Sunday, April 29, 2012

A wander by bike around Wadlow Wind Farm: Part 3/3

Saturday, 28th April 2012: After  a look at the Wadlow Wind Farm what could be better than checking out a new route – well, frankly quite a few things could be better, but since I was in Pampisford it seemed like a logical thing to do. After turning off the A1307 along the Pampisford road you can either avoid Great Abington or go through it. That is of course tke beauty of a bicycle, a slightly convoluted route can be more pleasant and interesting than a route made up of straight bits. I went around down the High Street, Church Lane and onto Bourn Bridge Road. I wonder why it is called after Bourn Bridge – the bridge passes over the River Granta?

The route I was checking out was a footpath from the Abington area to Babraham.  Without it the choices are either to go over the Fourwentways roundabout or down to Station Road and join the A505 and try and cross onto the High Street to Babraham. Either route is not going to be pleasant on a bicycle and certainly not one you would want to cycle along with a family. On the OS map the area is called Four Went Ways – presumably after the crossroads it used to be.

If you look at the OSM map cycle view the route is shown as a cycle way. When I got there is was marked as a footpath, and when I got to the bridge there was a no cycling sign and a gutter to assist in getting you bike over the bridge – confused. I have found it difficult getting definitive answers on what paths allow cycling and what paths don’t. It is legal to cycle along roads, byways and bridleways but not pavements or footpaths. However for footpaths and pavements the laws (and punishments) can be different.

The real issue is how can you tell – we’ve all seen examples of poorly signed shared-used pavements barely wide enough for one let along two bikes to pass. Cycling infrastructure doesn’t always get well maintained and the “Cycle end” marking can get lost and signs not replaced.

The trouble is, unlike public rights of way for which there is on-line support and which are well-supported by OS maps. OS maps do show the major Sustrans routes as either green dots (on road) of green circles (off-road) as well as footpaths (red-dotted lines), bridleways (red-dashed lines) and byways red-crossed lines. Which are all in this section of map

How can I tell where it is legal to cycle? That is where the OSM Cycle map is useful – but it probably has little legal status. (There is even an Institute of Public Rights of Way and Access Management (IPROW).)  Here is the Cambridgeshire County Council rights of way map - - but not cycleways and not definitive.

Here is the IPROW FAQ for riding your bike.

On what types of routes do I have a right to ride my bike?

On all the categories of public rights of way except footpaths. It is not an offence to ride on a footpath, but may be a trespass against the landowner. However, it is an offence to ride on a pavement beside a carriageway and also where a traffic regulation order or a bylaw is in place to prohibit cycling.

And the answer is I am not sure quite what the status is. Although this Cambridgeshire County Council reference suggests that discussions with land owners and parish councils are on-going.

Footbridge over the A11 from Pampisford to Babraham

Here is the Bike Route Toaster map and link of the ride. It is just 50Km/31 miles in length and as you might expect there is a climb, well for the flatlands anyway. Let’s face it you wouldn’t expect a wind farm in a valley. Don’t worry it is not that bad it reaches 100m above sea level – just, and you start from around 7m.

Although it was great fun to get out in the rain I did find that the tracks and byways were a little slippery so after “discovering” an interesting route from Abingdon to Babraham I made use of various cycleways to get back (such as the CGB cycleway)

Map of my ride to Wadlow Wind Farm

I have noticed this bridge when driving down the A11 but apart from its distinctive shape not given it much thought. At least they provided a bridge and didn’t make users of the footpath run across through gaps in the barriers like further up the A11 near Barton Mills. I blogged about it here, the picture is halfway down.

Footbridge over the A11 from Pampisford to Babraham

I know – way too many pictures of this bridge – but I might not go this way again for a while. The slope of the steps was also not bad, it as much easier getting my bike over this bridge than the Lodes Way footbridge over Burwell Lode (picture number 5).

Footbridge over the A11 from Pampisford to Babraham

This is the view looking up the A11 towards the Fourwentways intersection. The oncoming fourth car back in the middle lane has only one working headlight. A couple of days later it will be Speed Awareness Week – and using my powers to look into the future on the 1st  of May the Sussex police will catch more than 3,000 people motorists speeding. Whilst many drivers will tell you that speeding is not a problem they forget that the faster a motor vehicle is travelling the more serious the consequences if there is a moment’s inattention or a tyre problem...  Not to mention the noise.

The A11 near Fourwentways

Phew is that the last of the bridge pictures I hear you think, no sorry. But this is the path after you cross the bridge.  I do enjoy finding new routes that I have yet to cycle along – nothing beats the element of discovery. I know it is not quite like climbing Everest or skiing to the North Pole – but enjoy it.

You could see that others have cycled this way and even with the rain it was quite cycle-able.

Footpath from Pampisford to Babraham after crossing the A11

This is the last bridge picture – in this post anyway as the main subject anyway. This is the view from the other side. As you can see the “riding of pedal cyclists is prohibited”.  I wasn’t going to cycle up the gutter anyway – generally the traction on wet metal is none too good.

Footbridge over the A11 from Pampisford to Babraham

After Babraham there was a “proper” cycle route across to Sawston – this one was purpose built and I think was built as part of Cycle to School funding and jolly nice it is too. Perhaps not up to Dutch standards – but at least it is set away from the road a little bit.

Sawston-Babraham Cycleway

I then joined the NCN11 route from Sawston up to Cambridge, with the bit leading to Addenbrookes “decorated” with Double Helix of DNA by Katy Hallett.

Sustrans Art: Double Helix on NCN11 near Addenbrookes

And up in the background is the ever expanding Addenbrookes site. Although there is controversy over its lack of helipad facilities. Although it has a major trauma centre if you get choppered in you have to land at the local Golf Course and get driven down. The delay can add a crucial 20 minutes onto the journey time. The are has two charities providing helicopters and medics but no landing pad – joined up – non?

When ranting on about the lack of evidence concerning the use of cycle helmets although many idle commenters seem to think they should be compulsory I sometimes mention falling down stairs as an example of an activity that has its dangers but which no-one would dream of dinning a helmet for. I think that partly it is because such accidents don’t get reported – well unfortunately here is the report of a local man falling down stairs. He was taken to Addenbrookes by land ambulance but assisted by the Magpas Helimedix team.

Addenbrookes Hospital

And this is the actual cycleway – this is better than cycling along a road – but isn’t that wide unfortunately.  I also find the DNA decoration can be a little slippery as well I avoid cycling along it and avoid the edges coloured stripes as well.

What I hadn’t realised is that there are also four species of tree planted along this bit of the route to represent the four genome bases.  This represents the 10,000th mile of the National Cycle Network (NCN) and was opened in 2005.

Sustrans Art: Genome Stripes on NCN11 near Addenbrookes

I turned off the NCN11 route and carried on into Cambridge on the Southern Section of the Cambridge Guided Busway. Which has been in the news a little just recently. With all the rain we have been having it has flooded – well the important but has (the cycleway). Naturally I have been for a paddle and will report on it in a few posts time when I catch up. I will also mention the kindness of a bus driver who waited for me to pass through the floodwater safely before he carried on his way – thank you to him.

The legal battle is inching along, at the same pace the original construction did it seems. with BAM Nuttall launching a £43m busway counterclaim. According to the article they seem to be going after the Project Manager hired by the CCC – Atkins.  Apparently the failings of the Project Manager were “serious and numerous”.

A while ago I mentioned how the provision of a free school bus from Oakington to Impington was being withdrawn and the parents were appealing – well “Parents fail to overturn bus decision”. Apparently residents “may have little choice but to drive their children to school”. I think overall it would be better for kids to cycle to school and the CGB cycleway seems are very reasonable route IMHO. The trouble is there is still a real perceived concern about the dangers.

There are multiple strands to the problem and i don’t have particular answers. I am sure that there is some degree of over-protectiveness creeping in. However there also seems to be a reluctance to acknowledge the fear parents have of the roads for cyclists. The desire to have 20mph speed limits (for cyclists’ sake) does not get acted upon.  Yet most commuters (two in three) feel that most roads were unfit for cycling in a survey by the charity Brake.

The trouble is here in the flatlands there is pressure to create more housing – “New towns will create traffic time bomb say villagers” yet we don’t seem to be able to plan more sustainable ways to help those new inhabitants get around.

The problem is not to get people like me cycling more – I have given up the Lycra and and pushing at the end of middle-age. We want to made the cycling appealing to those who aren’t cycling. We want cycling to be seen as safe by parents letting their kids cycle to school, by mums cycling their toddlers around by older people cycling to the shops.  Telling them they need more training and that there should be stiffer penalties for “Drivers who kill” is a bit of shutting the gate after the horse has bolted.

It would seem to me that the price being paid to provide routes for motoring at the expense of routes for cycling and walking is too high.  We even have the expense of policing the roads. A local crackdown by Police on road safety stopped 100 vehicles – that is a lot of vehicles for a day’s work. It implies there are loads of “unsafe” vehicles sharing the roads with cyclists and pedestrians.

Not surprisingly Rising petrol costs boost cyclist numbers (in Southampton according to a survey). Apparently 1 in 3 cyclists have increased their levels of cycling in the past three years.  The principal safety concerns of cyclists – drivers not paying attention.

Sorry another bridge.

Guided Busway Spur to Addenbrookes Hospital

As I cycled through the Cambridge Railway Station it did suddenly become cyclist unfriendly – roll on the Chisholm trail and also roll on better cycle parking. They are trialling some double-decker cycle bays and yes I have some pictures – in a post yet to be written, In fact the pictures have only just been downloaded.

Oops another bridge got into the picture – the Carter Bridge.

Whilst we (or rather I) go on about not wanting roads all over the place – they only attract cars and lorries  - parking is also a problem in Cambridge. Apparently in the US surface car parks take up land roughly the size of Puerto Rico – just under 3,500 sq miles. In a BBC article – “Is there a worldwide parking problem?” it reports on a book discussing the issue. There are now around 600 million cars in the world and that is growing.  the author argues for better car parks – I would argue for fewer cars.

Nowadays there is concern that if town dwellers devote their garden space to hard-standing for cars, unless it is semi-permeable it can lead to flood risks (the report of Scottish but it gives the picture).

Crap Cycle Parking – Cambridge Railway Station

When I looked at the map to plot my route on Bike route Toaster I noticed that another cycle way North from the station. I sometimes use St Barnabas Road. I was taking a taxi home and noticed that the driver went that way. Why well there are traffic lights that make it easier to join Mill Road, It also makes it easier for a cyclist as well.

What I hadn’t realised was there was a route north by crossing Mill Road and going down Gwydir Street and then Hooper Street/Ainsworth Street – so I must give that  go. Although cycling is slower than driving it doesn’t mean I want my journey to be even slower because of congestion and going around the houses. If anything cyclists prefer efficiency – which is perhaps why some don’t stop at red lights.

This time around I went through Coldham’s Commons – which isn’t too bad – the thing I hate is that there can be an interminable wait when crossing Coldhams Lane from Cromwell Road into Coldham’s Commons.

Mind you I don’t mind stopping to take the occasional (and even the regular) picture. The recent rain had brought out the buttercups (ranunculus) on the Common.

Buttercups on Coldham’s Common

As you can see here they are dotted along the grass. Do cows like them? well whether they do or not cows are susceptible to buttercup poisoning – it can cause the milk to be bitter and red-tinted. You learn something new every day"!

Buttercups on Coldham’s Common

And finally chapeau to the 10,000 cyclists who braved the rain in London to support the Dutch-style cycling revolution. As Cyclists in the City says: “It’s time to make London a city that’s designed to people to cycle instead of drive”. The issue has become a key part of the mayoral elections. The trouble is whilst Boris might be a cyclist it seems he doesn’t necessarily get cycling for all  – according to a podcast I listened to on the Bikeshow.. (In fact one Blogger (Vole O’Speed) would argue that he is not sincere in his commitment to Go Dutch. (Here are more pictures on Cyclestreets.)

And finally – Raleigh has gone Dutch and here are some of their historic posters. And just as I was finishing this post it turns out that at Weetabix has gone Chinese (well 60% anyway),

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