Closing Histon Road … it needn’t be that bad

Histon Road visualisationThe news that Histon Road is going to be closed for several months to inbound traffic whilst planned improvements for bus passengers, cyclists and pedestrians are implemented has caused some consternation. And so it might because such a long closure would cause chaos and inconvenience if its badly handled. But this need not be the case.

I’ve spent some time talking to the officer managing the project and outlined four key principles which should be followed so that the temporary arrangements during the closure can be a pathway to the improvements and not simply a mitigation of it.

That really must be an overriding principle viz people must see an advantage to catching the bus, cycling or walking straight away so that modal shift can be encouraged and rewarded from day 1 of the closure.

Before listing the four principles let’s be clear that this is a good project which will improve bus reliability, and make it much safer to cycle along Histon Road and easier and more pleasant to walk along it.

Principle number 1: the project must deliver improvements to the walking and cycling environment from day 1 of the closure. This should not be difficult because there will be no inbound traffic thus freeing up lots of road space. And let’s remember that we are not talking about bits of cycle path but a complete journey from north of the A14 to Castle Hill.

Principle number 2: there’s an opportunity to provide better bus services than we have today so we must do so. This means diverting the Citi 8 down the Busway and Milton Road and managing the bus lanes and traffic lights along the latter to get this service into Cambridge without undue delays. Furthermore it means implementing the clockwise circular route south of the A14 as suggested by Stagecoach and routing this through Orchard Park thus continuing the better connections which this community has experienced during the summer.

Neither of these is a given of course but we must do what we can to make them happen.

Principle number 3: we must get the signage right. It must be clear and unambiguous and it must be comprehensive so that people affected by the closure can readily understand what they must do instead.

Principle number 4: we must adopt a policy of continuous improvement. Even as we do the good things mandated by principles 1 to 3 let us be alert to improvements all the time and implement them if they have a short enough payback. Let’s not be so fixed on what we do first that we are blind to ways of improving it.

Click here for more information about this project.

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