Sunday, August 1, 2010

Cycling the Cambridge Guided Busway whilst the going is good?

Saturday is a day for chores and generally a late afternoon cycle ride. Sometimes I have a route in mind from a previous cycle ride and sometimes I don't. This was the last ride of the month - so I like to finish as I mean to go on and get a few kilometres in. Having cycled along the Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB) a few times this month it would not normally be my first choice. However an article in the Cambridge News worried me: "Busway bosses plan for emergency vehicles to use track". According to the article "the maintenance road needs raising in several locations due to flooding" (no kidding) and that buses might run before this work is undertaken. So they have emergency plans to run Fire engines and Ambulances along the concrete track if necessary.

What does this mean? What worries me is that this might mean that the need to sort out the cycle track (aka maintenance track) drops to the bottom of the priority list (or drops off the list altogether). There already seems to have been some foot-dragging in terms of getting the various CGB problems fixed. We have seen the cycle path flooded for months during a relatively low rainfall winter and at times frozen solid. Yet the initial predictions suggested it would only be flooded for a few days during all but the worst annual rainfalls.

What has gone wrong, does anybody understand why it has gone wrong and if it will be fixed? At the moment it looks as if the "high-quality track alongside that is available for pedestrians and cyclists" (See section 5.5) is now no longer certain and there are now plans to work around its lack of quality.

The good news is that despite the recent rain the cycle path (calling it a maintenance path seems to be an oxymoron - lack of maintenance path perhaps) has not flooded any further. It seems that from time to time various loads of large chippings are dumped onto the track in the places where it floods. This might work for large motor vehicles vehicles but it becomes a safety hazard for cyclists.

On this ride I passed 4 cyclists on the maintenance path and 10 on the concrete tracks. Quite a low number, lower than I have counted during the working week, which suggests that the route is being used by commuting cyclists. However in all cases the majority of cyclists use the concrete tracks. For those interested I also counted 15 cars parked in the "advisory" cycle lanes along Gilbert Road.

This is the route I took I followed the Sustrans 51 route out but took a slightly different route between Longstanton and Fen Drayton. The route length was around 50Km with around 75m ascent/descent so pretty flat. The route out crossed the CGB twice - the first time over Windmill Bridge the second time at traffic lights.

Cambridge to St Ives Annotated.jpg

The view of the CGB from Windmill Bridge looking towards Cambridge - two cyclists on the Concrete tracks, one on the maintenance path and a couple of walkers also on the path.


The view from the Bridge looking towards St Ives - the tracks look a bit weedy!


When I looked downstream I thought I saw a hare running across the tracks - bottom right of the picture. It looked quite large but a check of this Brown Hare Survey leaves me not so sure. Perhaps it is just a well-fed rabbit.


As this is a route I have been along a few times I did not take many pictures. I did stop to take a picture of these Horse chestnut trees - they look as if Autumn (Fall) has come early for them - they looked browner than surrounding trees.


The brown colour is a bit more visible here when you compare the two trees on the left with the tree on the right of the picture.


A reminder that mature Horse Chestnut trees are being killed by a combination of Leaf Mite and Canker.


The last time I wrote about the CGB I compared its quality with that of the Bath to Bristol cycle path it doesn't look good for the high-quality CGB track at the moment. Given that there are alleged financial penalties payable by the contractors because of the late completion of the CGB I am beginning to wonder how certain the ability to offset those penalty payments against the cost of the scheme is.

No comments:

Post a Comment