Thursday 7 September 2017


So the new Eddington development is opening in West Cambridge. We had a chance to look around a couple of weeks back. It was still a bit closed off but there was a cycle route through.

It is great that there will be new cycle routes, completely separated from roads into town (through the Cambridge farm site?) and to the north west. And it's great to have a place where everything is so close. People are encouraged to make small trips and it looks distinctly difficult to do by car.

Whilst good work has been done to secure off-road space for people riding, it is quite compromised in places, and quite confusing in others. And that makes all the difference. Routes are only as good as their weakest point.

Here's the map of the site [PDF], which does look good, bar one striking point (below). The map descriptions look like they've done the right things. 

Eddington Map

However, when actually riding it on the ground, several issues appear that are completely different to the map.

1. "Shared Pedestrian/Cycle Network". This is really not clear at all. Surface separated (by a thin kerb) and marked as separated. Some signs say different, some a few metres away confirm the surface layout. People will see it as the surface is laid out, segregated, it's a much stronger indicator.
2. The resulting segregated areas are narrow. Even if the whole space were shared, it's still narrow, but not by much. Even if the space is legally defined as shared, it's still not going to be the way people see it, creating conflict between walking and riding.
3. It doesn't come out to the road fully at Huntingdon Road, there are clear signs prohibiting riding, differing from the map's diagram.
4. It doesn't have priority of side roads (like Five Acres), differing from the map's diagram.
5. The long straight roads encourage speeding, even if narrow in places. This is something that seems completely at odds with other new developments.
6. This is a through route for people in cars. If I were commuting from North of Cambridge, I've suddenly got a route that takes me to the Madingley Road Park and Ride. The queuing traffic for this place from the south is pretty bad. Isn't this going to create another queue form the north?

Huntingdon Road: surface arrows suggests people should cycle onto the pavement here

Huntingdon Road: signs (other side!) says you can't cycle on the pavement here

No side road priority next to Eddington Avenue

Segregated sign on Turing Way, not shared use space

Two different signs close to each other saying different things

So, why haven't we learnt from previous developments on these issues. It's not like we don't have great examples not very far away.

Just half a mile south of here, on the West Cambridge cyclepath (to Coton), there's a great peice of Pedestrian/Cycle infrastructure. A large kerb, clearly defined space for people walking and riding. And, the really silly things is that it's only a little bit wider than the space given in Eddington.

I work around quite a lot, and see lots of different infrastructure in new developments. Every other new development I've been to recently (Cambourne, Hargate, Red Lodge, and more) have roads that change direction at least every 100 metres. Every time I drive there 20mph seems fast. So that's the speed I don't even want to exceed. We know that long straight roads means motor vehicle speed increases, making it awkward for everyone else to negotiate crossing or joining them.

Saturday 1 July 2017

#CamRideHome on 30.06.2017 The Rush Water Course and Trumpington Road Cyclepath Video

As planned, the June ride this year was to The Blue Ball in Granchester looking at a couple of sites along the way. And yes, I've spelt it deliberately like that.

And here's the video of the route!

##CamRideHome Does Cambridge North on 30.06.2017 (Go HD see * below)

0:12 Start up Laundress Lane
0:33 Through a poorly placed No Entry sign to get to two-way cyclepath
0:52 Onto Sheeps Green
1:03 Progress temporarily halted by boggy bit
1:16 The newly rejuvenated "The Rush" stream
2:27 Simon goes for a paddle which interests the locals
2:57 Back onto Fen Causeway shared-use path
3:15 Onto Trumpington Road shared-use path, lane opposite not yet finished
3:25 Floating bus stop still being built
3:45 Onto cyclelane from new crossing place
4:00 Up ramp to shared-use path, is it all the way?
4:22 A little known shared-use path to St Faith's School
4:52 Over and up Lathams Lane
5:25 Back onto the Coe Fen
5:52 Brief rain coat stop
6:19 Simon's bike decides to stop
7:25 Turning over the field to The Blue Ball

So we spotted a No Entry sign that's to stop people cycling and driving the wrong way down Malting Lane. However, it also covers the entrance to the two-way shared-use path along Church Rate Walk.

The first main site was on Sheeps Green. In March they renewed The Rush water course by adding in rocks and building the banks with logs and hazel. It looks like it really does rejuvenate the stream, and I spotted an Egret at the bottom pool. I do find it a little incongruous to have rocks in a stream in a flat, fen area, but it does make the stream work.

UPDATE: More video here.

The second site is the new cyclepath along the east side of Trumpington Road. This change gets rid of the awful doorzone cyclelane and connects to the Brooklands Avenue cyclepath enabling loads of local school kids to avoid the busy main road entirely. Here's Mike Davies talking about the scheme.

We do note that the west side of the road still needs completing as they intend to widen the offroad route. Also, the floating bus stop area isn't yet complete, that should improve it even more. Let's see how the end of Bateman Street works, with loads of school traffic coming out in busy times. It's good to see that they have already removed the railings on the west side shared-use path, there's now a lot more space.

At the end of these sights of sites we'll take a leisurely ride across Granchester Meadows to the delightful little independent Blue Ball pub with it's excellent atmosphere and great beers. Simon's bike decided to give us a little fun as we almost get onto Grantchester Meadows. And we were shamed that none of us were carrying spanners!

* How to go HD.

Sunday 25 June 2017

#CamRideHome on 30.06.2017 The Rush Water Course and Trumpington Road Cyclepath

So for the June ride this year we are making our way to The Blue Ball in Granchester seeing the sites along the way. And yes, I've spelt it deliberately like that.

UPDATE: Video and story here.

The first site at The Rush on Sheeps Green where in March they renewed the water course by adding in rocks and building the banks with hazel. I remember seeing the work taking place and thought it well worth a look to see how this improves the widllife habitat [PDF].

The second site is the new cyclepath along the east side of Trumpington Road. This change gets rid of the awful doorzone cyclelane and connects to the Brooklands Avenue cyclepath enabling loads of local school kids to avoid the busy main road entirely. Here's Mike Davies talking about the scheme. We can note that the west side of the road still needs completing as they intend to widen the offroad route.

At the end of these sights of sites we'll take a leisurely ride across Granchester Meadows to the delightful little independent Blue Ball pub with it's excellent atmosphere and great beers.

Monday 29 May 2017

#CamRideHome Does Cambridge North on 26.5.17

For the Bank Holiday weekend, #CamRideHome explored the new North Cambridge station, the supporting cycle infra, and some useful links in the locality.

And here's the video of the route, with pictures along the way!

##CamRideHome Does Cambridge North on 26.05.2017 (Go HD see * below)

0:12 Setting off
0:22 Small child behind parent (wrong way round!)
0:47 Park Terrace cycleroute
1:08 Turning down Mud Lane to wiggle through to the Grafton
1:47 Heading across Midsummer Common and up the river
2:25 Past a busy Thirsty bar
2:58 Using new Water Street cyclepath and river path to get down Fen Road
3:30 Turning into Moss Bank and through to the new connection to the station
3:46 The station and cycle parking appears, some desire lines are going to take riders wrong here
3:55 Up the Guided Busway cyclepath, with connections to the left
4:25 Down into the underpass to get round, this may change
4:41 Turning down the Cowley Road cyclepath, without any connections to the businesses here, sigh
5:19 Back to the station
5:39 Second time through, taking the link to Nuffield Road
5:44 Turning down Discovery Way to go through Bramblefields Nature Reserve
6:08 Heading along Bourne Road and a cut through to Anglers Way
6:23 A missed cycle cut through to Franks Lane
6:35 A brief stop to look at the floating bus stop on Green End Road
7:03 Turning along a brief section of cyclepath on Milton Road
7:25 A final cut through from Warren Road to Eastfield
8:00 Finishing with a pint in the Haymakers

* How to go HD.

Tuesday 11 April 2017

Green End Road

This is a notoriously bad space for people riding bikes. It's always made me feel nervous on it, and I'm quite an experienced, confident rider. Quite how anyone who's not confident is meant to use it is, well, reason to upgrade the space!

So, I was really pleased to hear that there was a plan to do this, and really pleased to start seeing paintwork appearing. My assumption was that it'd be a high quality physically segregated build, putting into practise what was learnt through the Hills Road and Huntingdon Road developments.

I'd not been up it in a while and was very disappointed when I did. All that's been done is a low grade, just paint, adaption of the road space. This will do nothing to improve the road space for riding.

We should have learnt, from Cherry Hinton Road, from Milton's Cambridge Road, and many other places, that a simple paint job doesn't protect people riding in the slightest. People regularly just drive along in the cyclelane.

It's even likely to make the space MORE risky to people riding. People driving sometimes think a cyclelane is a separated space, as this PR disaster from Sainsburys shows. And this leads to horribly dangerous close passes.

The reasons for Highway Code Rules 163 and 213 do not suddenly disappear when a cyclelane appears.
"give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car"
"Motorcyclists and cyclists may suddenly need to avoid uneven road surfaces and obstacles such as drain covers or oily, wet or icy patches on the road. Give them plenty of room and pay particular attention to any sudden change of direction they may have to make."

Anyway, how does the space work on Green End Road? Let's take a look at a few of my experiences from the road. Note that these aren't rare events, they are quite regular.

Go HD see * at bottom

Open in YouTube

So, these new lanes are an unfortunate backwards step. I'd recommend that people ride centre lane & ignore them. It's likely some people driving will take exception to this and hassle people riding to be out of "their space". That's still preferable to having them ignoring you completely, close passing, not quite judging it to the millimetre, and clipping you. And that could be with you anywhere in that cyclelane.

Sadly yet more infrastructure that doesn't learn from the Goverment guidelines and training about how to ride a bike.

* How to go HD.

Tuesday 4 April 2017

Back Out on the Hildersham Circuit



So, I work outdoors with bikes. Yee haa! Lucky me!

However, this isn't all the roses and happiness it can be. Sadly, over the winter term, I'm really rather reticent to spend my weekends going outdoors very much. Whilst friends are shooting off for a good time in fields and on tracks, I'm sat there going "No thanks, just done that for the past five days".

Then Spring comes along and all that "stay in" feeling disappears. This weekend was very much that time. The blooms where blooming and the blossom, er, blossoming. It was time to be outdoors on my bike for the fun of it!

I usually end up on a simple 20 mile circuit to the south of Cambridge. Luckily, there's plenty of decent off-road routes, bike paths, and (at worst) quiet roads. I get down as far as Hildersham on my way dropping through Cherry Hinton and Fulbourn on the way there, then Abington and Babraham on the way back, This time, I had the new Babraham Institute path in mind, rather than Stapleford and Shelford. It's more direct and I wanted to find out what it was like.


So the clip starts near the station on Hills Road (and ends in the same place!) and heads out through Cherry Hinton. The first bit shows how poor the station area has become with the new development. The cycle bridge is a welcome removal from that poor environment taking us over to Romsey Town and then on to the pleasantries of The Tins. A final wiggle through Cherry Hinton and we're on the cycle route to Fulbourn.

Path from Marmora Street

The Tins

After Fulbourn, it's up into the hills. Well, what counts for hills in these parts. They are still very pleasant with lots of people enjoying the outdoors, with all kinds of animals! The roman road of Worsted Street affords a great route south with stunning views over the landscape. Small hillocks dot the landscape, along with the odd majestic wind farm.

Daffodils south of Fulbourn

Horses on a Walk

Woody Worsted Street

Hildersham is a delightful little village, with a pretty bridge (and ford for over 12 tons) at the centre. And then the Pampisford Road round behind Abington towards Granta Park, which is pleasant enough. Then, a short section of unpleasant road, often with 1 or 2 cars only but doing 70mph, sometimes far too clsoe for no reason gets us to the footbridge over the A11.

Hildersham Bridge

A11 Bridge

And this is the one weak link here. It's a "converted" footbridge. It's a long distance up and down on very steep metal tracks. Not something I can do with a normal commuting load. The down section is just as difficult, as I can't brake even with walking the bike. I was working nearby recently, and simply had to drive because this isn't a choice when commuting. And sorry too that this blocks cargobikes, different ability bikes, young and old people, and anyone that can't hold onto a lot of weight.

A11 Bridge Path

Once in Babraham, turning left towards the Institute entrance felt odd, I'm used to heading to Sawston. Avoiding the narrowed spaces near the school is good though. And it's into the Institute!

I've done this in more detail here. The funny little start section is possibly good, not quite sure. I'd think it adds to the option if traffic is backed up on the main road, but does lose the priority as you come back out again. Then I was a little concerned about where to go. There were bike symbols on the road, but people ride into the Institute itself so didn't give me a strong feeling of going in the right dirction. Then, a sign appeared in the distance and helped guide across a rather odd "Stop" line and onto the path itself.

Babraham Institute Entrance

Access to Babraham Institute Path

The path was open, smooth, and thankfully not absolutely straight. It's not near trees, so root damage is unlikely. The park is quite pleasant to ride through and there's plenty to look at. Changing angles regularly helps that as well as to stop the boredom sinking in of constantly going in exactly the same direction.

Tree on Babraham Insitute Path

At the end, the route out to the cyclepath over the Magogs seems sensible. You have to cross the A1307 and having it just a few metres form the roundabout is fine. There is a central refuge, and thankfully it's not staggered the way town street designers get wrong.

Exit from Babraham Insitute Path

The path over the Magogs is, well, next to a busy road. It's pleasant enough when a Sunday, not quite sure how it'll be on a weekday. And, from this direction, it feels like quite a way up! It's really not very far up, totalling 45 metres, it's just it starts about a mile out and slowly ramps up. It feels like it's gone on for ages! Still, it's next to pleasant beech woods for the steeper second section. And also, there's all that potential energy to release on the way down!

Bench at theTop of the Magogs

Finally, the route into Cambridge has it's pros and cons. Whilst it's a good route as you start to come into town, you suddenly have to switch sides. Although there's a section around 200 metres long with cycle routes on both sides, it's just not long enough to find a gap. Getting onto the new Hills Road Cyclepath is great, although there's no guarentee it'll be clear, and you have to mix it again at the bridge.

Floating Bus Stop


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
00:32 Cycle Bridge
00:57 Marmora Path
01:07 The Tins
01:40 Cherry Hinton High Street
01:58 Fulbourn Cycle Path
02:27 Fulbourn
03:05 Babraham Road Avenue South
04:07 Worsted Street
05:01 Crossing the A11
06:15 Path to Hildersham (stunning views)
06:50 Hildersham
07:12 Crossing the A1307 to Pampisford Road
07:36 Abington
08:05 Granta Park
08:20 A11 Footbridge
09:00 Entrance to Babraham Institute
09:30 Crossing the A1307 to Cyclepath
10:39 Top of the Magogs
11:16 Back into Cambridge
11:49 Hills Road Cyclepath

The music is in sections too, all from the Film "Moulin Rouge" and they roughyl follow different areas of the video.

00:12 Sparkling Diamonds, getting out of Cambridge and through Fulbourn to open country
03:05 Spectacular Spectacular, riding up into the hills
04:12 Because we Can, riding along the off-road section and back towards Cambridge
07:40 Bolero, the Institute path and steadily getting back into Cambridge

* How to go HD.

Friday 27 January 2017

Exam Questions

So, AdExcel put a series of questions into an exam paper that are designed to imply people cycling cause pollution. Here is the central quesion, but there is more to it here.

The premise seems reasonable, until you think for about a millisecond. Wait, during a ten minute journey there's an average of 3 cars behind? No, sorry, not in any world I've ever experienced!

So, I thought we'd take a look at something that looks like reality a bit more. Here's a clip from a morning this week, showing traffic coming through Cherry Hinton into Cambridge.

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

At the start
0:42 From Perne Road
1:56 From Cherry Hinton High Street

So we'll start with some simple questions.
1. How many people riding bikes are holding up this queue of cars?
2. How many people driving cars are holding up other people driving cars?
3. How many cars are single occupancy?

And some answers, so those hard of analysis capabilities (like maybe some AdExcel exam setters) might keep up.
1. I'm hard pressed to spot a single rider holding anyone up here. The clip shows over a mile and a half of queuing traffic, without many people riding at all. And where there is the odd rider they aren't interacting with motor traffic at all.
2. Pretty much all of them.
3. The figure for rush hour traffic in Cambridge is 1.2 people per car (near the bottom of here). In other words, in every 5 cars there are 6 people. That's 4 cars with one person, 1 car with two.

Then, some more complex questions.
1. Speculate why there are jams like this if they are not caused by people riding bikes.
2. If we halved the number of people driving here, how much less carbon dioxide would be pumped into the air?
3. What do those people who would be driving do instead?

And again, some answers.
1. Well, this map shows the three jams in a bit more detail (in red/purple). They are coming up to intersections. That is, they are caused by two lines of traffic having to merge and/or manoeuvre around each other. So, it's all about people driving vehicles that are large enough to require management when they intersect. Not an issue that faces anyone on a bike.
2. I've not done the maths here. Anyone not think this number will completely overwhelm the number the AdExcel paper comes up with? It does make it look slightly ridiculous.
3. There are a number of pleasant parallel cycling routes (once I spotted a watervole!). I use them often (in reverse) when travelling under 10 miles. They are well used, yet have no jams.That's because the "vehicle" (bicycle) isn't large and doesn't require management when many come together.

It does beg the question, what is going on with AdExcel such that they decide to put this "alternate" analysis that implies an "alternate fact", where they could do some equally good maths that actually supports the real evidence.

* How to go HD.