Friday, April 8, 2011

A Bridge too Far–The Tins Path is now open

Thursday, 7th April: Just when you are getting ahead things seem to conspire against you. For a variety of reasons I have not done quite so much cycling recently – but we’ll come to that later.

It seems that the Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB) is caught up in a Kafkaesque world of its own. Apparently six full-time members of staff were employed to work on the route from November 2009 and the cost in wages has been just over £100,000.  The council said that “salaries will be covered by busway contractor BAM Nuttall” (by the £14,000 per day liquidated damages).In my opinion this just goes to show how poorly Council’s treat “money”. Paying people to do something before it is necessary is just poor fiscal control and gives some insight into the odd world of Council budgeting.

On a related matter Northstowe, a new town 9,500 town to be built along the route of the CGB is also in the news.  Apparently a study concluded that traffic analysis indicated that only 2,000 homes could be built (between Oakington and Longstanton) unless the A14 got its £1.3bn upgrade to widen and re-route it. Mind you there are also concerns that the CGB will not be economically viable without the custom that Northstowe (when it gets built) will provide.

Phew, what a car-sick society we live in. Do we really want a gazillion more motor vehicles spewing out pollution (air and noise). The distance from Northstowe to the Science park is around 8Km/5 miles down the CGB route. The distance to the Science park via the A14 is 20Km/12.5m.  On a bicycle, it ought to be possible for even a moderately unfit person to cycle at 16Km/hr (10mph) which would imply a journey time of around 30minutes, remarkably close to the government recommended levels of exercise (twice a day).  Whereas assuming the car journey averages 30mph/48Km/hr  then it would take around 25minutes. There is no contest really?  Especially since the CGB will have a tarmac surface from Longstanton down to Milton Road.

There is also the option of taking the CGB, assuming a double-decker can carry 70 people then 100 double-deckers would carry 7,000 – only 1 every minute for 90 minutes – um quite a few.

Car-sick society – you bet A five storey office block, adjacent to Unex House on Hills Road has received unanimous approval. It will have 98 new car parking spaces and just 72 cycle spaces. Less than the Council’s own policies which would require 119 if enforced. Now if I remember correctly Hills Road is an important route through for Addenbrookes, the 6th Form colleges, the Railway Station and into town, so lets encourage more cars into the area – you couldn’t make it up if you tried.

Mind you such odd thinking is not just happening at County council level.  Apparently an MP is proposing a Bill to introduce a new offence-  “Death by Dangerous Cycling” I, in no way, condone dangerous cycling and I have every sympathy for the family who suffered in the terrible tragedy referred to. However we have to put the issue into perspective, we have a cheap-skate approach to the creation of cycle paths – er yes that’s right put up shared-use signs on pavements – where it suits the powers that be. Why do we need to create a new law to effectively deal with such reckless behaviour? There appears to be a presumption that in the event of a cyclist being on a path there is a higher duty of care perhaps to the more vulnerable pedestrians.  What if the same were to happen with a person running along the path. Does that same duty of care not also apply between  road users – say vulnerable cyclists and not so vulnerable cars and lorries. 

If we are to enact more legislation then at least let’s make it more broadly effective (and cost effective).

On a more positive note the Cambridge News is to carry a Cycling Blog – now is certainly the time to give cycling a go – the weather is just perfect. Also did you know if you are a student in the Cambridge area you can sign up for a £40 per-term cycling allowance if you forgo a student bus pass.

For me Thursday was a meetings in Cambridge day and I decided to plan a visit to the Tins Path development to see if the bridge was now in operation.  When it was first delivered to the site if was too long – a bridge too far. I also picked up a sandwich at the Tesco Supermarket on the edge of Cherry Hinton and sneaked up to Great Wilbraham and sat on a bench and had my lunch in between meetings.

I can sometimes get a bit on my high-horse (or should that be high-bicycle) when moaning about us hard-done by cyclists.  There are some good bits in Cambridge. The shared-use cycle and pedestrian bridge over the railway lines near to Cambridge Railway Station is a good example of a decent bit of cycling specific provision (Carter Bridge).  The bridge provides a useful short-cut for cyclists around an area that has quite a few cars and lorries buzzing around the area.  Here is that Bridge, from the inside.  The layout also seems to help, in the main, to segregate the cyclists from the pedestrians. Mind you  you do have to be a bit careful when cycling close to the pedestrian bit as there is a small edge which can trick the unwary.

For some reason here is another picture – this time without anybody in shot. The bridge is covered, presumably to prevent people dropping things onto the railway tracks below. You can see out, although it is not the most optically perfect plastic. There are also what appear to be cameras. Are bridges like this a bit more dangerous and so need security cameras?

There is a cycle route from the Station out towards Cherry Hinton that avoids Mill Road, it ducks and dives along side roads and bits of footpath that have been re-designated as shared-use path.

Here is one such side road – actually it is Greville Road. What caught me eye was the addition of the wooden posts along the road. I can’t remember the last time I cycled down this road however I don’t remember these posts and they do look new.  It would appear that the Council has put them in to prevent motorists parking on the verge.  As you can see there is really only room for parking along one side of this road and very little room for manoeuvre if cars meet each other in opposite directions.  So what we have here is a bunch of money spent to control motorists behaviour, that will also presumably increase the cost of mowing these public verges.  So our taxpayer money is being spent on something that does not really create anything – it is used to control the behaviour of parking motorists.

After a bit more ducking and diving you come out on Perne Road where cyclists are channelled towards the traffic light controlled junction between Perne Road and Mill Road.  After waiting patiently you then cross over and up Brookfields towards the Tins Path.  I have to say I was pretty impressed in terms of the sort of infrastructure that is normally created. For choice I would like to see some segregation between cyclists and pedestrians (which might be to come). I like the way they have left some trees along the track and gotten the lampposts all neatly lined up and behind the dotted line/

This is the view back down towards the Perne Road/Mill Road traffic lights. On this side the road is called Brookfields when it passes the new bridge on the left it becomes Burnside. There is the new bridge that now seems to fit nicely. It is certainly much easier to negotiate than the old wooden narrow bridge.  The handlebars on my Marin Hybrid are quite wide and I was worried they might catch the wooden bridge railings.

Back to the Tins path, this is the view along the left leg of the path (heading out of Cambridge)

And for completeness the view of the right hand leg. It would seem sensible and might be the plan that this side is reserved for pedestrian use and the other for cyclists.

After the tree island the path is of a pretty reasonable width and the lampposts and cycling signs are tucked into the edges and have white dotted lines to help highlight the edges as no-cycle areas. You can just about see the railway bridge which is where this path crosses the Cambridge to Ipswich railway line.  Unfortunately this narrow bridge remains, apparently it is much harder (and expensive) to undertake works around railway lines – even not very busy ones.

The path then caries on with reasonable width and segregation past the Holiday Inn Express and David Lloyd gym and sports facilities. Here the path is segregated, but you have to watch out for all the Sport Club users who have driven and parked in the car park desperate to get their exercise. They do and will cross without paying any attention to the humble cyclists looking combining exercise and transport – now who would have thought of that eh?

The route I took was to go through along Fulbourn Old Drift, and then to Tesco. I can recommend the King Prawn and Avocado sandwiches with Quavers!).  Just to feel that I’d made it into the countryside I then carried on through Fulbourn to the outskirts of Great Wilbraham and had my lunch on a bench by a Post-box.   On the way back I stopped to take a picture of this Grape Hyacinth in the verge.

I also took a picture of the trees springing into leaf and the Oilseed rape almost turning yellow.

I really enjoy this weather and the lighter evenings and mornings.  I pretty much like cycling whether for pleasure or going to work, but this weather just makes it so much more pleasant.  I should also tip my hat to Cambridge County Council The Tins is one of the better cycling improvements.

The reason I have not been cycling so much – the usual, things to do and I bruised my hand bumping through a pothole so  decided to give it a bit of rest.

No comments:

Post a Comment