Thursday, January 23, 2014

A cold Sunday Cycle around the Fens

Sunday, 12th January 2014: It was a duller day than yesterday, but I did enjoy the fresh air despite the cold so I decided to set of around the Fens again, but avoiding the muddier byways and bridleways.

I was pleased to see that a motorist was reported for careless driving (or without reasonable consideration for other persons) under Section 3 of the Road Traffic Act. A young man splashed a group of primary school children and their parents as they made their way to school. I would be quite happy for his “punishment” to be driver training. The aim is to get more drivers thinking more about their driving rather than driving with a fear of fines.  I got splashed from head to toe by a motorist when on the shared-use path between Bottisham and Swaffham Bulbeck.

It would seem that driver training (an alertness course) is also being offered for some of the drivers involved in the Sheppey Crossing Crash in September last year in which more than 200 people received treatment at the scene and 35 needed hospital treatment.

For a variety of reasons I have been driving a bit more in Cambridge than I would like. Which predictably led to me sitting in traffic with my wife and daughter telling them that I had forgotten how bad congestion was in Cambridge and that’s why I prefer to cycle.  The trouble is Cambridge hasn’t got a lot of scope for creating new roads and yet there are significant developments in and around the city which are bound to increase the congestion pressure. 

Mind you there is talk of a £1bn boost for Cambridge Transport and housing leading to an underground transport network!  Apparently the mid-2009 population of the city was 119,100 and is forecast to be 151,800 by 2013!  However the congestion is also driven by the area around Cambridge city which is also predicted to grow.   Cambridgeshire and Peterborough had an estimated population of 773,600 in 2009 and is predicted to rise by 185,000 by 2031 to 958,900.  That is a lot of growth and a lot of people. Although at the same time the County is the worst funded of all 152 local authority areas in the country.

The trouble is there doesn’t seem to be joined up thinking in terms of the local and regional planning. Apparently there is an issue with funding of the Cambridge city 20mph limit. I can’t work out whether it is political with points-scoring the game or a bit of budget shuffling. Personally I think it is great and would like to see it become city-wide without higher-speed corridors – that would make it easier to change behaviour and police it and reduce the cost of signage.

Having driven and cycled and walked in some of the 20mph-limit areas that already exist such as Mill Road it has helped both from a safety perspective and it makes the areas more pleasant. I just wish that there was more emphasis on actually getting drivers down to the speed limit – 20mph.  Rather than whining about how difficult it is.

The sort of growth that is being foisted on the County will require a dramatic re-think to the transport needs – and I have even mentioned the problems off all the parking required for those cars and vans. It is also about time that parking on pavements was made illegal. That affects all road users from lorries to pedestrians. While I am on the subject – most forms of stupid parking need sorting out – near junctions, double parking, random stops in the road (particularly popular near schools). You get the idea.

Talking about fines for this, that and everything apparently a Head Teacher is to impose £60 fines on parents if their children are late for school… Although this looks a bit like the misuse of the rules associated with truanting. Perhaps this Head is trying to put off problem parents from even applying to the school?

Back to the ride – a straightforward spin around the fens – mainly on roads and the Lodes Way, although I did cycle along Newnham Drove – still as bumpy as ever – but not muddy. Since I am using the Lodes Way area to re-build my fitness (well sort off) I am trying not to take too many pictures – ‘cos they will all end up being the same. I did notice this chap off White Fen Drove Way, with a camera I think, or perhaps binoculars. He was there the day before as well.  The byway the runs parallel (ish) to the last bit of the OSM map is still not visible.

I also bumped into MikeC and had a chat.

Bird Watching off White Fen Drove Way

The Wide-Open Fen Skies over Burwell Fen

A Highland Calf – giving me a hard stare

Lodes Way – deserted along Burwell Fen

It looks like the Sherriff has come to town. It would seem that the NT has decided to assert their ownership rights over some of the land near Newnham Drove.

The Sherriff of Burwell Fen?

A bit further down Newnham Drove a Tosser has been in action. The rubbish includes a fridge.

Fly-tipping Newnham Drove

There was a burnt-out car on the other side of the drove, with  “Police Aware” tape around it. This has been there since at least the 29th September when I took a picture of it. Usually they are cleated more quickly.

Burnt-out Car – Newnham Drove

The day started off quite cold, dipping below freezing from midnight to 8am and then rising to around 5oC during the afternoon. There was still ice around, although not as black ice fortunately.

Puddles were still icy along Little Fen Drove

Little Fen Drove Way aka Factory Road

Baker’s Fen

This time I got back feeling pretty toasty.  I could get used to this cycling lark – in the dry and sunny weather.

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