Addenbrookes does make a lot more provision for people riding to the hospital than most. But it should.
Addenbrookes is a health provider, it should be seeking to help people develop a healthier lifestyle. And it's in the city in the UK with the highest cycling levels. It's already got a good user base (15 times the UK average), although there still should be a lot more cycling in Cambridge and getting people comfortable with a great healthy transport alternative should be the standard.
So, it's a little concerning that the provision is quite piecemeal. This is mostly down to sticking plaster solutions. Doing a little bit here, doing a little bit there, adding a bit here, changing a bit there.
Here I look at a couple of places in the centre of the hospital. This piecemeal approach is clearly shown by:
- stopping a shared-use route a few metres from the road it's going to;
- not signing the shared-use route because it doesn't go all the way;
- not putting enough cycle parking where it's needed;
- sticking plaster adjustments to old, unused routing;
- trackstand skills requirement to stick to cycle routing; and
- inconsistent signing all within a few metres.
The central experience
Of course this is in the middle of quite a lot of development. And there's a level of juggling about within tight spaces. I'd suggest the sticking plaster approach does nothing to help this. It's time someone took a big red pen to the layer-upon-layer map and drew a clean slate. I'd bet it'd work out better for all people coming to the hospital.
Now, wouldn't it be great if the planners would learn from their earlier mistakes and plan in cycleroutes rather than fixing it in later. Yep, that'd be great, it's a shame it's not happening.
This post about Francis Crick Avenue from a little while back shows the usual approach of skimping on as much as possible. Despite having a clean slate and acres of space, cycle routes are squeezed in on roads with drains, puddles, and rubbish. Not only that, the road is not designed to reduce speeds but encourages people driving to exceed the speed limit, thus making it really unpleasant on a bike. This seems to be a usual response to the hospitals roads. Other places realise that if you make straight roads speeding happens, if you make them twist and turn speeding doesn't. It has little overall effect on journey times, as it's simply rushing to the next junction, the real controller of average speeds.
One of the most damning indicators is on the new-ish Dame Archer Avenue which has a cycle route around the (pointless) lights (if you're on a bike*). This would seem good. But if there's space of a off road cycle route, why isn't it all the way long the road?
Again, routes from the hospital are good, but where the hospital has had control over the development the result has been very poor.
* Note that traffic lights are needed on a road to let two lines of motor traffic merge. If it were two lines of cycle traffic, would the lights be needed? No.