Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Oh No! - Not cycle parking at the Cambridge Railway Station again

Friday, 24th February 2012: I will start this post with, to me some surprising news, a while back David Hembrow of the Blog A View from the Cycle Path announced that he was going to cease writing the blog, but had a few more articles up his sleeve. Well he has been as good as his word – he wrote a few more articles and it would appear that he has now ceased. He would also appear to have either deleted his blog or at least made it inaccessible so my apologise if any links in this Blog  referencing his writings now no longer work.

I suppose that the old adage “you get what you pay for” appears to be true in this case. he cites several factors in his decision, including the point that he spends significant time for little return, even when his work is used by professionals.  It is a shame and although I have never met him his Blog will be missed and more importantly his insight. Vole O’Speed perhaps puts it more eloquently in his post "A view from the cycle path”.

Perhaps when a passion becomes a job then it is the time to think again.

For me my Blog is a catalyst for both my cycling and my photography – it helps me do more of both. I deliberately haven’t run adverts and whilst I will link to other articles I hardly ever use other sources of pictures. (I can think of a handful of cases where I have used a Wikipedia picture or taken a picture of say the front page of a news paper.)

So why do I cycle, well it is good contemplative time, not necessarily usually on important issues. Why do I take pictures – because I like to, they help me pay attention to the world around me.

Speaking of which I had meetings in London on Friday, once again to a place I had never been to before. Otherwise I might have decided to take my Brompton and cycle through London.  I have used the Transport for London site to get cycling-friendly directions, but it becomes a faff to far for me. I have to get the directions, then either print them or program them into my GPS. I also have to heave my bike through the Cambridge Railway Station …  As you can see none of this is impossible it is just a step too far. Yet I am quite happy to cycle around more than most.

So it was with some trepidation when I thought about getting to the Station on Friday morning. My default plan is to cycle, but I have such problems finding a space that I now find it necessary to leave home earlier to avoid missing my train. In this case I was going to catch the 8.15 and was due home before 6pm so with fingers crossed I checked the website of Station Cycles – good news it was open from 8am to 6pm. So that was one less thing to worry about. I could plan on cycling there leaving my bike without having to worry about finding a space.

I did plan on getting there for 8am just in case there was a queue for their parking services. That then left 10minutes to catch the train.

I cycled to the station via Coldham’s Common – a pleasant cycle route from Newmarket Road to Coldham’s Lane, past the Cambridge United Football Ground. In the scheme of things it is a nice route, although why not make a proper cycle route – two lanes and pedestrian lanes. Silly me I forgot the goal is not create reasonable quality cycle facilities to attract non cyclists – just get those silly enough to cycle out of the way of the important motor traffic.

I saw an article on a £320,000 cycle path which passed through a muddy 1.8m tunnel which reminded me of this where the Coldham’s Common route passes under the Cambridge to Ipswich railway line. I suppose I prefer some path to no path, but frankly I do wonder quite how so much money can be spent on providing so little (in the case of the 1Km path alongside the River Yarty in Devon.)

Actually there are several routes that converge – this is the branch from the Abbey swimming pool direction.

I arrived at the Cambridge Railway station at a around 7.50am, oh look loads of car spaces, why is it that whenever I drive that doesn’t happen?  Not to worry I was going to be leaving my bike at Station Cycles

Although when I got there they weren’t open –just before panic set in I realised that was because I was early so I took some pictures. My goal was to take a picture of a bicycle passing through the Carter bridge framed by one of the triangles. I sort of managed it here – although to be honest that wasn’t the triangle I was aiming for.

This is the closest I got to the picture I wanted. I must have taken around 15 pictures, still it passed the time whilst waiting for the shop to open. Once I got to the shop it was quick, I just went in, handed over £1.50 got a ticket and left various bits of cycle gear I didn’t need with me in London on the bike. Regular readers will know that I believe cycling is (and most certainly should be) safe and helmets should not be necessary for day to day cycling. If I did wear one that would have stayed with the bike as well. (I do wear a cycling helmet when off-roading and cycling in dangerous countries.)

The great thing about the train is it is getting better at taking the stain, at least when travelling from Cambridge to London. It was an uneventful and on-time journey including the tube ride down to Waterloo. despite what we might think about how wonderful the provision for cycling in Cambridge is, we can still learn from other places. At Waterloo station they have orderly double-decker cycle parking. No mud to wade through, no bikes strewn all over the place – why – well there is decent provision that’s why.

The trouble is that it seems in Cambridge the cyclists are blamed for turning up on their bikes.

As I walked through the station I couldn’t resist taking a picture of this chap with his bike.

As I walked to my destination I couldn’t resist taking a few pictures of cycle related stuff – like this  row  of Boris bike stalls near the IMax cinema near Waterloo station. So is this a popular site with few bikes remaining or unpopular as a destination? The seat configuration is interesting.

As I walked down Stamford Street it became clearer that the existence of a local University provides some impetus for the provision of cycling faculties. As you can see – in this case King’s College London. A well used cycle parking facility on the pavement – but with some spare capacity, as it should be.

A bit further long was another row of Boris Bikes, with some officials, presumably performing the distribution and maintenance work to keep it all going. The IMAX cinema is in the background.

That’s what I like to see, more cycle parking near presumably a place people want to cycle to. It might sound obvious, but one way to get people using their bicycles more is to provide cycle parking at the destination. That then becomes an incentive to cycle rather than drive.

As you can see, London is a dense urban area without mountains. So in order to get some  practice in the mountaineers scale the buildings.

A bit further along was an oasis at the heart of the neighbourhood – Bernie Spain gardens. They also have a Sustrans rest area here with a drinking fountain.

On my way back at the end of the day this was the state of play on the Boris Bikes on Stamford Street.

And with the change in the light direction the IMAX glass frontage or maybe backage?) provided an interesting reflection of surrounding buildings.

Waterloo Station, where I became one of the 88million passengers to use it every year. (Nearly a quarter of a million every day). Although actually I didn’t become one of those 88m, the passenger data quoted on Wikipedia does not include the Underground of Waterloo East.

Once more into the bowels of the Earth. Normally at this point I start wishing I’d bought my Brompton, not because I suffer from claustrophobia, it is just more interesting to travel over ground than underground.

A quick play with the TfL journey planner remembering to turn off all the journey options except cycling suggests a route with a journey time of only 15 minutes! I hadn’t realised quite how close it was. I think I could have navigated the route without my GPS programmed. Strangely what it doesn’t show is how far it is?  You can see a little animated bike move along the route though. Using Google to check what the walking distance is it shows it as just over 2 miles / 3.5Km. I really didn’t have an excuse for not cycling did I?

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