Sunday, 29 April 2018

#CamRideHome Visits Arbury

After a really rather damp day, the ida of going out for a social ride seemed a bit too much. However, the experience was very different. There's something about doing things in a group that makes fun and worthwhile, despite the potentially inclement weather. In fact the adversity may actually bring about more pleasure as you seek to beat it as a group.

The start point, as always, is from from The Mill by the river in the centre of town.

The Mill in Sunnier Times (from their twitter stream)

Here's the route.

Open Map Larger.

Whilst we did meander around a lot of cycle infra around north east Cambridge, the primary aim was to look at the new cyclepaths on Arbury Road.

Plan for the new cyclepaths

And there are a few more photos of this bit of our ride here.

It was good to note the works at the end of the cyclepath, it's the extension going ahead soon.

And here's the video of the route. Look out, music! And inspired by the water all around us, a little ditty by New Model Army.            (Go HD see * below)

0:11 Starting from The Mill
0:30 Passing Kings College
0:44 By the river on Jesus Green
1:22 Green Dragon Bridge
1:33 Fen Road Cyclepath
1:41 Snack break on the Guided Busway
1:59 Getting to the Arbury Road Cyclepath
2:30 Returning to The Mill for a pint and a natter

A slightly sad part was coming back down Mere and Carlton Way, although it didn't spoil the evening mood generally. Several close passes as people driving risked (us) getting round us on a narrow road with oncoming traffic.

One particular fine example of driving was someone passing us close at high speed and parking up in a bus stop. Reviewing video frames against nearby street items and measuring on satellite images showed they were doing at least 37mph (in a 20mph limit).

Large car being driven well over the speed limit

* How to go HD.

Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Sunny Ten Mile Cambridge Ride 2018

So, the delights of early spring in Cambridge when the sun comes out. This ride has lots of cycle paths, quiet streets, open spaces, very pleasant in the early spring sun. Even the speeding close cars on Gilbert Road didn't spoil the mood. Every interaction other than that was with a smile, drivers included!

The start point is from Hills Road near the railway bridge, heading down Brooklands Avnue.

Flower Beds

Keirin Anyone?

Stourbridge Common Picnic

Fen Ditton Meadows and River

New Cycle Arrow on Sedgwick Street

Here's the route.

Open Map Larger.

And here's the video of the route. Look out, soundtrack!(Go HD see * below)

0:11 Starting from Hills Road near the Railway Bridge
0:27 Crossing into the Coe Fen
0:41 Over the river
1:06 Cutting through the colleges to Burrells Walk
1:44 Up Madingley Road
2:00 Through the back of hte Astronomy
2:26 Crossing Huntingdon Road
2:51 Gilbert Road, speeding close cars, uggh
3:30 Over Fort St Goerge Bridge onto Midsummer Common
3:50 Keirin anyone?
4:05 Stourbridge Common with picnics
5:00 Onto Coldhams Common
5:36 Sedgwick Street with it's new counter flow cycle arrows
8:00 Railway Cycle Bridge

* How to go HD.

Thursday, 4 January 2018

#CamRideHome on New Years Eve Along the Quy-Lode Cyclepath

So a few decided to make the trip up to the new cycleroute that has been set up between Stow-cum-Quy and Lode. This was changed from a Friday evening to a Sunday lunchtime ride as it was New Years Eve (and few could do the Friday slot!). It had the benefit of ending at The Shed, a new pub in Lode, just about lunchtime. Hey Ho!

Setting Off (photo by Simon Nuttall)

Here's the route planned. A fairly simple jaunt along NCN51 out from Cambridge, which is mostly off-road, and when on- it's very quiet. Note that we came back along the road to the Missing Sock (another great venue), merely to see waht it was like (very quiet).

So to the route itself. It starts where the offroad NCN51 crossing of the B1102 in Stow just north of the A14 roundabout and makes it's way through Stow towards the Quy end of the village (good history here).

This first section can be a little intimidating. People driving have only just slowed down for the village and still have expectations of making fast progress. There are not many easy places to pass, especially with oncoming traffic. Why wasn't the off-road path started here? Well, probably for a number of reasons. Could it change, I hope so, although it may be more difficult to do so as a secondary change.

Just about where Stow becomes Quy, there's a turn off onto a small, quiet side road. It's still direct and makes for a nice relaxing change from the previous section. This continues into Quy Court Business Park, which also has slower speeds, although also suffers from reduced visibility and the likelihood of people driving not looking as they park.

After that is the off-road path itself. This is lovely. It starts off being separated from the road by a hedge, a great reduction in noise. Sadly, this doesn't go for the whole length, but it does do it's best and it's clear why it can't.

Cyclepath Start

At the Lode end, near Anglesey Abbey, the route crosses back over th B1102 and then proceeds to the Lode turn. In fact the off-road path continues for around 50 metres into the village. From there it's a quiet ride down to The Shed.

Arrival at The Shed

And here's the video of the route. A few glimpses to the route itself, then a quick look at the good (of which there's a lot), the bad (and there is a bit), and the ugly (thankfully none!). Look out, soundtrack!

(Go HD see * below)

0:11 Starting from Cutter Ferry bridge
0:56 Stow Road Section
1:32 Turning onto quiet road in Quy
1:50 Quy centre
2:00 Start of the off-road section
2:40 Anglesey Abbey Road Crossing
3:09 The Shed, Lode
3:14 Some return clips

So, the new path should be welcomed, it's a helpful addition to the route network. It should mean more people ride, although it's not really going to include quite a few people who really won't like that first road section. If it's to be a route, it's only going to be as good as it's weakest point.

So, looking at the road section, why wasn't it changed. Simply, it's quite difficult. However, it's not that difficult, and there is space. Sticking with the same side as the built route, and there is room most of the way. True, it means costly moving of lamp-posts and other street furniture. Opposite The Wheatsheaf, the space on that side runs out. There is still roadspace, so it's a question of moving the kerbs, again costly for cyclepaths.

Space on Right

Could it be done later? Yes, I hope so. After all, we are just finishing up the same kind of project, with similar issues in Harston. And I'd suggest the idea of a quick win was the reason why this wasn't done to start with.

Once at the turning onto the quiet road, there's plenty more space on both sides. And this continues along the main road apart from a small section just after the crossroads. Again, some clever considerations here would enable this to be a fully linked path. Of course, the quiet road could still be used, which wouldn't be absolutely ideal, but would allow for some of the less confident riders.

Space Either Side

There are a couple of potential issues with the path itself.

First, in two places trees come close to the route. Has enough been done to ensure there's no root damage from the trees. We've recently suffered from this on the Guided Busway (yes, that short time and we have it) and can see many examples around town where this is the case. You don't see it as often in roads, why would that be? A better substructure?

Trees very near path, has sufficient been done to stop root damage?

And second, There is at least one tractor crossing. Again, with several tons moving across the path, not too regularly, just enough, has the path surface and substructure been designed to deal with this? I'm not sure. I have seen what other places do to protect fomr this kind of damage, and it doesn't look like we've done anything like enough.

Tractor Crossing, is their adequate surface and substructure here?

So, onto the last section, the crossing and the route up to Lode.

After the nice section away from the road, the crossing comes at you quite quickly. It's quite difficult to see through the trees and work out when it's okay to cross. People riding do like a good chance to look around, see whether they can plan a route across and do it quickly without stopping. This isn't possible here. There is an island, but we were all too nervous to use it. It looks very small and there's a worry about being clipped whilst waiting. And if we want this facility to be used by lots of people, we need to make it so lots of people can use it at the same time, not one or two.

Road Crossing near Anglesey Abbey

Finally, the path up to the Lode turn. This is well known for being the Anglesey Abbey overflow car park. Cars will litter this place at busy times. I hope some contingency has been made to deal with this issue.

Here is an example. Now, the car isn't parked all the way across the path, but it does take the whole space up. When passing a parked car, riders are taught to be at least an open doors width away, in case someone in the car opens the door. The Dutch Reach, as good as it is, will only reduce the numbers of poeple who do open doors without looking. It's still better to avoid the area when riding.

Parked Car on Cyclepath

Finally, we did see the sun, if only for a bit and a bit muted!

The Hint of Sun on Return

All in all, a lovely ride out, and I like the new path, with some reservations. Convivial chatter along the way and great food at The Shed made it all a pretty good New Years Eve.

* How to go HD.

Thursday, 7 September 2017


So the new Eddington development is opening in West Cambridge. We had a chance to look around a couple of weeks back. It was still a bit closed off but there was a cycle route through.

It is great that there will be new cycle routes, completely separated from roads into town (through the Cambridge farm site?) and to the north west. And it's great to have a place where everything is so close. People are encouraged to make small trips and it looks distinctly difficult to do by car.

Whilst good work has been done to secure off-road space for people riding, it is quite compromised in places, and quite confusing in others. And that makes all the difference. Routes are only as good as their weakest point.

Here's the map of the site [PDF], which does look good, bar one striking point (below). The map descriptions look like they've done the right things. 

Eddington Map

However, when actually riding it on the ground, several issues appear that are completely different to the map.

1. "Shared Pedestrian/Cycle Network". This is really not clear at all. Surface separated (by a thin kerb) and marked as separated. Some signs say different, some a few metres away confirm the surface layout. People will see it as the surface is laid out, segregated, it's a much stronger indicator.
2. The resulting segregated areas are narrow. Even if the whole space were shared, it's still narrow, but not by much. Even if the space is legally defined as shared, it's still not going to be the way people see it, creating conflict between walking and riding.
3. It doesn't come out to the road fully at Huntingdon Road, there are clear signs prohibiting riding, differing from the map's diagram.
4. It doesn't have priority of side roads (like Five Acres), differing from the map's diagram.
5. The long straight roads encourage speeding, even if narrow in places. This is something that seems completely at odds with other new developments.
6. This is a through route for people in cars. If I were commuting from North of Cambridge, I've suddenly got a route that takes me to the Madingley Road Park and Ride. The queuing traffic for this place from the south is pretty bad. Isn't this going to create another queue form the north?

Huntingdon Road: surface arrows suggests people should cycle onto the pavement here

Huntingdon Road: signs (other side!) says you can't cycle on the pavement here

No side road priority next to Eddington Avenue

Segregated sign on Turing Way, not shared use space

Two different signs close to each other saying different things

So, why haven't we learnt from previous developments on these issues. It's not like we don't have great examples not very far away.

Just half a mile south of here, on the West Cambridge cyclepath (to Coton), there's a great peice of Pedestrian/Cycle infrastructure. A large kerb, clearly defined space for people walking and riding. And, the really silly things is that it's only a little bit wider than the space given in Eddington.

I work around quite a lot, and see lots of different infrastructure in new developments. Every other new development I've been to recently (Cambourne, Hargate, Red Lodge, and more) have roads that change direction at least every 100 metres. Every time I drive there 20mph seems fast. So that's the speed I don't even want to exceed. We know that long straight roads means motor vehicle speed increases, making it awkward for everyone else to negotiate crossing or joining them.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

#CamRideHome on 30.06.2017 The Rush Water Course and Trumpington Road Cyclepath Video

As planned, the June ride this year was to The Blue Ball in Granchester looking at a couple of sites along the way. And yes, I've spelt it deliberately like that.

And here's the video of the route!

##CamRideHome Does Cambridge North on 30.06.2017 (Go HD see * below)

0:12 Start up Laundress Lane
0:33 Through a poorly placed No Entry sign to get to two-way cyclepath
0:52 Onto Sheeps Green
1:03 Progress temporarily halted by boggy bit
1:16 The newly rejuvenated "The Rush" stream
2:27 Simon goes for a paddle which interests the locals
2:57 Back onto Fen Causeway shared-use path
3:15 Onto Trumpington Road shared-use path, lane opposite not yet finished
3:25 Floating bus stop still being built
3:45 Onto cyclelane from new crossing place
4:00 Up ramp to shared-use path, is it all the way?
4:22 A little known shared-use path to St Faith's School
4:52 Over and up Lathams Lane
5:25 Back onto the Coe Fen
5:52 Brief rain coat stop
6:19 Simon's bike decides to stop
7:25 Turning over the field to The Blue Ball

So we spotted a No Entry sign that's to stop people cycling and driving the wrong way down Malting Lane. However, it also covers the entrance to the two-way shared-use path along Church Rate Walk.

The first main site was on Sheeps Green. In March they renewed The Rush water course by adding in rocks and building the banks with logs and hazel. It looks like it really does rejuvenate the stream, and I spotted an Egret at the bottom pool. I do find it a little incongruous to have rocks in a stream in a flat, fen area, but it does make the stream work.

UPDATE: More video here.

The second site is the new cyclepath along the east side of Trumpington Road. This change gets rid of the awful doorzone cyclelane and connects to the Brooklands Avenue cyclepath enabling loads of local school kids to avoid the busy main road entirely. Here's Mike Davies talking about the scheme.

We do note that the west side of the road still needs completing as they intend to widen the offroad route. Also, the floating bus stop area isn't yet complete, that should improve it even more. Let's see how the end of Bateman Street works, with loads of school traffic coming out in busy times. It's good to see that they have already removed the railings on the west side shared-use path, there's now a lot more space.

At the end of these sights of sites we'll take a leisurely ride across Granchester Meadows to the delightful little independent Blue Ball pub with it's excellent atmosphere and great beers. Simon's bike decided to give us a little fun as we almost get onto Grantchester Meadows. And we were shamed that none of us were carrying spanners!

* How to go HD.