Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Wintry Cambridge and last minute fixes on the Cambridge Guided Busway

Tuesday, 7th December: I had an excuse reason to temporarily put a hold on pre-Christmas chores and go out for a ride use my bike as an appropriate and eco-friendly form of business transport. I had meetings at the St John's Innovation Centre to the North of Cambridge City and despite the temperature dropping to -7.2C at 9am (or should that be because) it was a clear day and the trees and hedgerows were laden with frost in a most picturesque fashion.

Mind you it is also that time of month for the Cambridge County Council to agonise report on the state of play on the Cambridge Guided Busway. As heralded by the Cambridge News headline: "Busway bosses ready to ditch BAM Nuttall". Apparently guided bus tests will start in two weeks. The CCC press release goes on to mention the "cycleway that is underwater and impassable for more than half the year" and that they expect the late delivery cost to exceed £9m (to the contractors). The report (.doc file) that is being presented to the Cabinet on the 14th December gives even more detail on the acceptance and snagging processes and what will need to be done for each of the alleged defects.

The part of the report that interests me (as a cyclist) is Section 3.12 - 3.14 which deals with the maintenance track. The report does state that in its present form it has been unusable by cyclists and pedestrians for more than 6 months over the last year, but that it is not necessary to do the work before bringing the Busway into use. Which "happily" means the work can be done in the Summer when the risk of flooding has receded. The short term fix will be to put up barriers gates with signs "advising against trespassing on the guideway track". They will be locked when the track is flooded. So it seems to me that the plan is basically to "ban" users of the maintenance path whilst it is flooded. Cyclists (and walkers) end up being treated as second-class citizens yet again. It also worries me that any proposed solutions to the flooding of the path will be mediocre/sub-standard in the name of cost-saving - yet hailed as being "better" over-looking the fact that the Busway is almost two years late.

Before my blood pressure gets too high I'd better switch to the actual ride yesterday. As is often the case I took a very roundabout route around Cambridge and headed the wrong way to check out the fields outside the City. On my way through I took a picture of two forms of well tried and tested means of transportation happily coexisting and being used. Although as it happens one of them, the river, was frozen. The cycle path (NCN51) passes along a wooden bridge under the railway bridge alongside the river. I once ended up in Casualty when I fell off passing over the slippery wooden bridge. It turns out that one of the people I met with has fallen off his bike twice in this spot. I always take care passing this way now. (NCN11 is on the other side of the river.)


Once I was a bit further out of town this is what it looked like - heavily frosted fields, hedges and trees.


The trees were very heavily laden with ice, I did wonder how much weight the ice adds to the branches. I guess they must suffer a few bough breaks.


Yes I got to my meeting on time, one of the advantages of a bicycle is that if you know how far it is then you can quite reliably estimate the time it will take. In fact despite the very cold temperatures the various cycle paths were pretty clear after the slight thaw at the weekend.

Afterwards I headed of to Histon to visit a cycle shop. I need to replace my cycling boots and would prefer to buy them from a shop after trying them on. I went to Station Cycles shop in Histon. Unfortunately they had sold out of the type I wanted (Shimano MW80) which get a good write up and I have been pleased with their predecessors. They did offer to let me try on other Shimano cycle shoes so that I could order them off the web - which I think is very sporting for a cycle shop (forgive the pun).

The clouds over Cambridge did look as if there might be some snow in them - this picture makes them look rather more dramatic than they really were though.


After Histon I cycled back along the CGB and passed quite a few groups of workmen doing snagging work. Just after passing under the road bridge after Histon there was a lot of fencing where the track infill was being lifted. I did not hang around to find out quite why or what was happening but assume this won't be happening up the entire length of the CGB. I also passed some electricians fixing one of the CGB street lights.


Afterwards I popped back up to Quy to get a picture of the skies over the frosty fields. The skies weren't quite as dramatic and the fields were looking a little less frosty - but it was an excuse to do a little more cycling.

Quy fields.jpg

On the way back the River Cam was still frozen as I passed through Ditton Meadows. But the frost on the grass was not quite as impressive.


The Cambridge to King's Lynn Railway line as it passes between Ditton Meadows and Stourbridge Common. At times it felt as if there were a few flakes of snow, although it think they were really bits of ice "dust" falling off the trees.


And finally an Air Ambulance has moved to Cambridge -no mention of the situation with Magpas though.

No comments:

Post a Comment