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.