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Cambridge city councillor calls for consultation on reducing speeds on guided busway after cyclist's death

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The guided busway. Picture: Keith Heppell
The guided busway. Picture: Keith Heppell

Cllr Katie Thornburrow said reducing speed on key stretch would only add three minutes to journey time

Stagecoach East managing director Andy Campbell
Stagecoach East managing director Andy Campbell

A Cambridge city councillor wants a formal consultation process to begin over reducing speeds on the guided busway.

Trumpington Labour councillor Katie Thornburrow, who is a member of the south area committee, has already held talks with Stagecoach boss Andy Campbell over a speed reduction, and her suggestions were vetoed by the county council because of the impact it would have on the bus timetables.

Her call for slower speeds comes after the death of cyclist Steve Moir on the guided busway at Long Road, south of Cambridge Assessment where he worked. His death is now being investigated by the Health and Safety Executive.

Cllr Thornburrow said: “I spoke to Andy Campbell and went to see him at Stagecoach and I asked him whether something could be done to reduce the speed of the buses and he said they were restricted to going below the statutory speed limit.

“He said he was under obligation to deliver on a standard of service. I also met with highway safety officials and we walked from Clay Farm up to Cambridge Assessment and again I asked if we could reduce the speed limit to 20mph and, if not 20, then 30mph. I had done the calculations that if it was reduced to 20mph it was going to add three minutes to the journey time from Clay Farm to the station.

“It would be one minute extra if it was reduced to 30mph. They said that currently it was not possible to do but that it could be kept under review.

“What I would like to do now is reach out to the bus companies and ask them to just slow down. At the moment they are travelling within the statutory speed limit but they could choose to slow down.

“Maybe there needs to be a proper consultation process to reduce the speed. It is an urban setting and generally in Cambridge we are reducing vehicular speed and a lot of roads are 20mph now.

“There should be enough flexibility to add three minutes to a trip, it is not a great deal of time.”

Cllr Thornburrow believes the added time could go so far as to save someone’s life.

The busway speed limit at Trumpington Park & Ride is 30mph while it is 53mph in the countryside.

Mr Campbell, managing director of Stagecoach East said: “Stagecoach is not able to comment further while the HSE investigation is ongoing.”

The issue of speed om the busway has been on the agenda for months.

Mintues of a south area committee meeting on April 23 noted “concerns raised about cyclist and pedestrian conflict around the entrance to the Cambridge Assessment Centre”.

Independent councillor Donald Adey - who now lives in Fife, Scotland, but refused calls to stand down from the city and council council - was asked to investigate the issue.

Then, speaking at the south area committee on June 4, Cllr Thornburrow said she thought fences should be put up to keep cyclists and pedestrians on the path separate from the buses that use the busway on the stretch south from the city railway station to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Trumpington Park & Ride.

Cllr Thornburrow warned that buses went quickly on that stretch of busway, and it could be dangerous if people swerved onto the tracks by mistake or fell.

A week later, on June 11, a 39-year-old pedestrian needed hospital treatment after being clipped by the wing mirror of a bus close to Long Road.

Cllr Thornburrow met with the county council to discuss the issue, and safety measures including installing warning signs, lower fencing and extra road markings were agreed for the stretch, with the final works expected to be completed in October.

Liberal Democrat city councillor Zoe O’Connell also successfully called for the speed limit at the junction outside Cambridge Assessment reduced to a 15mph zone last year.

Now, following the death of Mr Moir, there will be renewed focus on ensuring safety on the busway although the cause of the crash is not yet known.

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