Tuesday, 20 September 2016

A10 M11 Junction Paths

So as part of my cycle to work day (well, week, as that's where I was), I've looked at the full journey there and some relative speeds on the way back. Some people noted that I used the rather poor cycle infra that crosses the M11 at the A10 junction and pointed out that there's a much nicer way. And they are right!

So, here's a map of the area, showing the alternative.

On this map, the orange line is the narrow path next to the A10 road, which you can see either heading south from here (until 2:41, music!), or heading north from here (only to the roundabout, music!). The blue line is the new path round, set up across farm land as a proper cyclepath (not just a permissive path according to cyclestreets) and gets away from traffic going over a farm bridge just along from the main road bridges.

And here's the clip (music warning!) with a variety of start points which open YouTube in a separate window.
Go HD see * at bottom

At the start
0:08 Turning In
0:13 River Corner
1:04 Bridge Ramp (and stop spot)
1:24 Onto Separated Cyclepath (and Trumpington Meadows Park entrance on left)
1:38 Building Site Centre
2:02 Turning Out Across Road

So, which way's best? Well that depends on you!

So, I've favoured going along the narrow path next to the road. Essentially, it's just that bit shorter to make it worthwhile. It's 20% less distance, although it's not quite as much timewise as there's no need to wait whilst crossing M11 sliproads. Again, this is a short distance and it's not much time, but it's still more towards my feeling whilst I'm lugging a reasonable weight around along a 7/8 mile commute.

Yes, I'm crossing sliproads, which isn't too bad but does involve awkward observation and interaction with quick traffic. Also, I'm next to a noisy busy road all the way. And the grass significantly narrows the path (although interaction with other users seems to go fine). Finally, the layby is quikc awkward and I've experienced drivers putting their vehicles into the very narrow path. So there's a number of negatives.

So the quiet path round is, precisely that: quiet and around. It is quiet lovely down by the river, albeit quite a short section. Then it's very much up through rural scenery. Not beautiful, but quiet and pleasant. As you approach the M11 the route joins a farm track and has a stopping spot (an extension of Trumpington Meadows park?).

The farm track over the bridge is steep, and I'm always aware that farm traffic may be around. Coming off the bridge the route goes onto a separate track, something that may well indicate a level of farm and building site traffic nearby. There is the entrance to Trumpington Meadows park on the left, although it's not particularly inviting at this end.

So, to me, the quiet path is further, involves going more up and down, has a steep bridge, and could have some other traffic around on the same infra. It is generally quieter and potentially more pleasant, it's just not that much better to convert me.

I know people put some effort into getting this path and I get why some will like it, it's just not for me right now.

Now, there is something more to consider: where are people cycling to from here? Locally we have the hospital, the railway station (and rail corridor area), and the city centre are the three areas that spring to mind.

Looking at the map, the green routes show how to continue on separated infra to both the hospital and rail corridor area. There's a few poor links here. Having to go round the roundabout at the park and ride will put some off, although I find that traffic is slow here and it feels like crossing a road more than using one. Addenbrookes Road always seems like putting the cycle infra in last, the long way round, and not giving it any priority. However, it does get all the way, as long as you're happy to do a full loop round after the railway bridge.

Onto the city centre? Well, following the railway corridor route does get you going roughly in the right direction, but it's quite a long way round. The best current route (in red) sadly involves a too much sharing with busy traffic. There is a good separated route just north of Trumpington centre, just no way through to get to it (block in red).

However, there may be a longer term strategy in play here. The entrance to Trumpington Meadows park is the clue. This has cycle routes that continue on to the Grantchester Road. The meadows do continue on up to the city centre, with lots of space given over to open (permissive!) access land. There is the potential to use more farm tracks up the east side of the river (currently not in use) and connect into current cycle infra in the Latham Road area. However, there's some pretty obvious big places that might not like that. Hmm, what to do?

* How to go HD.

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