Thursday, 5th January 2012:Wednesday night/Thursday morning was a pretty windy here in the flatlands. We tend to think if it being windy in the Cambridgeshire area, because the last is flat and so there is nothing to stop the winds from blowing. Mind you I think we probably got off lightly. These graphs of the weather in January so how the max wind speed has gone off the chart (50knots, bottom graph).
It made it all the more difficult to get to sleep as the rattling and banging was really quite noticeable. I also had to get up early (4.30am!) for a conference call and it was still pretty windy. The reports started coming in pretty quickly about tree damage in the Flatlands. The headline says “Nine Roads blocked by fallen trees”. However there are more than nine roads in the list. The Upware Road was reported as blocked as well (part of one of my Lodes Way cycle routes).
A train also had two windows smashed near Ely which was caused by wind damage to the train power lines. There were also arcing power lines in Twentypence Road, Cottenham. I had a meeting on the South-East side of Cambridge from 1pm, but because I had been cooped up in the house for a few days I was determined to get some fresh air and made up my mind to cycle.
This week hasn’t been too bad for congestion, however apparently it is going to get much worse in Cambridge. The Council has carried out modelling work and predicts that over the next decade a 10 minute journey across the city will increase by almost 50% (to 15 minutes). The increase is driven by the population increase; 117,000 in 2008, 125,000 in 2011 and is predicted to be 153,600 by 2021. The Council will rely on Developer Contributions to undertake the work. My advice would be to make it a joy to cycle and cut the traffic in Cambridge to those needing personal motor transport for essential reasons.
Inevitably the City Council seems to be somewhat car focused. The car park on Park Street is needing £3.4 million of repairs and one option is to include housing. There is no mention of doing away with the car park altogether of course.
Fortunately when I set off to my meeting on my bicycle although it was windy the strong gales had died down and it was just so nice getting out into the fresh air. Indeed it was so nice I took a long-cut and despite the winds overnight the wind damage wasn’t too bad. There were twigs on the ground and one or two signs had been blown over.
What was more worrying was every now and then as I cycled the clouds got darker and occasionally there would be a spit or two of rain in the air. As I had time to spare I decided to cycle from shelter to shelter, or at least try to be near places I could stop if necessary.
For a change I went down the Barnwell Road, which is a road I almost never cycle along. It is not a very inviting road, although there is a cycle path alongside the road.
The trouble is that cycle path is a bit isolated it is not that easy to get get onto it or leave it. Yet it could be a tremendous part of a route – if only there were joined up thinking and cyclists weren’t just abandoned to their fate at roundabouts.
Here it is as it passes a Primary School, it is reasonably wide and segregated from the pavement and a good distance from the road. It has a bit of tree root damage. The trouble is when you reach the Sainsbury’s Roundabout as it reaches Brooks Road/Coldhams lane. You end up having to get back onto the left hand side of the road to carry along, or at least I think that is what you are supposed to do.
The row of trees does make it harder for motorists to consider it as a car park, unlike this plonker who wedged his car between two cycle lane bollards.
As luck would have it I avoided the rain, got to my meeting pleasantly refreshed. The only downside was I had forgotten to take a front light with me. I didn’t cycle without lights though, I got one “delivered”.
Cycling – definitely a Mode of Transport and not a Dangerous Sport. And the wind was behind me going home.