Tuesday, November 29, 2011

To Blog or not to Blog

Although it doesn’t pay to be introspective all the time one of the many pleasant aspects of cycling is that it provides good thinking time. There have been two topics on my mind recently.  One is why is there so much passion about cycling and cyclists? You only need to see a news article about some cycling incident to see loads of heated comments from cyclists, anti-cyclists and those that both drive and cycle or claim to anyway. An example of this is a recent report on the BBC website – “Cyclists ‘urged to get insurance’. There are 525 comments and it is now closed. But that is something I’ll come to in another post.

The other thing I’ve been thinking about just recently is Blogging and the reason for that was on reading this Post by the Grumpy Cyclist he mentions being referenced by a blog called Cycling Info or rather a website also including a Blog. One of the pages on the website is a list of UK Cycling Blogs (and websites), hence the reference. Now of course I had a look to see if my Blog was listed, it wasn’t although several Cambridge-related ones were such as Cambridge Cycling Campaign and Cottenham Cyclist.

So I thought should I use the Contact form and get my blog listed and if I did, well what sort of Blog was it. This got me thinking, I like to think of it providing gentle encouragement to cycle and so would consider it Cycling Advocacy, but it is also personal and it is an outlet for my photography as well as being a bit of a diary. One thing I don’t do is racing though. I also like to think that whilst I am not anti-car I do think that given the population density in the UK and the Global Warming issues, obesity issues and the fact that oil is a limited resource we could do with reducing our dependence on the car as a gratuitous means of transport.

So in the spirit of experimentation I thought I’d see what effect my listing had on on the popularity of my Blog, I’ll report back later. There is also a growing list of cycling related blogs on the CTC forum here.

As you can see I have a list of Blogs I read, they tend to favour the Advocacy type of blog, but I like Blogs that celebrate cycling and ones with interesting imagery.  What is also interesting is that the frequency of publishing. As time has gone by I have added more Blogs to my list, partially because the frequency of some has dropped off and so I can cope with more. If every one started publishing thousands of words a day I would have to ration myself though. That doesn’t mean I would stop listing them, I just might have to skim read them or just look at the pictures.

It also seems that some of the Blogs have stopped some for months and two for a year or more. So I do wonder why other people blog and why they stop. Real Cycling announced a break but has re-started, whilst Crap cycling & Walking in Waltham Forest just seems to have stopped on the fourth anniversary.

Now my Blog is in its fourth year, there are times when I find it tricky finding the time to post, although they also seem to coincide with periods when I am also finding it tricky finding the time to cycle. There are times when I despair of the short-sightedness of the powers that be when it comes to cycling provision. For me cycling is not about Lycra, or racing or whatever it is about making life more pleasant from health to wealth to leisure. What is more by getting more people to cycle we’d all benefit and to get more people to cycle we badly need to improve cycling facilities. If we did so then those that still need to drive cars and lorries and buses would also benefit.

Mind you I live in Cambridgeshire so shouldn’t I be grateful for the “fantastic provision for cycling we get here” – well frankly no, could do a lot better would be my simple summary. If you don’t believe me then here is David Hembrow’s assessment – “The truth about Cambridge”.  Or this Biking Brits blog post “Build it And They WILL Come” with a rather nice video.

An interesting measure of how serious Cambridge is will be whether it adopts a city-wide 20mph speed limit. Although I think that a change of attitudes will also be necessary as discussed by the BBC’s Transport correspondent in London Tom Edwards – “Will a borough-wide 20mph speed limit work”. Such speed limits are for those marginalised by the existence of motor vehicles – not just cyclists, children, the elderly and the infirm – “Avoidable Tragedy with 30Mk/h zone

Whilst I am at it – I mentioned that there are health benefits – well not just health but wealth as well – “How Biking Can Save Cities Billions of Dollars in Health Expenses” with an American perspective. Or from an education perspective – how a cycling project in India helps stop the number of girls dropping out of school - “How cycling set deprived Indian Girls on a life-long journey”. Or from a mental health perspective – “Can you Afford NOT to Use Your Bicycle for Commuting?”.

Indian School Children

Coming back to the Blog that started all this introspection – Cycling Info – there is an interesting post – “Cycling Stats in UK”. Apparently whilst there has been an increase of 12% over the last 10 years in road cycling it has been fuelled by more off the road cycling. If I read the data correctly it suggests that cycle ways and shared-use paths (perhaps) are what has driven more people to cycle. (yep I am aware of the pun there.)

Off-road cycling anyone?

Whilst I am thinking of it a quick pothole update.  I reported some cracks in the road on the Lodes Way Cycle route, firstly through the Cambridgeshire County Council reporting system, I reported it on the 17th of October 2011 and it was closed on the 18th of October 2011.  The status was given as closed, but there was no feedback, was the problem not considered to be serious enough, or did it not have sufficient priority or perhaps the road is scheduled to get some work done some time in the future.  It seemed to me that if you are going to put in place a reporting system then it would also seem appropriate to provide feedback beyond that of “Closed”.

The cracks in the road on Lodes Way (Headlake Drove)

So I reported it again, this time through the CTC system. Here is the post – “Boats, cracks and dogs!”. Their system also has not delivered much in the way of feedback although I guess the issue is really one of the Council not delivering feedback.

And finally – Global warming – what global warming – “Daffs that got their season in a muddle as world enjoys 11th warmest year”. I can afford not to cycle – but can our kids afford it for us all not to cycle?

Upware Daffodils (April 2006)


Monday, November 28, 2011

Another lunchtime meeting!

Tuesday, 22nd November: A quick post today as I am starting to fall behind in my posts again. Although unfortunately I have not been doing a lot of cycling this week so I should be able to catch up.

I also plan to get a few links off my Browser window as well – this is slightly old news, but it got both local and national coverage. Another story about a van getting stuck under the railway bridge at Ely and this one in the Daily mail about the hapless driver. Apparently there have been nine this year. I do wonder if we as a nation and no getting so used to being told what to do we can’t cope without it. Of course as a cyclist what worries me is a minor bit of inattention like that could have terrible consequences for a cyclist. There are quite a few signs and during the rush hour it can become quite busy as tall vehicles wait to turn off onto the by-pass over the level crossing.

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This view looking back shows the build up of the queue.

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As reported in this rather sad case, where an 85-year old driver hit some cyclists and carried on not realising what he had done.  The trouble is we have come to be so reliant on cars and the alternatives can be pretty difficult that perhaps some drivers carry on too far into the old-age. Certainly I know that when my father was alive it was a big decision, but he was able to make it because my parents lived near to my sister who was able to provide transport for them (for the inevitable things like hospital visits).

Apparently it is “Middle-class motorists (who are) hit hard as costs soar 14% a year”.  Personally I think there is an inevitability about it. In a bizarre way as cars cost more to run it makes it even harder to do without them as they suck up money that might have been spent on train fares or buses.

It is not just car drivers, here is a case of a school-run coach drivers who was photographed doing a SUDOKU puzzle at the wheel. That must worry parents whose children get a free school bus because their journey to school is considered too dangerous for walking or cycling. I was once in a Coach crash.  I used to work at a company who provided subsidised coaches to and from the factory. One very snowy and icy morning on a country lane as the coach slowed down it slid off the road into a small ditch and ended up leaning slightly. Another coach had to take us the last couple of miles or so.

I seem to remember when doing A-level economics that in normal supply-demand economics if the demand rises the price rises and vice-versa and if the price goes up then demand falls and vice-versa. I seem to remember that during the Irish Potato famine that as the price of potatoes went up then the demand increased. It occurred because people could not afford other foods because their money was taken up with potatoes so they ended up buying only potatoes. I’d forgotten the term for such a product but, thanks to Wikipedia, it is known as a “Giffen Good”. However according to the article what I was taught was debunked in 1984.

Apparently the EU wants to “end tax breaks on company cars”, there are favourable tax breaks in 18 member states. (Here is the paper if you are interested – the UK is in the list of 18 states – Table 5.12). It goes to show just in car ownership has become embedded in the fabric of employment as well as life. This seems unfair to me and of course promotes a status-quo of car ownership. (Yes, in the past I had a company car and didn’t turn it down.)

You sometimes see the phrase “war on the motorist” although the first hit I get is from a cyclist’s perspective. Well it would seem that it is a two-way thing. We now have “Disgruntled motorists BLOW(ing) UP fourteen parking meters in protest at charges”. Is tis rally a war?  Although I am not sure how they know it is disgruntled motorists exactly, that seems to be circumstantial evidence. The trouble is that at the end of the day it is just vandalism, plain and simple. We all end up footing the bill although hopefully they can get motorists to pay more (although many of us are motorists as well.)

So is the war escalating, with spying taking place. “Traffic warden ‘caught on camera relieving himself up a wall in broad daylight’”. So it is not just Councillors who have a problem – traffic wardens do as well.

Whilst I am having a rant about motor vehicles, here is a serious case of fly-tipping “One MILLION tyres covering 50 acres is found” – although actually theses tyres were collected with the owner hoping to sell them to China. (If you follow the link you’ll see that it is in south Carolina – and they have spelt tyre with the US spelling – tire.

The Cambridge MP, Julian Huppert has called for a “blanket 20mph limit across Cambridge”, which I support. It might also cut down on the number of speed limit signs rather than swapping between 20mph and 30mph all the time. I certainly feel there has been benefit along Mill Road, both when I cycle and drive along it. I do think that there also needs to be enforcement of that limit and I feel that at least for a first offence compulsory speed awareness training wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Speeding vehicles creates noise and pollution and make it difficult for the young, the inform and those pushing prams/pushchairs to cross roads and get around. So I feel that this can also improve the quality of life for all.  Here is a case where one house-owner was so fed up with speeding cars in his village he painted a 15-ft high 30MPH sign on the side of his house. That is big society eh.

Talking of big society – here is an interesting report of the Mayor of London’s promise to make “a London where children & adults cycle and walk to school or work and feel safe to do so”. Except of course if you read the Post that is not what has happened, and it would seem that the infernal combustion engine has priority in London.

Enough of that, I find myself often using meetings in Cambridge as an excuse to cycle. Today was not exception. I had arranged to meet someone for Lunch and recently have been to Reach and Wilbraham and Fulbourn.  This time around we met in the Robin Hood in Cherry Hinton.

I took a bit of a circle route and headed out along NCN51 up through the Newmarket Road park and Ride and then down Airport Cycleway. The only snag is crossing the road at the roundabout. I admit that I do get slightly irritated by cycle ways that are let down by the fine detail. The trouble is leading cyclists on to a difficult crossing makes us feel marginalised and I reckon is why there are some red-light-jumping cyclists. Treat cyclists as second class and they’ll behave in a second –class way. I know it is no excuse.

As sometimes happens, in fact more often than you might think, a car driver stopped to allow me to cross. It was a grey day and I struggled to see what I might want to take pictures of. Especially as I was needing to keep going, although not late.

I did stop to take a picture of this plan parked up where they test the engines. The big earth bank stops most of the propeller or jet wash, depending upon the type of plane. It is near the entrance to the Newmarket Road park & Ride and despite the bank you can sometimes get “hit” by the artificial wind. you also sometimes get a strong paraffin smell in the air.

This plane is a Lockheed C-130H Hercules, flown by the Royal Swedish Air force and here it is again. it sill surprises me how quickly you can find further information on a specific plane just by searching on the Internet.

The view along Airport Cycle way. This isn’t the widest of shared-sue paths, however you don’t get many pedestrians along it.You go get cars parked up in the various gaps as plane-spotters wait for an interesting plane to come in. This airfield sees quite a wide range of different aircraft.

The pub did have some cycle parking, good and the Abbot was delicious (the bangers and cheesy mash was good as well). Before I parked up I took this picture looking down Cherry Hinton road at the traffic-light controlled crossroads.  I wonder if that cyclist is an RLJ?

He does seem to be slowing down.

If you look closely he has gone past the red light but I can’t tell whether he is now cycling on the pavement or the road.

On the Streetview you can see that the pavement is shared-use and so although technically the cyclist might have been an RLJ he might only have cycled onto the shared-used pavement.

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And finally, climate change, what climate change – well the baffling rise in temperatures that has left resorts in the Tirol and Salzburg regions somewhat devoid of snow. (yes I know that it might just be a random fluctuation.

And really finally – some amazing Streetview images from a Googler’s trip round the planet.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Lodes Way – Misty Fens and Bird Watchers galore–part 2

Sunday, 20th November: A quick recap ride – a ride on the more solid paths on Lodes Way and NCN51 with a trip round Wicken Fen. Here is the route and here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. Just of 50Km/30miles in round numbers.

By the time I got up to Burwell Lode it was starting to get darker and mistier. As it happened I also bumped into MikeC who I haven’t bumped into for quite a while cycling around these parts. I think that the extra routes now available around and about Lodes Way and the fact I’ve not been cycling quite as much recently have both combined to reduce the probability. We used to cross paths more frequently.

So we stopped for a while and caught up and Mike educated me on the ways of the bird-watchers. We also discussed the design of the proposed Burwell Lode bridge whilst I was also trying, but failing to take pictures of birds. 

Wherever we looked there seemed to be watchers in the mist with there big bits of glass. These were over on Newnham drove by the Burwell Fen Farm buildings.

There were people along various of the hedge fencerows.  As you can see the mist had started filling up the low-lying bits of fen and was rolling in. It was also a grey day so the sun was more a red glow than a sun.

It also seemed that every cluster of people had at least one tripod between them. These were up the right-hand bank of the Lode (looking towards Upware).

A setting sun and rolling mists and dedicated bird-watchers.

The same picture but at a slightly wider angle.

Although the mist was rolling in, some areas remained clear for some time – this is the Lode Way path as it approaches Burwell Lode.

As I mentioned, people everywhere, these were standing on the left bank of Burwell Lode. They’d just spotted something, but I wasn’t quick enough with my lens – I couldn’t focus in time to scan around.

The same view as a few picture back – but that mist has rolled in some more, if this were sea we’d have to send out for the lifeboats to rescue those people.

The mist was also gathering on the Lode.

As we stood it got darker and mistier – I kept taking pictures although my camera required slower and slower shutter speeds to take the picture.

All but the dog seem interested in something over on the fen.

As the sun set there were red patches dotted around and even the people seemed to have moved on.

At this point it was getting colder, so Mike and I both set off, me to finish my loop of Wicken Fen and Mike headed down Lodes Way – and here he is. Just after I took this he stopped and looked off to the right with his binoculars having spotted something.

There was time for a couple of pictures after heaving my bike up onto the footbridge. The mists still hadn’t quite reached us.

This mist was heading down the Lode and the path along side though.

By now taking pictures was tricky as it was reasonably dark so I cycled around Wicken Fen and then stopped on the Maltings path to take a picture with my camera on a fence post to steady it. Priory Farm is in the clump of trees. The mist looks a bit more solid in the picture than in real life I think.

From the same spot a picture of one of the trees along a track – I have taken pictures of these trees quite a few times.

After that it was head down and build up a bit of warmth. Mind you although misty bits were cold there were also warm patches of air as I cycled through the villages – you notice things like that when wearing shorts.

Lodes Way – Misty Fens and Bird Watchers galore–part 1

Sunday, 20th November: With time short my cycling seems to have fallen into a pattern with a trip to St Ives and back every couple of weeks and some route around Wicken Fen every week.

Although I forgot to mention that when I was cycling back from St Ives on Saturday as I cycled up to the Swavesey CGB stop I head bells sounding from the Church – St Andrew’s, Swavesey. This picture was taken in August last year. When is was younger I used to ring Church bells, it is good fun, our Church tower had gas lamps with mantles rather than electric lighting and to quote Wikipedia  “a bell-ringer is a person who rings, tolls or peals a large bell, usually a church bell, by tugging on a long rope”. There is more to it than that. The bells are usually left hanging down and in need to be rung up in preparation. This involves letting the bell swing and tugging on the rope to make the swing larger each time until it almost swings over the top and rests against a wooden bar.

Then to ring it you tug on the rope let in swing and ring and then you can either let it stop against the bar or let it ring again. It all depends upon the way you tug the rope. If you want to learn more here is a Discover bell ringing website. When I first started I found the ringing quite easy, it was the stopping leaving the bell in the up position that I found difficult. Usually you ring a series of changes, essentially a permutation of the various bells. (“We had a fine peal of 8”. So we would ring out a permutation, but then one bell would carry on dinging – my bell as I struggled to “park it”.

Listening to the bells I was reminded of that and thought – hum Ill take a video and see if they have the same problem. No sooner had I thought it than the peal stopped and then dong, dong, dong – one of the bells carried on ringing. Whoever it was has my sympathy. I wish I had also been a bit quicker with my camera.

Whilst talking about sounds ringing out, so to speak there must have been a game on at Cambridge United and sufficient attendance to make themselves head over near Stourbridge Common as I got back into the City.

St Andrews Church, Swavesey – August 2010

Anyway back to the ride – I couldn’t find an exact previous map match, although I am sure I’ve been on this route before. As the weather gets colder and despite the lack of sufficient rain there has been some and so I find myself not cycling much along the Harrison’s Drove Bridleway and alongside  Wicken Lode. Instead I stick to the more solid paths, especially at dusk. So here is the route and here is the Bike Route Toaster Link. Just of 50Km/30miles in round numbers.

For a change I also took my long lens with me – 100mm to 300mm which give 200m to 600mm in 35mm terms.  When out cycling I only take one lens that way if I fall off then I don’t risk damaging too much of my camera equipment in one go.  And yes I do fall off from time to time, a combination of my inattention and slippery, rutted bridleways usually.

I was hoping that with the longer lens if there were some short-eared owls around Wicken Fen still then I might stand half a chance of getting a picture or two. I’d set off later than the previous day so tried not to hang around too much and didn’t take any pictures until after the first leg along Low Fen Droveway around Honey Hill and Snouts Corner.

when I did stop and took out my camera I did realise just how different the lens was compared with the 14 – 140mm (28mm to 280mm) lens I normally use. With a long lens you need to think more about the picture you are going to take before you get there. Still I managed to get this tree into the picture just.

Around Snouts Corner there are two runs of large pylons – which all look a bit confused here. The leaves have pretty much dropped from many, but not all of the trees.

Along the track towards Allicky Farm – a typical picture of a farm with stacks of hay bales and farming equipment “lying” around.

As it was a Sunday I passed quite a few people walking, some with dogs. I use a bicycle as an excuse to get some fresh air and exercise, dogs also provide a pretty good excuse. On these regular paths the dogs are usually well behaved – at least they leave me alone as I cycle past. This is the route of the old Cambridge – Mildenhall railway line where it used to run behind Anglesey Abbey.

With my long lens the pictures tend to be a bit different – which is of course the reason I use it. This is Lodes Way as it passes through White Fen up to the purpose built bridge over Swaffham Bulbeck Lode.

I think that the development of the Lodes Way has definitely opened up new places to go for families (as well as regular walkers and cyclists). This time I passed a family with Dad towing the youngest. They have stopped to look at something I would guess. The Mum and older child have already disappeared out of sight. When I passed the first two the child was busy pedalling nineteen to the dozen (which means like mad). Also other path users have to remember they don’t really understand that there are sides to cycle and pass on. In addition as they pass they are so busy smiling and generally having fun they can sometimes head for you. It is great to see.

I did stop on the bridge for the obligatory pictures up and down the Lode.

The old footbridge “down” the Lode. They knew how to save money in the old days.

As you can see there was quite a lot of cloud cover and it was also getting misty.

My next stop was the Reach lode Bridge – although it is by no means obtrusive, it does provide a slightly higher viewpoint than the rest of the flatlands around. This is the view down the Lode towards Reach.

And yes, by the looks of things there was also going to be a lot of bird-watcher activity. It looked as if the serious bird-watchers had driven in – later on you’ll see what sort of expensive and equipment they use. Or as we say there was a fair bit of expensive glass dotted around Wicken Fen.

There were quite a few cyclists also on the bridge – parked a bit closer.

As I cycled along Lodes Way there seemed to be people with binoculars and/or cameras with huge lens all over the place – clearly the short-eared owls had not exhausted the snack supply (voles).

Long before I got there I remembered to take a picture of the bird-watchers on the Burwell Lode footbridge. I think that bird-watching has some elements in common with fishing. You spend time waiting and then for short bursts you get to see the object of your attentions.

I mentioned that the stretch of Lodes Way between Newnham Drove and Burwell Lode had earth Ha-Has to keep the cattle out. Except they didn’t because the earth/mud tended to break down. The last time I cycled along they had put fence poles in the ditches on either side of this path. Well now those fence poles have gotten fences as well.

There was also a notice on one of the gates about an incident in which a dog walker’s dog had been killed by another persons two dogs. If you can’t control you dogs you shouldn't have them is my view. Dog’s become part of the family and so to lose one in this way can be incredibly distressing. Unfortunately this seems as if it is not an uncommon occurrence, in this link the dog owner also got mauled as she went to defend her pet.

At this time of year it is not unusual to see some lode bank maintenance taking place – this is one of the banks of Burwell Lode

Ah – something has been spotted – the chatting has stopped and everyone is focused on something.

No they weren’t looking at this plane in the sky, even with my long lens (by my standards) you can barely make out much detail. (Not as long as that lens on the bridge though.

In case you are wondering there are some excellent pictures on the Cambridge Birds club website – here are some pictures including a Barn Owl and some Short-eared Owls. The Short-eared Owls were taken on the 20th November on Burwell Fen. So on the same day that I cycled through – the wonders of the Internet eh.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

CGB Cycle way now open and it’s tarmac all the way

When I cycled along the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) last Saturday it looked as if all the surfacing works had pretty much been completed. Well the route has now been opened officially. As the Cambridge News reports “Good news for cyclists as Guided Bus maintenance track completed” with a picture of Councillor Ian Bates and Regional Director of Sustrans – Nigel Brigham with their bikes and a ribbon on a bit of the tarmac!

How the CGB cycle way looked in April 2010

As you might imagine there are a lot of comments. Indeed there are many childish comments. All I would say is that the CGB and the cycle way are both getting used – and IMHO by more people than I would have expected. Also for all those people who are so fixated on their right to drive and own the roads because they pay road tax (sic) – get over it and remember the more people that use the bus or cycleway then the fewer there will be on your precious A14. Although as pointed out by the Cottenham Cyclist in “Fuel prices on the up. Gasp!” which points out that maybe we need to think about not commuting long distances or taking our kids into the next county to school and also to encourage local shops – adapt to the changes that are inexorable.

How the CGB  looked in April 2009

Whilst on about cars these are mean streets in Cambridgeshire – “Gun fired as car forced off Cambridgeshire Road” and yet another “speed camera has been set on fire”, this one was closer to home – Ditton Lane, Fen Ditton.  Mind you there also seems to be an anti-car brigade setting fire to cars – “Cars burnt in dealership blaze”.

How the CGB looked in May 2010

As a reminder one of the reasons things like the cycle way make sense is to help combat the obesity epidemic.  The current edition of the Cambridge News Cycling blog is Blog 22: Beating Obesity.

I do think though that the cycleway is a great facility and nicely compliments the Lodes Way (which will feature in my next post).

How it looks now:

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Yet another trip to St Ives and back–the tarmac is pretty much complete and features in this Post)

Saturday, 19th November:  This is part 2 – of my ride to St Ives and back. There are some issues with posting from the Windows Live writer client at the moment so I hope that this is working.

To cut a long story short the cycleway alongside the CGB (Cambridge Guided Busway) is pretty much complete all the way from Milton Road to St Ives Park and Ride. It is track that is just under 20Km / 12miles in length and uninterrupted interrupted by only six sets of traffic lights along its length. There are still some track works taking place on the section between Swavesey and St Ives, up near St Ives where a Dutch Culvert has been built.

So it is not yet open – but people do seem to use it at the weekend.

Here is the Bike Route Toaster Link to the map below, 52Km/32.5 miles in length. I’ve split the Post into two and the next one will cover the route back along the CGB so you’ll have to wait until I write it to see some pictures of the tarmac.

As it gets dark much earlier in the evenings I headed out a little earlier, from the link you can see that sunset is at 16:03 on the 19th November. I like cycling in the dark – as long as there aren’t too many homicidal drivers around and it isn’t wet, but I did hope to get some pictures of the current state of affairs on the missing link.

To cut a long story short there is now tarmac along the entire length of the cycle way alongside the Cambridge Guided Busway (CGB). This is some of that new tarmac – with extra grit rolled into it. I happened on this website (Swavesey Bridleways) for horse riders and they would seem to have been treated with courtesy by the buses – it makes a change to see so many positive comments.

They also mention a new bridleway around Westwick – here is a link to a map, I must look out for it the next time I cycle through.

I found the previous links through the Swavesey village website, which also has some interesting insights into the Fen Drayton crossing and the limited visibility that car drivers have because of the location of the fence posts. Because of the size of the pillars each side of a car’s windscreen there can be significant blind spots for motorists – one of the reasons for SMIDSYs I guess. (The pillars used to be thinner to assist the driver’s view of the road, particular when at a T-junction, these pillars have gotten bigger to make the cars safer for the occupants, but not for cyclists and motor-cyclists.

So be careful when tanking up the cycleway on your bike – although you don’t see many cars I have seen vehicles crossing at that spot a few times.

Whilst talking about Swavesey, their current front page on their website mentions the thefts of bikes from the Swavesey CGB stop (28th October). It was locked so I would imagine there will be some concern along the length of the CGB about how secure bicycles are. I wonder if the security cameras will be of any help. I would imagine they will be focused on either potential crossing problems or the ticket machines. I must have a look the next time I am along there.

The only unfinished bit of the works on the cycleway seems to be around the Dutch culvert, as far as I can tell. It is not yet open though, so don’t rely on it being open until they say so officially.

The culvert raises the height of the cycleway to allow for the pipes underneath and just in case cyclists take this ramp to fast and shoot of into the sky they have painted some “SLOW” signs on the tarmac. The surface over the culvert is ridged concrete and it looks as if there will be some railings as there are studs sticking up on the left hand edge. At the moment there are wooden boards in the surface – speed bumps?

One of the great things about the cycleway is that despite the buses it feels as if you are getting out into the countryside. The buses are nowhere near as noisy as I feared either, in fact I have to remind myself to be aware of them, particularly when the cycleway changes sides at various road crossings.

But you do pass through some rather nice countryside, including the Fen Drayton Reserve. Even though I set out fairly early, my less than stellar pace meant the sun was setting over the Lakes on my way back. I guess that the spire you can just about see is Fen Drayton – St Mary’s.

The same picture, but not cropped and not processed.

I was surprised just how many cyclists I saw out, which is why I counted them, however we are put to shame by the number of bikes counted on a daily basis in David Hembrow’s  post on Counting bikes in Groningen. (He mentions a count of over 19,000 cyclists on their busiest street!)

A picture looking the other way and using the fence as a “tripod”. You can see how low the sun is by the shadows cast, however it is still plenty bright enough for cycling.

It is good to see that the even on a Saturday the cycle “sheds” are getting good use. The stands seem to be somewhat further apart than down in Cambridge Railway Station. Apparently despite the recent scare the plans are still going ahead for better cycle parking! I’ll believe it when I see it. I reckon that all the cyclists who have cars should get up really early one day and use the car park. Apparently there are 435 car parking spaces, although I am not sure how they are shared between reserved spaces and turn up and park spaces.

You’d then get a load of disgruntled motorists unable to park who would also start seeing the benefit of better facilities for cyclists. The facts are that cyclists take up less space on roads and in car parks than cars, so cyclists actually are doing the motorists a favour.

Another of those little walls being built along the edge of the cycleway?

A bus happened to come along as I was taking the last picture so here is a gratuitous bus picture.  It seemed to me that there were more buses running than I would normally see on a Sunday – but I’ve not actually looked at the timetables. A recent Post by “Travelling the Cambridgeshire guided Busway” mentioned the A14 improvements. With a comment from Jonathan Djanogly – MP. He was quoted in a Hunts Post article as saying the CGB was “hardly going to make a pin-prick” in reducing traffic volume on the A14” and he also said “an expert once told me that if every private car using the A14 between Huntingdon and Cambridge were to go on public transport, traffic would reduce by only some five per cent.”

I presume that this means that there is a lot of through private traffic that just happens to be passing by and of course a lot of freight traffic. Certainly the CGB could take more traffic, but of course there have to be ways of getting people to the bus stops.

The article also details some of the accident statistics – in 2010 the A14 accounted for 7.5% of all fatal and serious accidents in Cambridgeshire. Just last night  a cyclist was found by the side of the A14 near Bar Hill with serious injuries. I used to live in Willingham and have cycled along the A14 a few times, but it is not a road I would cycle along nowadays.

A few more pictures of the sun setting across the fields. It is a bit early for people commuting at this time of year – but a fair number of people using the CGB bus for shopping in Cambridge got a good view.

The same picture but without the HDR processing. Neither picture is quite what the eye sees.

It always seems to happen there are no buses at all and then three come along at once. Although one is heading into the city – which makes you fat and depressed… The other thing that caught me eye is how close together the two buses were, somewhat clsoer than 500m.

I hadn’t actually stopped to take the bus pictures, so here is another picture of the sun setting behind some trees, off in the distance.

As you can see the buses separated after a short while. They had both crossed a road just out of sight down the track and I would imagine that was why they got bunched up. They might also have been wondering why I was taking their pictures as well.

One of the “artworks” on the waiting area at Oakington I think. It says “Water loves its own way” and is I believe by Catrin Jones.

Another of those little walls – I must found out what they are there for

A horse rider heading off along a bridleway that runs parallel to the CGB from Histon to Westwick, I wonder if they will use the new bridleway around the back of Westwick and then head back down Gun’s Lane

Despite it being near the end of November there was some Lacy Phacelia growing alongside the concrete tracks.  It is often grown by farmers as a cover crop to encourage bees. (If you want to know more about cover crops click the link.) Here is a link to a previous post where I passed some Lacy Phacelia cycling up to Ely, fourth picture down. (I was doing the cycling not the Lacy Phacelia though!)

And finally another of those pictures of celebrities on cycles – this time Christine Bleakley. (Let’s hope this gets published – well it still reports an error, but has appeared!)