Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yet another trip to St Ives and back–the tarmac is pretty much complete (the tarmac features in the next Post)

Saturday, 19th November:  To cut a long story short the cycleway alongside the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) is pretty much complete, with tarmac all the way from Milton Road to St Ives Park and Ride. It is track that is just under 20Km / 12miles in length and uninterrupted interrupted by only six sets of traffic lights along its length. There are still some track works taking place on the section between Swavesey and St Ives, up near St Ives where a Dutch Culvert has been built. So it is not yet open – but people do seem to use it at the weekend.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link to the map below, 52Km/32.5 miles in length. I’ve split the Post into two and the next one will cover the route back along the CGB so you’ll have to wait until I write it to see some pictures of the tarmac.

As it gets dark much earlier in the evenings I headed out a little earlier, from the link you can see that sunset is at 16:03 on the 19th November. I like cycling in the dark – as long as there aren’t too many homicidal drivers around and it isn’t wet, but I did hope to get some pictures of the current state of affairs on the missing link.

I headed out along Gilbert Road – this is not a road I use that much, but even in my limited experience it has certainly made it much nicer (my Mum wouldn’t like my use of the word “nice”).  Motor vehicles seem to give cyclists room and I don’t see vehicles parked in the cycle lane. Although I did this time, up near the traffic lights. A Woman had left her passenger door open – perhaps to indicate the temporary nature of her stop. She had parked in the cycle lane just after the traffic lights.  My plan was to go through the lights, when they turned green, stop and take a picture. She returned to her car just as the lights changed – so no picture. She then “turned” in the road, using someone’s drive and doing a bit of reversing. Why should she wait when everyone else can?

This picture is taken from the bridge over the A14 just as you cycle into Girton. Somewhere up there are some underpasses with graffiti. I didn’t stop other than to get some A14 pictures for the next time I mention it. Although looking at them now you can see how traffic coming in the the Eastbound A14 crowds the bus. Hey they are cars, why should they have to be slowed down by a bus. Now they don’t actually have the right of way, but that doesn’t seem to bother them, nor the fact that the bus is more road efficient than a car. 

On the other side you can see three cars trying to emulate a bus and squeeze up together as they drive along the A14. What was that  you say, the “two second rule” – doesn’t time dilate when you are travelling very fast?

As for tailgating there are examples on both carriageways in this picture. There are groups of six cars, two cars and three cars. Oh and by the way the two second rule is only good for good conditions. The Daily Mail reported on a tragic pile-up on a German Autobahn with 52 vehicles crashing in thick fog. Sadly even the two-second rule is not long enough for those sorts of conditions.

Here is an idea for a budding entrepreneur – invent a tailgating camera – or perhaps just modify the software for the average speed cameras (on the blue pole to the right of the picture).  Now that would be a good way of milking those poor hard done by motorists. Actually I’d use it to send people on driver training courses. Talking about the A14, there is more talk about an A14 Toll road – predictable comments.

The RAC has also “fears the lack of roads spending”, they suggest that there will be 4,000,000 cars on the roads in the next 25 years.  The A14 doesn’t even appear in their top ten unfunded projects. I wonder how they factor in the decrease in oil (for petrol) with peak oil. The trouble is since all our petrol is imported then as supply increases so will the price and so will the money the UK economy p*sses away.  Strangely we all bleat about the price of petrol and diesel, yet the single best thing we could do to reduce the cost is to drive more slowly and economically – we don’t though – ergo we aren’t that bothered about the costs really – yet.

An interesting feature of modern life is that despite most of us continuing to live life with scant regard for  sustainability (me included) the “green” adjective is often used to provide a feel good factor. As in “£7.5m green extension for Girton College”, how green, who knows, but probably the fact that it will also improve disabled facilities is just as important. They are just about to start a new fund-raising campaign to pay for it.

As I was passing St Andrew’s Church in Girton I stopped to take a few pictures including one of this rather imposing “headstone”.

I did try to make reasonable progress as I wanted to get to the St Ives end of the CGB cycleway in the light in order to see what the situation was like.

I did stop for about a minute at the Oakington airfield  “no-go” road – it is still go. Although on this Saturday I only saw two cars and one van using it.

After passing through Longstanton I then turned off the NCN51 route, that is now RR24 (Regional Route 24) on the Sustrans map, and up past the Windmill and Communications Tower on Gravel Bridge Road. I quite like this route because it gives a good view of a long stretch of the CGB. I think that it is called Windmill Bridge.

Did I mention that there were lots of cyclists around, well I thought quite a few. I counted the cyclists I saw both on the CGB cycle way and all of the other roads I cycled on. I passed around off the cycleway and 80 on the cycleway. The majority of the 160 were in Cambridge. These two were part of the 80. 

I have noticed that a bunch of small walls have been built along the edge of the CGB – these two are heading towards one. This view is looking towards Cambridge.

By the time they reach it the bus has covered 4-5 times the distance, which is what you would expect. If they were cycling at say 15mph and the bus was travelling at the “speed limit” of 55mph, then the bus would be going nearly 4 times quicker

Whilst I was on the bridge I also noticed a family out “hiking” – whilst I might go on about the pleasures of cycling it also provides a route for families out walking – presumably if all else fails then you can catch bus. It looks like the kids might have mutinied. We used to use sweeties to keep my daughter going – we’d have a sweetie stop at some landmark in the distance. This view is looking towards St Ives and with the low elevation of the sun has a warmer tint. You can also see a cyclist a bit further down and two buses, they look to have a good 500m between them as per the Guidelines.

After that it was a pleasant but uneventful ride through Fenstanton until at the end of the High Street as I indicated that I wanted to turn right – arm outstretched (and I was wearing a fluorescent yellow jacket) a car coming the other way along the Hilton Road and so going straight on just ignored me and barrelled through the junction. They even looked at me as I went to grab my handlebars with both hands to do some emergency braking.

View Larger Map

So why, I had the right of way, they had clear sight lines. My view is that motorists just don’t “clock” cyclists as fast moving road users. I was probably doing about 15mph, not that fast and not as fast as I could have been going – but I don’t trust cars with my life. I was in the right position to the right – clear, except they didn’t even slow down.

My view is that for whatever reason drivers tend to assume the mantle of the vehicle they are driving. In part this helps them drive, the bigger the vehicle the slower the braking. However it also means that they prioritise their passage over that of smaller vehicles/road users. It is not SMIDSY behaviour rather it is IDSYBYATS – GOOMY – “I did see you but you are too small – Get out of my way”. That is why drivers hate red-light jumping cyclists, because they resent cyclists getting a positional advantage over them – or one up on them – “it ain’t right”.

Anyway enough cycle-syco-cod-psychology. I had reached St Ives and despite all my spouting about how motorists ignore cyclists a car stopped to let me cross the A1096 by the roundabout. Someone further behind didn’t seem so happy and shouted something or other in my general direction.

The good news is that I had reached other end of the cycleway and it was still light. In fact it was light and also pretty calm.  As you can see in these pictures of the lakes in the area.

The water is pretty flat – although |I think these are the unnamed lakes on the St Ives side of the River Great Ouse, well unnamed on the OSM street map anyway.

Right time to go and see what progress has been made on the cycleway surface.


  1. I just saw a message on Twitter from Mike Davies (of Cycle Cambridge) saying:

    "19th Nov: Just rode to St Ives and back on The Busway cycletrack - now fully open. Tarmac all the way. Great views across the lakes."

  2. The views are especially good at sunset. The Tarmac is good and has an anti-slip surface on the slopes. There are some problems using Windows Live Writer to publish posts at the moment. When it starts working again my pictures will follow. Although I didn't take too many pictures - Tarmac is Tarmac. :-)