Monday, September 29, 2014

Cause and Effect–Pollution, Victim Blaming, Urbanisation

Saturday, 21st June 2014: Saturdays are when I catch up on the weeks radio podcasts. If there is a Grand Prix on the  weekend I normally start with the  Chequered Flag Formula 1 roundup, followed by the tale of countryside angst – the Archers and then another radio soap that I am enjoying, which although it has tragedy somehow doesn’t create the same level of misery for me – Homefront. It is great to listen to whilst cycling. Although for the record I do the bulk of my listening on byways and bridleways.  Roads are just so damn noisy you can’t here yourself think when on a bicycle.

Which means that there aren’t too many pictures – I must have been too busy listening.

Before I mention the pictures though I have been in touch with someone I have known for 40-odd years, he was one of my early bosses and someone I credit as one of my influences. I learnt a lot from him. We were catching up and he mentioned his cars (long hobby), I of course mentioned my bikes. Now he still lives in the area where I first knew him and I used to cycle regularly all over the place when I lived there. He mentioned that he used to cycle when he was younger but it would be terrifying where he lives because of the preponderance of motor traffic.

As a society we seem to be happy that people are driven from walking and cycling and we seem to think it is normal, or progress. Look around towns and see how cars, vans and lorries clog up the streets, to the detriment of those that can’t or don’t want to drive. Yet when we seem to focus on the needs of the motorist more than the other road users.  Take a look at schools during the morning arrival and afternoon pickup. You often see cars park up sometime before the pick up, clogging the roads for those wanting to get past.

The trouble is the whole attitude to cycling is that is is a second-class activity. Because a few cyclists might jump red lights all cyclists are treated like kids. So I was a bit annoyed to read that a Portsmouth Councillor who has seen his council preside over an increase in cycling injuries between 2012 and 2103 of 9% call for a red light & pavement cycling crackdown. Talk about trying to pass the buck. That seems to be victim blaming, in fact it makes me wonder if the plan is not to make the problem go away by driving more cyclists off their bikes into cars!

I think we need to ensure that those that are in charge of the road and cycling infrastructure understand cause and effect and we also need to ensure that their intended effect is not to drive cyclists off the roads. Talking about cause and effect there was a news item in the Cambridge News – “Cambridge traffic levels have remained ‘relatively flat’ for two decades – but number of parking fines hasn’t”. Well as anyone who has had the misfortune of driving into Cambridge will know the traffic congestion is pretty appalling and we have the highest rate of commuter cyclists in the UK. The primary cause of congestion is too much motor traffic trying to get into a pinch point. Which is a function of where people live, where they work or go to school and the level of urbanisation.) Although there are some idiots who seem to think that the high number of cyclists causes the congestion.  Now I reckon that  the high level of congestion is what causes the cycling.

Why have the number of parking fines increase – well perhaps the fines are too small relative to the congestion/parking charges. Maybe the fines need to be increased.

If the roads into a place get “improved” than that increase the chance of more congestion (A14), if there is more development around then again it increase the probability of congestion. So given little can be done in Cambridge to change the road structure then I reckon every opportunity needs to be taken to encourage people out of their cars. You can do this by having better alternate means of convenient and safe transport (decent cycle routes, decent bus lanes, better rail links, better use of the CGB). You can penalise drivers more (tolls).

Indeed business sources are often cited to justify more spending on road infrastructure, what happened to the Cambridge Futures report – recommending a congestion zone in Cambridge. That was sponsored by many of the Great and Good – yet got ignored.

You can’t just carry on doing more of the same – that will not work. Also trying to mix up different modes of transport can be a problem – ask this cyclist who caught his bike wheel in the tram lines in Nottingham, or this cyclist in Edinburgh again getting caught by tram lines.  The solution is not a patronising video. One of the worst things when riding a bike is having to deal with traffic and a very dodgy road surface.

To cap it all we then have our MPs who seem to want to indulge in victim blaming like local-ish MP Stewart Jackson – what a shameful diatribe. All I can say is that seems to be no evidence of evidence-driven policy – just cheap electioneering.  The MPs shared the  responsibility for the shameful levels of pollution in our cities – nine of which fail WHO guidelines.  Pollution linked to 28,000 deaths in the UK. I say pull your fingers out MPs, give a damn about the real issues.

And with that onto peaceful matters. In the skies above the fens a Blue Islands plane, practising for the direct flights between Jersey and Cambridge in the Summer of 2015? Or just passing through? It doesn’t seem to be on the current route map though.

Blue Islands Flight above Lodes Way

Across the Fields to Soham (I think)

Traffic Jam on Lodes Way
They moved to let me through without any hassle once I had taken the picture

NCN51 between Quy and Bottisham
Shared-use path – overgrown and narrow

Cambridge to Ipswich on the NCN51–more or less

Friday, 20th June 2014:For choice I like cycling in varying countryside, with gently undulating hills on hard-pack tracks, away from cars (and other motor vehicles) and of course we also know that the moon is made of cheese.

I also prefer not to retrace my route and either take a loop or catch the train home again. Whilst I am being idealistic I also prefer nice weather as well. But you can't have everything. One ride I do from time to time is  is cycle to Ipswich on the NCN51, more or less and then back by train.  A quick search on my Blog and it looks as if the last time I rode the entire route was back in May 2010.  I hadn’t realised that it was so long ago.  As rides go it passes through some pleasant countryside, it makes a pleasant day-ride without being over long (well for me anyway).

I generally follow, or attempt to follow the Sustrans NCN51 route. Although it isn’t always that straightforward in places. Being a Sustrans route it is also by no means the shortest route, it does go around the houses, literally in the towns like Bury St Edmunds and Stowmarket  and figuratively when it comes to the route between Bottisham and Newmarket. There is a signpost in Bottisham with the route to Newmarket signed as  6 miles, or 15 miles following the Sustrans route. That is quite a bit of indirection.

Having said that when I am cycling for pleasure and have the day then I will generally pick the scenic route, if I have a meeting then it is a different matter. To travel 2.5 times the distance when under time pressure is crazy.

This time around I followed NCN51 pretty closely (via SatNav) and didn’t take many picture close to Cambridge since I already have quite a few of those.  I did take this one of the Heath Road between Burwell and Exning though. It can be a very pleasant country lane – although you do get speeding vehicles from time to time.

Planning permission has also been granted for a 27.2MW Solar Farm  on are area of slightly over 60 hectares (a little under 150 acres)  down this road and to the left which will temporarily make this road much busier during the construction period. The planning documents do mention the issue of passing spaces, but a proposal for 3 temporary and 1 permanent passing place appears to have been withdrawn.

Whilst having a look on the web for details of this development it would seem that another Solar Farm is being talked about at Goosehall Farm between Burwell and Wicken, this one would be more than 200 acres in size apparently. There seems to be a push on to convert farm land into power generation. Of course being “green” it sounds good, but still turns fields into a more industrial landscape.  Perhaps we ought to call Car Parks Car Farms to make people feel better about them. I can only assume that Solar Farming is easier than real farming.

I can’t help feel that the whole approach to new housing and roads and solar farms is incredibly piecemeal. The latter development is very close to Wicken Fen and constrains the stewardship of an important area of wildlife.

Heath Road, Burwell
Permission Granted for a Solar Farm down the road

Here is the map of my ride and here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. The total distance, railway station to railway station is 112.3Km/70 miles according to Bike Route Toaster. It does undulate but not too much and the countryside makes for some very pleasant cycling. this time around I programmed my SatNav with the route and also paid attention to the signs. I would not have chosen the route through Newmarket.

I would also have cycled more directly from Barrow to Little Saxham and I find the Sustrans route through Bury St Edmunds confusing. this time around even with the SatNav I found that I was having to pay more attention to the traffic than the route my GPS was suggesting. Fortunately I kind of know where I should be heading. Next time I will turn left after crossing the A14 and then straight on.

Despite having the route programmed into my SatNav I missed the turn through the Supermarket Car park on Lliffe Way. I had also programmed to go the wrong way down Ipswich Street so I walked. I think that there is some sort of interaction between the OSM map and Bike Route Toaster which creates odd routings sometimes.

I also missed my turn in Ipswich but kind of new where I was heading. When cycling or driving I feel that it is way more important to pay attention to the road than the SatNav, however when driving generally the routes are well signposted. That is not always the case for Sustrans routes. They are generally signed, however the positioning of the blue signs can be somewhat haphazard and you can end up wending through some odd alleyways.

Cambridge to Ipswich – via NCN51

A Sprinkle of Red and White – Poppies and Daisies along Heath Road

once out of Newmarket the road climbs up and then down to Moulton (Pack Horse Bridge). There is another climb to Gazeley and then a right turn soon after Gazeley, down a By Road to Desning Hall.  the term By Road indicates a side road little travelled apparently.

Sustrans NCN51 – well signed – down a By Road

Once you have turned down the byroad then it does feel like pretty deep countryside – of the agricultural style.  Since there aren’t that many signs about it is pretty easy to see the Sustrans signs.

NCN51 Straight On
(Gazeley to Barrow)

The road undulates on this section as well, quite steep (for a flatlander) but not  very long.

Gazeley to Barrow

Despite the fact that the A14 isn’t far over the horizon it feels like deep countryside.

NCN51 Gazeley to Barrow

the fields look to be ripening well. Although this field seems to have some sort of weed problem.  I am not quite sure what it is though.

NCN51 Gazeley to Barrow

NCN51 Gazeley to Barrow

At Barrow you could quite easily head, more or less, straight on, but the route instead drops south and then makes its way back north again.  I am not really sure why, perhaps the detour is a quieter road. I have been both ways and I am not sure the extra distance is worth it.

Both routes join at Little Saxham, I couldn’t resist stopping and having a look at the Church of St Nicholas, one of 38 round-tower churches in Suffolk apparently.

Church of St Nicholas – Little Saxham

After cycling through the maze that is Bury St Edmunds, where NCN51 and NCN13 seem to randomly intertwine on the outskirts there is a cycle path that runs parallel to the road, but separated by a hedge.  You have to cross the road at one point but the secluded shared-use path continues until you reach the Heath Road (another Heath Road).  That short bit of path is most welcome after the chaotic routing in Bury St Edmunds, if only there was more such paths.

NCN51 Shared-use and separated from the road
Bury St Edmunds – Thurston

Even after the shared use path you still get a country lane with only couple of houses at the end of it. I have never seen a car on it I don’t think.  Then you have to cross a railway line. Tragically a cyclist was killed at a nearby crossing at Cattishall. The article indicates that around 76 trains pass per day at speeds of up to 75mph. You do have to pay attention, trains are surprisingly quiet until they are upon you.

According to the press there are plans to replace the Thurston crossing with a footbridgeAlthough there are complaints that the bridge will be an eyesore for the nearby residents.  As far as I am concerned the railways and footbridges haven’t a good track record when it comes to get bicycles over them.  The matter is discussed here – apparently underpass are too expensive.

The Planning Application was only the day before my ride – 19th June 2014

This is what the crossing look like from the Thurston side. There is no light to warn of passing trains. There is a Samaritans notice though. You can also see houses in the background

Thurston Railway Crossing

The View of the railway line from the Cambridge direction, with what looks like a collection of spare bits of track in case a giant want to play with his/her train set.

Up-rail from the Thurston Crossing

As if often the way with Sustrans routes the route crosses back under the line soon after. In fact the route could be shortened  by avoiding the crossing and Thurston altogether.  It wiggles about a bit and passes through Woolpit are rather nice village.  After Woolpit the route follows yet another Heath Road – which seems to gave acquired a new shared-use path, sometime in the last few years.

I am easily confused and that occurs most often when Sustrans routes also seem undecided about what direction they wish you to take. It is even worse in the middle of a busy town.  As I cycled into Stowmarket it started well. I turned off the “direct route” onto Chilton Way which took me through Stowmarket Recreation Ground  - which was busy with people of all ages enjoying the sun. I should have mapped the direct NCN51 route along Finborough Road/Tavern Street/Station Road West and then right onto Gipping Way. (It sound more complicated than it is). Instead I turned down Lliffe Way and didn’t realise I had to cycle through the ASDA car park.  I then found I had incorrectly planned a route cycle the wrong way down a one way street – Ipswich Street. So I walked it (not far) and the carried on until Takers Lane brought me to the main road.

By and large the route follows the Needham Road but manages to use a shared-use path into Stowmarket and then you head out back over the A14 before  reaching Sally Woods Lane – a bridleway – named after an inhabitant of the area. I found it perfectly rideable on my hybrid bike (Maisie). But some care is needed with in places because of potholes and  the loose surface – it is a bridleway. Apparently horse riders prefer not to tide on tarmac.

Sally Woods Lane (NCN51 nr Stowmarket)

The bridleway brings you out on the Coddenham Road where the next challenge is crossing the A140.   At this point the A140 is a dual carriageway. As cars come swopping down they are warned that it is an accident site and   in this Google StreetView there is a speed camera was well as 50mph signs. But not much else – apart from a sign advertising services and a roundabout. This is what drivers see just as they approach the crossing. As it happens I drove along the road (both ways) during the Summer visiting friends in Walberswick. I would have been even more careful than I was at the time had I known.

Crossing the A140 - NCN51

Strangely the approach taken to “warn” cyclists (and pedestrians) is to put up loads of posts indicating that it is a shared-use path. Fortunately there is a large island in the middle, however cars really do whizz by. Pay attention.

Crossing the A140 - NCN51

The route passes Shrubland Hall and grounds, this is the Lodge. At one point the 24-bedroom house and Park was up for sale (£6,500,000). It is now a 7* Hotel.  Although I can’t see any pricing information on the website – perhaps if you have to ask you can’t afford it, although how do you book it?

The Lodge – Shrubland Hall

After that it was “downhill” all the way. Well once I’d reached the outskirts of Ipswich. Once again I  stopped following the route (not deliberately) – just here. I found my way again here. is it me or  do you need to know where you are going if you cycle into strange places using Sustrans Route. More than once, in a new town I cycle on the roads and find the railway station using the road signs – they tend to be more direct and less ambiguous with less hopping along strange alleys. Once I know where I am going then it becomes easier to use the Sustrans routes.

Car slowing for a speed bump in Ipswich

There is a train every hour from Ipswich to Cambridge – not fast at around 1 hour 20 minutes, but quite pleasant.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Time travel–an old plane, an old ride–and people aren’t parking and riding!

Thursday, 25th September 2014: I knew that the the last surviving Vulcan bomber, XH558 was expected to fly over Cambridge, but wasn’t sure when and I wasn’t planning to go looking for it in the skies.  I have been to the Mildenhall airshow with my family, when it was running. It was quite a spectacle – with a lot on display.  Apparently the last one was in 2001.

So as I cycled I heard rather than saw a load aeroplane in the sky – which form a distance looked rather like a bit fighter jet. At this point I looked around for a decent place to stop and frantically pulled my camera out of its bag, turned it on, checked the settings and took a few pictures. I wished I stuck on my 100-300mm lens (200mm to 600mm in 35mm terms). Unfortunately there were trees, lampposts and pylons all around. I did manage to get a few pictures though. Here is the route it took with a larger view of the map.

Even better it came around again so I got pictures of the distinctive delta-wing. It is a surprisingly manoeuvrable aircraft as well loud. Apparently it cost £7m to get this one flying, the last one and relies on donations. Which compared to the cost of the latest F-35C Lightning at US$142.6M is a bargain, although I am not sure if that includes the powerplant in the F-35C. (Here is a BBC article on costs and support costs of Britain’s initial order.)

Vulcan – XH558 above Cambridge

The plan makes quite an old school noise as it flies, which can be heard on this You Tube video.   The Vulcan is best known for its deployment during the Falklands war (well to me anyway.) Here is a program – 47 minutes – on the “longest bombing raid in history”.

Vulcan – XH558 above Cambridge

Before moving on to what will be a short post, two recent news items caught my eye. The first was a crash involving a cyclist. It was on the B1102 between Swaffham Prior and Burwell. A cyclist suffered serious injuries in a crash involving a car and led to a road closure for more than three hours.

It is not a pleasant road to cycle along, especially during the rush hour. It is not the widest of roads, but straight and motor vehicles seem to be in a hurry and you don’t always get much space as a cyclist. The alternative is a rather narrow shared-use path. Here is a Streetview look at the scene from eh Burwell end.  Strangely as you get closer to Swaffham Prior it goes dark and the Streetview map seems to be in some sort of suit.  I have tried two different computers, at first I thought it was a problem with Chrome 64 beta. ere is the Street view from Rogers Road, just before Swaffham Prior. It makes me wonder whether Google has instituted a black out because of the accident?

Scrap Park and Ride charges

The second item that caught my eye was “Cambridge park and ride: Calls to scrap £1 parking charge grown as passenger numbers fall”. As reported before there has been a 15% drop in passenger numbers. Apparently the new parking charge system cost £321,000 to put in and was expected to raise an extra £920,000 per year.

It seems that in the Internet age when most organisations seek to make money by making their customers’ lives easier our Transport chiefs don’t get it and feel that they are entitled to do what they want without regard to their “customers”.  I have seen the same effect when my daughter came home for a week during the Summer, she decided it would be easier to park in the back streets of Cambridge than go through the palaver when she wanted to pop into town.  Whilst the powers that be might think that the net increase to customers was relatively small most people see a system that has wasted money on charging (£300,000+) and increased the cost of parking from £0 to £1 an infinite increase.

Wednesday, 18th June 2014:

Now I generally always cycle into Cambridge (and now back in time) I had to be in the centre of Cambridge during the afternoon so I took a great circle route to get in a bit of pedalling. I didn’t have enough time to get out to Wicken Fen  so I did a circle of the Wilbrahams/Fulbourn loop.

I was a little surprised, to hear the skirl of the pipes after crossing over the A14,  but not too surprised. I had seen this chap before and had a chat with him about his pipe practice.

Bagpiper  next the to A14 – Wilbraham Road

In Cambridge I parked under the Grand Arcade and walked to my destination.  I saw this sign – I hadn’t realised that School Lane was in prison, this must be a protest trying to get it free.

Free School Lane

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Space for Cycling (Lodes Way for me)

Monday (16th) and Tuesday (17th) June 2014:

Space for Cycling

I will finish with some pictures – but first I must mention a post that has sat on my desktop for a day or so.l This is from the “Ely Cycling Campaign – “Local councillors fail to support Space for Cycling”. Now perhaps actions speak louder than words and certainly here in the Cambs area we seem to good getting Government cash for funding cycling stuff. We have a Local transport plan that mentions the word “cycle” 280 times, it sets out the need to reduce travel by private car and to make sustainable travel a viable and attractive option as two of the 8 challenges. However I reckon that it is failing to grasp some of the real issues and is trying to be all things to all people.

So perhaps it is not surprising that our Councillors don’t appear to be supporting Space for Cycling  in the link currently only 5 councillors out of 69 or7% have signed up. (1 Conservative, 1 UKIP and 3 Liberal Democrats no Labour – although there are only 7 labour councillors).  That is pretty appalling really.  We seem to be stumbling into global warming whilst driving looking in the rear-view mirror. We need to stop driving and get on our bikes…

Cut the Crap

it often both amazes me and appals me how utterly useless and worse than useless (dangerous) some cycling infrastructure is. Most cyclists will have seen it. Shared-use paths with intermittent signage, paths that are too narrow or overgrown. Paths that take you along the dooring zone or up the inside of traffic. Well Read this “Cut the crap” examples so bad you couldn’t make it up.

I reckon that there ought to be a law  making the creation of such crappy cycle facilities a criminal offence.

Death on the Roads

the Government's 2013 Road Casualty Stats were published today (day of post) and pedal cyclists get their own focus. There was a 2% fall in seriously inured cyclists in 2013, the first reported fall since 2004. My advice – stay clear of HGVs and remember those drivers often “fail to look properly”.

Two rides around the Lodes Way area

Monday’s ride was a quick trip, fresh air and exercise to make up for the fact I don’t commute to work.

Natural Gas Refilling Station along Great Drove

Dog Rose – near Upware

Poppies on Black Droveway

Flax – off Black Droveway

Tuesday’s ride was also quick, I had to attend an event in the evening in Cambridge.

F-15E Strike Eagle above Lodes Way

Grass – Lodes Way

Water Lily (Nymphaeacae) – Reach Lode

That evening I parked next to Great St Mary’s, they have a good set of cycle racks along the edge,  which generally have a bit of space in the early evening.  Look at the long shadows as people go about their business – from bow ties to rucksacks.

King’s Parade Cambridge

And finally a Cambridge tale of cycle thievery and comeuppance.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Every one’s a Poppy–Pictures from a ride on Lodes Way

Sunday, June 15th 2014: Just some pictures and a few words. When I have been away for a week or two it is rather nice to cycle around the Lodes Way and see things afresh, or rather evolved. At this time of year (June) the crops in the fields are shooting up, poppies are out and even the ditches are going green.

I didn’t recognise this scene at first when I looked at this picture. I had to look at the GPS trace of the ride. After riding through White Fen I cycled alongside the Swaffham Bulbeck Lode (byway) and then turned off towards Lord’s Ground Drove. this track is just after Lythel’s Cottages.

Poppies between Lythel’s Cottages and Lord’s Ground Farm

More Poppies - Lord’s Ground Drove

Poppies along the edge of a field of beetroot (Sedge Fen)

Poppies along the edge of a field of beetroot (Sedge Fen)

Wheat in the field – Upware Road – good weed control – Poppies at the Margins

Poppy standing out in a crowd (of wheat)

Poppies in a field behind Swaffham Bulbeck

I can’t end without linking to this Presentation on Carless Cities on the website. It wasn’t what I was expecting as I assumed that would be on the “motoring” side of the equation.

My main concern is that we don’t just stop at car-less cities villages, towns and the countryside  also deserve a bit or peace, quiet and fresh air as well.

And finally – “The car makers’ ‘tricks’ to boost their MPG that leaves drivers forking out up to £400 more every year for petrol”. Well what a surprise, mind you the way many drivers speed up and then need to slow down, repeatedly when driving means I haven’t got that much sympathy for those ‘poor’ drivers.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

A Fine Friday Cycle–and some news!

Friday, June 13th 2014: this was a bit of a POET’s day ride, although I had recently been on my hols and carted my Brompton around with me I hadn’t gotten that much cycling in. Well I was travelling with some of my family so it would have been a bit unreasonable to go off on my own. So I took the opportunity for a early start to the weekend to go off cycling.

But first the news, well the news that caught my eye and hung around long enough on my desktop

Tax Disks – a thing of the past

I have just renewed my Tax disk on my car, for a while I always went to the local Post Office, mainly to support it. But you can’t buck progress and I find it so much easier to do on-line. Mainly because I can just sit down at my computer and do it. No getting dressed or hunting out documents (MOT and Insurance) which get checked on-line at the time of application and then a few days later it turns up in the post. Except that this time it won’t be turning up in the post – it won’t be necessary to show a tax disc from October 2014 in the UK.

It seems reasonable after all with ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) vehicles can be checked as they pass appropriately equipped Police vehicles and roadside cameras. Although this could apparently cost the economy £167m a year according to the RAC. Is it me, or do the RAC seem to be an old-fashioned organisation. Their position on cycling always seems rather defensive – eg “RAC Foundation slams MP’s call for tougher action on drivers who kill and injure cyclists”.

Changing Driver behaviour – fines or lessons

Apparently “nearly 500 fraudulent applications for vehicle insurance made every day”. reports the DM. I still think that the time has come to make cars smarter and to monitor driving and more effectively report on poor driving and speeding. My approach would not to immediately fine errant drivers, but to use training courses to change driver behaviour. Mind you when I looked on the web to see what evidence there is to indicate that such courses work it was somewhat anecdotal- “Speed awareness course work” and “Speed awareness courses: do they work?” and finally “Research reveals value of speed awareness courses”. Although in the latter case the research was a survey of attitudes rather than a look after before and after speeding.

Although this report in the massive drop in speeding fines issues in Cambridgeshire – more than 44,000 in 2010 compared to 23,800 in 2013 does raise the issue that the reduction might not be because drivers are better behaved but because there are fewer speed patrols and active speed cameras.  Which does highlight the old adage – “you get what you measure” which isn’t necessarily what you want.

More Haste – Less Speed – More Fat – Less Happiness

As I get older I find myself thinking more “old-farty” type things such as life was easier when I was a boy, youngsters have so much pressure, or the roads were less congested when I first started driving.  I try not to say them though. To be fair I also point out how medical science has improved significantly, motor vehicles are actually much safer and what did we do before the “innernet”.

One of the big changes has been the rise in car ownership, despite what people think they seem to have gotten cheaper compared with public transport. The trouble is humans activity is synchronised to the clock, with the main events being going to and from school and work. Which here in Cambridge have a huge effect on congestion in the City (and probably most towns and cities). This will only get worse as there is to be a massive increase in housing developments in and around the city.

So I am not surprised to read that “Workers who cycle, walk and use public transport are ‘happier than drivers’” Apparently the Guided Busway was singled out as beneficial to stress levels. (If you are interested a report has also been published saying the the CGB contract was appropriate for its time!)

I am not surprised, cycling might not have the same potential for high-speed as a car, however I do find cycling is more reliable when it comes to getting to a place on time. When I set of on my bike I know that the journey is unlikely to be affected by traffic, when (if) I set off in my car through Cambridge I have now idea how much I am likely to be held up.

Why does this matter – well it is very easy to take a myopic view and say that congestion is hurting the economy, well one one the significant costs on the economy is public health. and apparently “Obesity is a ‘slow motion car crash’ that may bankrupt the NHS, says its chief executive”.

Economics in Action

We have had a pretty good Park and Ride system in Cambridge. You park, you pay a bus fair and then you get on a bus which occasionally can use bus lanes to get into the centre of Cambridge.  However, apparently it worried some Councillors? that some people were turning up to the P&R and then walking or cycling to their intended destination and not paying the price. So a charge and charging system was introduced.  The result, well, apparently “passenger numbers plummet by 14% after parking charges come in at Cambridge park and ride sites”. Why well partly the cost and partly the extra delay incurred because you have quite a queue to pay for your parking.  (My take on the P&R numbers the last time I wrote about it.)

It turns out that “Commuters will walk 25 minutes to destination to park for free in Cambridge – study”. So well done “transport chiefs” you seem to have spent a load of money putting in a complex system to charge people using the P&R car park and ended up clogging the streets. Still on the bright side it does mean those street parkers are getting a bit of exercise.

Whilst on the subject of economics in action when there are developments (both housing and industrial/retail) a “tax” is due, developer contributions, which offset the impact of the developments. Apparently East Cambridgeshire District Council has handed back more then £500,000 to Sainsbury because they couldn't spend it appropriately.   It makes me wonder why the Cambs area has so many councils if this is the result. This is insulting to the rate payers.


The Ride – Lode to Prickwillow and back

There that’s a few things of my desktop. The ride – well there was no purpose, I just felt like I needed/wanted/deserved a slightly longer ride after so much driving during my hols. So I cycled up to Prickwillow via Ely and back via Fordham. Here is the map of my ride on Bike Route Toaster. It is either country lanes or tracks or shared-use paths and more or less a loop. I prefer loops.  It is a shade over 60Km/38miles and flat – assuming you start from Lode. I guess you could park at Anglesey Abbey, although I don’t know if they charge or not!

Fields of Wheat just south of  Ely (NCN11)

NCN11 alongside River Great Ouse – approaching Ely
This view will feature a flyover soon – enjoy it now
subject to the Secretary of State

Shanghai (上每) sailing on the River Great Ouse

Poppies near Isleham

Bird-watching – Burwell Lode

Burwell Lode

Burwell Fen

Freshly Cut Grass – near White Fen – an evocative smell