giving priority to pedestrians and cyclists over motorists.

“Cyclists and pedestrians cross each arm of the roundabout by using a parallel priority crossing. This type of crossing was formalised for use in the UK from April 2016, and two of these are in place in Cambridge (Huntingdon Road, April 2016 and Arbury Road, September 2016). Both schemes have proved to be highly successful and more parallel crossings are planned for Cambridge.

“We have worked closely with the Dutch Cycling Embassy and Dutch designers Royal Haskoning to ensure a safe design is developed. We are also carrying out two stages of independent safety audits to review the design before it is constructed. This reviews road safety risks to all users.

“There appears to be some views from the Netherlands expressing concern around cycle priority at roundabouts, but there is no evidence of such roundabouts being changed or removed there.”

Cambridgeshire County Council was given £550,000 by the Department for Transport (DfT) for the project.

Work is due to start at the beginning of next year.

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