There seems to be a huge amount of interest, well in the Cambridge area, in the non availability of the Cambridge Guided Busway - which I've decided to call "FLOODGATE" - yes you heard it (the name that is) here first. Today the Cambridge Evening News has published a story in which "Council blames contractor for guided bus delay" with more details to emerge in the paper tomorrow. According to the story based upon document released by the council there is a disagreement about the state of completion. One man's defects are another mans opportunity to earn more money perhaps. I have had a quick look on the web to see if I could find the document - but searches based upon the words "Cambridge Guided Bus" throw up over 1.4 million hits although this narrows down to 14,100 if the word "bus" is replaced with "busway" in the previous search. According to the news report one of the issues is to do with the flooding of the maintenance/cycle-path/path and rather worryingly the Busway Foundations!
What the search does throw up is some interesting sites focusing on the CGB - www.noguidedbus.com gives a hint as to the author's views. A lovely picture on today's pages (9th march 10). :-) Another www.castiron.org.uk also gives an interesting point of view. What is interesting is that quite a few of the negative predictions do seem to have come to pass. What is worrying is that the completion seems to be in free-fall...
Having contributed to this development as a Taxpayer - I would like it be be used and not a white elephant - I would also like to be able to cycle alongside it without having to paddle. In fact I would like to see the cycleway given a decent surface to encourage more people to cycle commute into Cambridge. When I lived in Willingham and used to cycle a round trip of 28miles in the summer (most days) - it was really very pleasant, but all or nothing. The CGB when it is working will allow mixed cycling/bus use. The bus and cycle route could complement each other. Not that I am holding my breath on it happening though.
I had a meeting in Cambridge today with someone coming up from London by train - so I took a slightly loopy route past the airfield and back down Tins Path and then onto a route parallel with Mill Road and over the cycle/pedestrian bridge to the station. I arrived early though - why? well if you have ever tried to park a bicycle at the railway station you'll know that it can be quite time consuming.
There are three separate areas for cycle parking at the station, one alongside Station Road, seen here. As you can see it is pretty jam packed. I have had a bike stolen from this cycle park a few years ago and so tend to avoid it. I assume a van parked down the bottom and someone hopped into the area and then broke a bunch of locks and nicked the bikes. I don't know if mine was the only one stolen, but I have heard reports of them being stolen by the van load.
The second area - right in front of the station around the trees looks similar. There are more than two bikes per stand and it can be quite hard locating you bike when you've been down in London all day. This area does appear to be overlooked by security cameras. (The previous area might also be - I did not check). In the background you can see a yellow digger - this is working on the CGB route down to Addenbrooke's Hospital. Who knows they might finish this bit before they open the Cambridge to St Ives route.
The third area is on the public car park. and provides "covered" parking - what mod cons ay? I parked my bike in this one today - as I passed some else was "un-parking" their bike. There was a space, but it had other bikes parked oddly alongside and so was tricky to get the bike into and out off. Which is probably why it was available. You might notice that there are reserved parking spaces here. When I cycled into the car park at around 9.15am there were a few car spaces left as well. You can see here that a whole bunch of cyclists had relented and left their bikes free-standing but locked up alongside the wall. When you have a train to catch it can be quite tricky finding a space.
There was also a handy sign giving advice on cycle security posted near the entrance. I had not realised that I was supposed to remove all removable parts and take them with me, including wheels and quick release saddles. How remiss of me - although to be honest I would find it easier to take my Brompton cycle in its entirety folded than carry a saddle and a couple of large, dirty wheels onto the train. I can't say I've noticed many such wheel carriers on the trains either.
Although there is another piece of advice to lock both the wheels and frame to the stand - perhaps bicycle wheels have quantum properties and their exact position is uncertain. The other bit of advice I have not taken before is that I should also use two good quality locks and spend at least 20% of the value of the bike on security devices.
It takes long enough finding a space to lock the bike up in, if every time I had to take the wheels and saddle off, put two locks onto the bike and vice versa at the end of the day I'd miss more trains than I do already (Which is not many really). At least the area with the sign has CCTV - probably to ensure the sign is not taken.
Am I wrong? - I find it somewhat obnoxious that cycling customers of the trains are treated in this way.
I did not take pictures of every single bicycle not locked to a stand - but here are a few - they don't seem to have read the advice do they - only one lock each - but the wheels aren't quick release so it would take a spanner to steal them - mind you you could only take one of each bike as they front of the left bike and the rear of the right bike are locked to their respective frames. Perhaps 20% of the cost of the bike would only stretch to one lock?
This bike has also seen better days - which is perhaps again the reason for only having a cheap lock.
I think that there is a certain amount of poetic justice here with the Car Parking sign providing one bike with a place to lock up to.
This is Cambridge - a place that many other cyclists in other towns probably think is a great place to cycle. It is pretty good 0 but as you can see from there pictures much more needs to be done. The Council wanted £500M from government to reduce congestion - for a start they ought to do something where there is proven demand from non-car users. I realise it is easy to say - but there are issues of land ownership and cost - but if the Council can have a Guided Busway built surely improving cycling facilities where there is real demand should be possible.