Thursday 2 January 2014

The Great Cycle Route That Isn't - Part 2

As I explained in my last post, and the one before, all we really want as cyclists is for the routes we might realistically want to use to be safe. That means that the direct routes connecting the places we need to go have to be changed to make them rideable. As luck would have it we've got exactly such a direct route connecting the Science Park to Cambridge City Centre - a route that ought to be superb but rather fails.

The big question is what we'd need to do to change that route to turn it in to what we need it to be - Cambridges first real cycle-superhighway?

Like in my last post, lets start at the Science Park end.

I think its fairly obvious that the exit from the Science Park to Kings Hedges Road (top) is woefully bad - we need a better surface, a dropped kerb on to the road and a proper crossing, and we must be rid of that wooden barrier. As it is, this route doesn't even acknowledge the presence of cyclists who are directed to use it from the end of the cycle lane in the science park, and there is huge scope for improvement. We could also do with changing the very obstructive chicane (below) that makes access so hard that many cyclists have to dismount. In short, right at the beginning of this cycle route to the City this actually has to BE a cycle route!

Then of course you've the cul-de-sac on the other side of the road (below, from Google Earth) the end of which is frequently blocked, and at which we need to go through a narrow opening - it doesn't take a great deal of imagination to see that things could be a great deal better there - we need yellow lines to stop parking at the end of the street, and a much wider gateway entry for cyclists. Since the opening of the news branch of Screwfix opposite Daily Bread at the end of this route, parked vehicles there are already becoming more of a issue than they were - on Saturdays its rare that the gate isn't blocked by shoppers, on Sunday its always blocked by someone coaching football on the field beyond, and on Fridays the entire road is frequently made nearly impassable by visitors to the Mosque. Enough is enough - this route needs to be kept clear for cyclist access.

The pathway across the field on the other side of this barrier must also be much wider to allow cyclists and pedestrians to safely pass each other, and the kind of solar powered studs we now have on the Guided Busway cycle route wouldn't go amiss. 

At the other side of the field you encounter a narrow constriction, which presents a problem for both cyclists and parents taking their children to and from the school, especially when they've got younger ones with buggies. On one side of the constriction, if the school were to lose about the width of the hedge from their grounds (this won't impact on playing field area at all) then there would be ample space to fix this part of the route - and access for parents and children will be much safer.

After this the next part of the journey that may need addressing is the Northfield Avenue roundabout. Its not that its bad, but I can't see any reason not to cut a hole out of the grass verge opposite and give cyclists a route over to Crasiter Court - there is already a cut-through from there on to Roxburgh Road, which would be great if we actually had priority on that exit (which is also a must). Roxburgh Road, however, remains a problem - its narrow, cars are always parked on both sides, usually on the pavement too. To keep this route clear, we need parking restricted to one side only - as its bad practice to park directly opposite another on a narrow road, and as this practice is entirely facilitated by antisocially blocking the pavement, this is something very much needed to facilitate better pedestrian access on Roxburgh Road anyway.

From Roxburgh Road to Arbury Road we've got a handy cut-through, but it badly needs re-surfacing, being made up of around 3 different surfaces already (below - from Google).

So far the changes I've suggested are really fairly trivial - and the only people who will be inconvenienced will be the few motorists who intentionally disregard law and the safety of others by parking on, effectively blocking the pavements on Roxburgh Road. And this would give us good quality cycling, along very quiet routes, getting us the first third of the way towards Cambridge. Now, after this point we're going to need some new (rather than trivially improved) infrastructure - and I'll come to that in my next post.


  1. It's a great idea to blog this woeful route. I always get lost when trying to follow it into the park at the end of Kirkwood Road - I never know whether to continue straight or turn left.

    And coming North I always get lost trying to find the right path along Cameron Rd - there are no signs with destination markings and if you go straight along Craister Ct you miss the Northfield/Cameron roundabout and the start of the path.

    It's a muddle of infrastructure but could be made pretty useful with a few tweaks and decent signage. A full coloured resurface would make it amazing.

    1. Good idea - continuity of colour on the roads for cycling routes in Cambridge might be really useful. One could imagine different routes being in different colours.

      I think its probably the most useful route in Cambridge that, well, isn't. Its the kind of thing we need to start doing right if we're ever to stop being smug about being the most cycled city in the UK and have real ambition to be a world leader for cycling.