Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Are the byways and bridleways still soggy?

Friday, 21 February 2014: I was going to call this post POETS: day – where after the recent spate of not so good weather it was a nice sunny day. In fact it was so nice I couldn’t resist going out for a Push Off Early Today’s Sunny spin.

In my naivety because it was so nice I forgot all about the recent rain and decided that by now the byways and bridleways must have blown dry. I was quite hard resisting the call to pedals as the sun shone from 7am onwards, it dipped around 1pm which had me worried.

Although before I waffle on about stuff read this Post – “1000 Words” from Magnatom. he starts with a picture and very eloquently demonstrates why Cycling Facilities (that the powers that be probably think we should be grateful for)  fail to be, well Cycling Facilities.

With the current need/desire for more housing, for a variety of reasons, there will be more congestion in our towns and cities. Yes we can build more roads, but too often the infrastructure that is needed comes as an afterthought. Too often we see villages being create and the facilities come along as an afterthought. This news item on the proposal to build 3,5000 homes in Bourn makes the argument to justify scaling back the development and instead building a further 2,000 in Cambourne,

The long-heralded Northstowe (10,000 homes to the North West of Cambridge) seems to have been a struggle to get going. Apparently the Council had wanted the developers to contribute £65m to the creation of infrastructure (schools, roads, sports facilities). After much haggling work by lawyers the amount was agreed at £30m.  Then the developers successfully argued that the first 1,500 homes would be “unviable” if the target of having 40% of the houses as affordable was stuck to and the target was cut to 20%. Let’s hope that the sustainable ideals are lived up to – which in my mind means proper segregated cycling facilities – make it safe and easy for kids of all ages to cycle to school.

It makes me wonder quite what is the demand for all this housing. The trouble is demand changes with the price – the law of supply and demand. The need might be there but at what social cost.  At least there is the CGB and cycleway from Northstowe into the Science park. Checking out the route on Cycle Streets here show that at 51/2 miles it is a convenient and flat distance at just under 30 minutes. What’s more the Fastest, Balanced and Quietest routes are all the same, so it is a route with little compromise – which is what you need if you are trying to encourage a switch to alternate modes of transport. Let’s hope that Northstowe facilitates the route (think could a 4-year old do it with their parents).

The alternative is that Travel Times will rise (by 46% in a decade) as indicated in the Cambridgeshire Local Transport Plan  back at the start of 2011 – so only another 7 years to go. The signs are there that some change is afoot with  parking charges being raised in Huntingdonshire, “Residents support for swapping car bays for bike racks in Romsey terrace in Cambridge”.  I do worry that it is all way to tactical and piecemeal though. Look at our stop-start bus lanes in Cambridge, look at the narrow shared-use cycle paths. Look at the Cambridge Guided Bus – with congestion issues in St Ives and  Cambridge. Nothing seems to get built with a long-term view in mind.

Ho-hum, enough of that. For my POET’S day ride I ventured back onto the Low Fen Drove Way from High Ditch Road to the Horningsea Road and then across from Horningsea on the Hundred Acre Road (et al) to Lode before hitting the Lodes Way.

As soon as I had crossed the bridge of the A14 it was time to gather my wits – the first bit of the track has loads of potholes and they were flooded which means extra care is needed.

After passing the Dog’s Kennels the track is one of compacted mud – usually quite pleasant for cycling. After the rain it was pretty pretty soggy, where I had to pedal further than I travelled as my rear wheel slipped. At this point I began to think I should have wither put my snow tyres on the bike or at least gotten some more knobbly tyres for my riding. As you can see the winds have winnowed the trees.

Low Fen Drove Way – Still pretty muddy

It was pretty much muddy all the way around to the NT section of the old railway line (Cambridge to Mildenhall – check out the video – you get to see a train’s eye view of all the stations on the line, in 1959 – Quy at 4:30min, Bottisham + Lode at 5:30, Burwell 7:30).

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line

As you can see from this zoomed in picture there are preferred cycle routes around the puddles.

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line

This is the line approaching Lode. It was less muddy. You can see why I couldn’t resist going out for a spin!

Old Cambridge to Mildenhall Railway Line

A familiar picture – Wicken Lode

Wicken Lode – sparkling in the sunlight

I got home tired, but it was thoroughly enjoyable, it was harder work that usual – but not too hard.

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