Monday, June 21, 2010

Recent Cambridge cycle news - mainly CGB - and still no pictures

Actually this is just a quick round up of various cycling snippets I have seen over the last few days. News reports on the Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB) are definitely like buses - they come along in threes. In fact it would seem that with the problems in completing the CGB and the disagreements between the Cambridge county Council and the Contractor - (BAM Nuttall) we, the public, are still no nearer to knowing when the CGB will be up and running. Just to remind the cyclists, even when the CGB is up and running there are further works necessary to complete the high-quality cycle way.

So in the "war of words" the Cambridge News reports that "Councillors slam 'inept' guided bus contractors" - although the use of the term "inept" was omitted after the Council sought legal advice. I do wonder how much of this revolves around genuine engineering uncertainty and how much around mistakes and/or misunderstandings. Taking the cycle-way as an example an early study predicted that the cycleway should be only suffer flooding for limited periods. It seems to me that the cycleway has flooded far more than predicted. This, despite the fact that we have not had extreme amounts of rainfall over the '09/'10 Winter period this year. So were the original assumptions wrong? Was a mistake made or have the subsequent works affected the flooding situation? I guess we have to remember that this is one of the first and certainly the longest Guided Busways and so there is not a lot of prior art to draw from and of course the terrain it passes through has its own challenges (such as flooding).

As I mentioned in my last post about cycling the CGB there seem to be a lot of weeds growing up between the concrete tracks. The infill between the tracks uses shredded car tyres as a more eco-friendly approach to the need for drainage. Actually the issue of fire-risk associated with the rubber is one of the issues that needs resolving prior to completion of the CGB. (I would imagine that the growth of weeds also presents a source of flammable material when they die down and dry in the sun.) However the use of rubber tracks has been suggested: "Could rubber have erased guided busway problems?" If you check out the link a mock-up photograph has been created of a toy car electric racing track with cars and a bus on it.

Lastly, well on the CGB for now anyway, "Guided bus experts' fee tops £5.5m". as is usual in these sorts of civil works the Council have employed a firm of experts (Atkins based in Girton) to oversee the project. They are paid for their time, as is reasonable, and because the project is over-running and more issues are surfacing their cost has risen from an estimated £2.9m to £5.5m.

I am not quite done with Cambridge yet - inventiveness still abounds: "Inventor's new trike" a retired aerospace engineer has developed a trike with cross-trainer like platforms that move up and down rather than up and round and down and up and round! The Inventor does this as a retirement hobby. There is a video showing the trike in action - although to me it looks like only one "pedal" provides motive force the other just pushes the other pedal into place for the next "stroke". (The chap who suggested a rubber guided busway was also an aerospace engineer - they must be an inventive lot.)

A timely reminder that motorists as well as cyclists break the laws: "Police crackdown snares 60 speeding motorists". These were handed out in one day in the Histon area (where I was knocked off my bike). Also as a reminder to motorists (including me) whilst the law states 30MPH as the limit there is always some leeway - which to my mind seems to encourage law-breaking which is really what driving above the limit is. In the cambridgeshire area villages operate a Speedwatch campaign where speeds are monitored by trained volunteers and letters sent to transgressors (by way of the Police) reminding the transgressors of the speed limits. The lower limit for a letter is 35MPH, 16.7% higher than the actual speed limit. The trouble is that motor vehicles are designed to make it easy to drive at speed, they are quiet, have effective suspension in-car entertainment so as I would acknowledge 30MPH seems slow. Yet in the US many towns are a 25MPH speed limit that seems to be observed by the drivers.

Lastly two sad items concerning the London to Brighton cycle ride. Firstly my condolences to the friends and family of the 48-year old man who collapsed whilst taking part and later died in hospital. Such a happening is tragic, but I suppose that with the large number of participants then occurrences will happen from time to time. On a sombre but less tragic note as reported in the Cambridge News: "Man uses banners to declare love". A man who is living apart from his wife of 10 years secretly put banners to declare his love to his wife in the hope of a rapprochement.

Normal posting will be resumed soon I have two stacks of photographs from recent rides awaiting uploading.

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