I got to wondering about road space at junctions in Cambridge today, and why it is that we're given so little of it.
I was actually at the junction of Chesterton Lane and Magdalene Street. I was about third in the queue of cyclists, with another half dozen or so waiting, all crammed in to a narrow bike lane. The traffic to our right was of concern - some cars going straight on, a bus behind me with most of the cyclists waiting behind... I could count half a dozen motorised vehicles including a bus and a dumper truck.
So the cyclists outnumbered the other vehicles by two to one. All stuck in a cycle lane approximately 1.5m wide - with the other vehicles taking up a lane thats about 2.5m wide. So, crudely speaking, if everyone were lined up there would be 12.5cm per bike, and nearer 42cm per motorised vehicle. So the cars and vans are worth about three and a half times what the bikes are worth, just considering road space. This is pretty typical of bike commuting in the middle of Cambridge. Seriously.
But its worse than that - the bike lane is way over on the left, there is no advance stop line. And naturally while much of the traffic goes straight on to Northampton Street some will turn left. Crudely 1 in 5 of the vehicles waiting to turn left actually indicate to do so while queuing at the red light - so if you're cycling straight on its a lottery. And don't even think about turning right and heading up Castle Hill - there is no route to get there from the cycle lane. It can't reasonably be done; the space we've been allocated is inadequate for safe riding.
Think we cyclists are hard done to? Try crossing there as a pedestrian.
Want to make Cambridge cleaner, safer, quieter, more friendly and basically better for all who use it? It ain't hard. You won't be seriously inconveniencing anyone in a car by prioritising safety and convenience of cyclists and motorists, their journey times are really governed by how many other cars are waiting at the next red light, and the one after that, and the one after that. Don't give them extra lanes at junctions, make those junctions safe enough for everyone else. And quit pretending that on-street space should be handed over, for free or nearly free, for parking. You bought a car and have nowhere to store it? Well you should have thought of that before you bought it, shouldn't you?
The bottom line? We're still prioritising the convenience of motorists over the safety of cyclists and pedestrians. We're rationing safe road space to anyone who isn't protected by a metal cage - it turns out in Cambridge all the nice words spoken about cycling don't mean a damned thing and we're still not given safe facilities.