The route south from Cambridge along National Cycle Network 11 makes a good commuter route for several villages to the south. The combination of separate active (not specifically cycling) infrastructure, quiet roads, some "converted" footpaths (as in with a sign only) make for an interesting mix. It's mostly good but there are some awkward bits where it's not really been thought through.
South Through the City
So this is south through the city, here's the part south of Cambridge.
- Main NCN11 in Cambridge (green on map)
- Alternative Route via the Railway Station (blue on map)
- Alternative using Hills Road (orange on map)
- Older NCN11 Link
Here's an interactive map (click to open).
And this is a picture map.
From the Senate House the route goes directly south along Kings Parade and turns out west through the Coe Fen. In connects up with Trumpington Road and wiggles through a residential area before getting back to the Guided Busway.
This seems like a long way round, and is the longest route here at 2.7 miles to the tunnel under Long Road. However, apart from the city centre and the residential area, both with minimal traffic, it is on separate active infrastructure. Yes, avoiding walkers and cows are part of the hazards, and the path width isn't great to start with. Both times crossing a road, there is a signalled crossing, although noting it's Toucan, so it's clear to cross if there's no traffic even if red. Despite being marginally the longest route this route took marginally the least amount of time.
Main NCN11 in Cambridge (music warning!) (Go HD see * at bottom)
0:00 Setting off (note slow speed of drivers)
0:21 Turning towards The Mill and Coe Fen
0:56 Crossing Fen Causeway
1:14 Wider path
1:34 Trumpington Road (care with side accesses)
2:15 Crossing Trumpington Road to Residential Area
2:56 Access to Guided Busway
And onto main route south at 0:35
Coming from the Senate House means similar city centre walkers of which to take care then mixing with moderate traffic for 300 yards until turning off onto Regents Terrace on the side of Parker's Piece. Crossing Gonville Place into the residential area south of Parker's Piece then leads to why this route is often called the wiggly route as it does go back and forth in several short streets. There's minimal traffic until getting near the railway station. There is a little link to avoid the station itself, going right directly after leaving Tenison Road and left at the end.
It is marginally shorter than the main NCN11 route at 2.6 miles. There are short sections of moderate traffic and a longer section of very low traffic. However, the two traffic lights, where stopping until green is mandatory means it surprisinly took longer than the main NCN11 route through the Coe Fen.
The Alternative Route via the Railway Station (music warning!) (Go HD see * at bottom)
0:00 Setting off
0:18 Traffic building
0:40 Turning onto Regents Terrace
1:00 Mandatory wait at lights
1:19 Wiggly residential route
1:37 Tenison Road and traffic building again
1:47 Alternative link through to the right
1:57 Bus Station
And onto main route south at 0:00
So starting from the Senate House as just above but sticking on Hills Road to straighten out the "wiggly route". At Brookgate, simply turn in left and right to get to the
Hills Road does have lots of traffic. There's a good cyclelane, although it's regularly abused by delivery vehicles (against the Freight Trade Association advice, PDF page 3), and it abandons people riding at junctions, just where it's needed most. As the shortest, straightest route at 2.3 miles it was the marginally the longest timewise. This isn't as suprising when noting the 4 traffic and 6 pedestrian lights on this route.
The Alternative Route using Hills Road (music warning!) (Go HD see * at bottom)
0:00 Setting off (from 0:40 on clip just above)
0:11 Close car pass (noting they still took the same time as me on Hills Road)
0:21 And back up to the front filtering on the right
0:23 Waiting at traffic lights
0:35 Into cyclelane
0:44 Overtaking slower rider (must look and move out of cyclelane)
1:16 ONLY wiggle through traffic like this if you know the junction timings well
1:19 Turning into Brookgate
And onto main route south at 0:00
Changed Route (purple/brown).
Finally, the map has the "official" NCN11 route (in purple) which goes along Long Road and through the hospital on Robinson Way before heading back out on Francis Crick Avenue. This is the pre-Guided Busway route. Now, this (in brown) is about the same distance and is completely separate active infrastructure, not sharing on hospital roads where speeding is endemic.
* How to go HD.