Friday 16 November 2018

Greater Cambridge Hates Everyone

I've complained about the Greater Cambridge Partnership before. But I find myself looking in at some of their gibbering stupidity and needing a better way of explaining their actions than just plain ineptitude.

Yes, I agree, never ascribe to malice that which can be better ascribed to incompetence. But we're way past that - they're not merely incompetent, they're willing and able to weaponise that incompetence with the sheer bloody mindedness of civil servants in a way that isn't just officious, its petty minded, mean and callous. Seriously man, they're fucking Vogons.

Oh, you think I'm over stating things? They planted a hedge that produces toxic spindle berries in front of a primary school and were too bloody minded to send the wrong fencing material back and order the right stuff, making the fence impassable to hedgehogs for no reason at all. There has been much historic discussion in the UK as to whether this institution or that is 'institutionally racist' (an issue that is very much still alive), but I put it to you that after reading this blog post you'll be left with the view that the City Deal (a term that became so toxic they re-branded themselves to Greater Cambridge Partnership) is something new - it seems to be institutionally sociopathic. 

How else can you explain the fact that they believe this is a good idea. Yes, now you ask, they did say that would be a safe cycle lane, and then they fucked us over when they built it and made it actively dangerous to ride. A cycle lane with parked cars on a bend. I know, its delusional, isn't it?

As for their plans for Milton Road, they've manipulated an extended 'consultation' process for years now, spending hundreds of thousands of pounds fannying on without doing a damn thing on the ground, producing artwork that flat out cannot be replicated in real life (show me a canopy forming, lollipop like tree growing happily in around a foot and a half width of grass verge, next to a busy main road, perfectly symmetrical and not lopped off on one side). Taking residents for suckers with deceptive depictions while hoping we don't notice that they're effectively doing fuck all to fix a dangerous, life threatening roundabout other than hoping cyclists will ride on the pavement.

But its not just Arbury Road, Green End Road, and Milton Road that the seem intent on squandering scant resources on to fuck up beyond all recognition for at least a generation, they are also in the process of making sure that no one would choose to ride on Histon Road either. Literally no one who has to use them likes shared use facilities, as all of the feedback they received told them. Such a facility frightens pedestrians, is often completely ignored by cyclists at the expense of being bullied by motons who see the shred use path as a tool to keep us the hell out of their way. We've even got a name for that here in Cambridge, its so common, we call it the Milton Road Effect. So rather than give us safe, fast, easy, direct, conflict free cycle routes where there is ample space they've chosen to funnel us into a narrow space full of pedestrians, presumably to make sure that no bugger dares intrude into their car-centric dystopia. This isn't good for cyclists, its not good for motorists, its not good for pedestrians. But, heck, at least they can take comfort in the fact they failed cyclists and pedestrians more than they failed the drivers.

Lets be honest, we must by now all suspect that there are four problems the Greater Cambridge Partnership. Firstly, its basically looks like a tool that the County Council is using to funnel money into programs that are otherwise going to stall because it is so hard up it is selling the family silver and like the Grinch trying to cancel Christmas, and that they're using the same employees who have been employing the same failing methodologies that haven't given us quality cycle facilities for decades. Secondly, don't you think that those in charge of the project are more interested in spending money fast to get their next fat stack of cash than they are in creating quality cycling facilities? Which is why they're inordinately interested in 'shovel ready' or 'easy win' projects for cycling, and why they spend hundreds of thousands of pounds on endless consultations and still keep coming back with exactly the same dangerous mistakes like horrific roundabouts and hostile shared use. Thirdly, lets be honest, they're motorists - no one else would spend money on cycle lanes that people are allowed to park in. And, lastly, they're one of a plethora of quasi-democratic bodies with competing interests. The new Mayoral authority wants very different  things to the County (Tory), City (Labour) and South Cambs (LibDem) authorities, and the body overseeing Greater Cambridge is a schizophrenic chimera of councillors from all three with interests represented by the University and Business hurling their own self-interest paint bombs in. 

Cambridge City Deal wasn't ever meant to create facilities for people in Cambridge, its there to unlock infrastructure to turn Cambridge from a small to a medium sized City. But they can't say that outloud because no one wants to hear it. And at stake here is what the very soul of that city will be about - sustainable, healthy transport for people who care about where they're passing through? Or a nasty, congested, increasingly polluted town full of people who must of necessity be selfish to even get to the local shops? City Deal have the latter vision. I don't. Where do you stand?

Monday 2 July 2018

Gilligan and Cambridge Transport - What does it mean?

I've a lot of time for Andrew Gilligan. I don't agree with him on everything but he usually speaks a lot of sense on transport, so it is always worth listening to him. And today he's lit the fuse on a stick of dynamite and hurled it into the Cambridge transport debate. What fun.

Now to explain this we have to go into a little background. The delivery of transport infrastructure in Cambridge isn't so much fractured as fucked up beyond all sense. Much of the City itself is run by the City Council - so, for example, many of the the cycle routes through Kings Hedges are on routes that are not 'adopted', so not maintained by the highways authority. They're maintained and operated by the City. But the highways authority is the County Council, they're the ones who make decisions about the roads (cycle lanes etc.) 

But then there is Greater Cambridge, formerly known as Cambridge City Deal but re-branded after that title became associated with the toxic legacy of some of their earlier projects. They've got the devolved authority to spend money from Central government. But City Deal is overseen by chosen representatives from industry, the University, and councillors from South Cambs (libdems), Cambridgeshire (conservatives) and Cambridge (Labour). It is slow, it is inefficient, it creates projects that are great if you're a committee but bad if you're actually any kind of user. 

And then there's the Mayors office. By offering a big pile of social housing money (which won't happen) outlandishly gullible Labour City councillors were duped into accepting an overall directly elected Mayoral authority with a wider diaspora than just the City. So wide in fact that it seems almost infeasible that it won't be forever dominated by the blue-rinsed swivel eyed loony Tories if the fens. And the Mayor, a chap by the name James Palmer, is an unashamed representative of those loonies - the City didn't vote for him, they did.

So here's where we are - its an open secret that the Mayor doesn't like where City Deal are going. He's been so much opposed to it that the whole scheme is now on the verge of collapse, and it wouldn't be too tin-foil-hat to suggest he might just be ok with that. Like we're looking at the thick end of half a billion pounds being withdrawn here.

The Mayor wants an underground or Metro or some such and he's (quite erroneously) convinced that building wider roads fixes things. He doesn't trust the officers employed by the County but working with City Deal to deliver projects. And if you don't think the way he managed to avoid scrutiny of his positions looks suspicious I've got to ask you what its like having been born just yesterday. City Deal wanted to extend the Guided Bus and are adamant that their cycle provision schemes are great (brief version: they vary from terriyfing and crap through to better than mediocre, but mostly are a mishmash that aren't linked together in any meaningful sense so don't encourage anyone to ride) and they've got a range of other schemes that they have subsequently had to put on hold while they sort their differences with the Mayor out. The District council don't like extending the Guided Bus route any more because they're no longer Tories and have suddenly become Liberal Democrats. And the City are, well, who even has the energy to keep following...

And with all this going on, in comes Gilligan. And with almost laser like precision sights the nail and smacks it firmly on the head. Invest in cycling, stupid.

Look, we might get an underground one day but I'm old enough to remember the Tyneside Metro opening - and that kind of build is long, slow, disruptive and astonishingly expensive. Going under the city is difficult and it isn't going to solve anything soon. Building wider roads isn't going to get people to anywhere other than the next bottleneck slightly sooner, it won't make journeys better or shorter. But there's a simple, quick, cost effective, clean, healthy answer that only fails in one way - it doesn't provide the phallic support that big-ticket infrastructure does. 

Gilligan is right - if you want to free up road space and facilitate faster, better transport for everyone then the low-hanging fruit is cycle provision. And not two-thirds of Arbury Road here and a wide, out of the way Eponymous trail connecting goodness knows where with somewhere else via nowhere anyone wants to be. Safe, high quality, visible, on-road direct and radial routes within and to the outside of the City. 

If what you want is an improved transport network for everyone in Cambridge then what you want is a genuine, complete cycle network here. If you think you want transport improvements but don't want that, then you're wrong. Its that simple.

Wednesday 25 April 2018

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Election Survey - Summary

Most years I find myself saying its a mixed bag, but one party or another stands out as best in their responses to the Cycling Campaigns election survey. This year? Nope. Nothing much to choose between Greens, Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

Looking more widely than the two I picked out from each party, things don't improve much. Labour are obviously the most polished local party operation - there is, as there always is, a discernible party line here. It looks almost as if they're discussing this on an internal party mailing list. They're full of platitudes but when you strip down what they're saying, it is both tentative and uninspiring. We don't need to continually test out solutions proven elsewhere - we need to install them here. And Labour are just unwilling to do so - they're not, at core, a cycling friendly party.

The Liberal Democrats also talk a good game but really have little to offer us. Again, they talk a good game but when it comes down to it what is on offer is very poor indeed. Scanning through other candidate responses in other wards there are some who are a little better, they're certainly more variable than Labour candidates, and perhaps if you question yours closely you'll find something worthwhile there.

Greens. Oh, Greens. I don't get how you're not all enthusiastically for cycling. Is your heart just not in it? Some of the candidates are great, some others? I wonder what they've been smoking. And I'm heart-broken to say that, as I am, by instinct, a Green.

And the Tories are shit. They vary between pointless, hostile and just nasty. There are a couple who seem to get it - but if cycling matters to you, don't vote for them.

Other than Cambridges two other candidates (one UKIPper, one Libertarian - the former a regular cyclist hater and the latter so wrong on nearly everything he says its all comical) that's your lot - the most disappointing group of local election candidates I've yet reviewed. I could go looking for the better ones (e.g. Jamie, down in West Chesterton, is better for the LibDems than most of the others, Phil Salway is rather less crap than the other Tories) but thats not the point of this.

If cycling is the main concern you have in our local elections then I suggest unless you've got a really good candidate you should chewing up your ballot paper and spitting it out again. Its that bad.

Maybe next year. But I doubt it.

Tuesday 24 April 2018

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Election Survey 5: My Responses

Part 5 was about to be UKIP and the new Libertarian Party. But they've got one candidate each and they're so abysmal they're not even funny.

Last time round Al at the Cycling Campaign challenged me to give my own answers. So I did. And it would seem uncharitable not to do so again. Here goes. Here are my answers to the Kings Hedges questions.
What experience do you and your family have of cycling? Do you have any different concerns about younger or older family members cycling than you do yourself?
Its just me and my partner. We both cycle, pretty much everywhere. What on depends what we're doing - might be the big ex-posties bike with a trailer for big stuff. Might be the road bike for going a distance. Might be the chunky hybrid down to the shops. Depends. I've always ridden, wherever I've lived.

Concerns for the elderly and the young, and for those who don't get around so well, are largely that its just so damned hostile. If you're quick and assertive thats easier - but thats no way to run a road system. The litmus test for whether we're getting cycling right is really whether there are children and old-fogeys riding. That we've relatively few of each tells you what we're doing wrong. Add to that the fact that many cycle facilities here are practically inaccessible for those on non-standard bikes (especially important for the disabled) and it shows we've a long way to go. 
A key aim of our organisation is enabling more people to cycle, by the provision of protected space for cycling away from traffic, not shared with pedestrians, thus reducing traffic and providing transport choice. This best-practice is outlined in our guide, Making Space For Cycling, endorsed by all national cycling organisations. Do you support these principles, and if so, where could they most effectively be applied in your ward?
I support Making Space for Cycling. We should be building high quality cycle provision pretty much everywhere, every time we modify a road. We should be doing this on Arbury Road, along the whole length, Campkin Road, Northfield Avenue, Kings Hedges Road, and Milton Road - we should be looking to have direct routes between where people live and where they work, so this should extend out of the ward down Union Lane, Campkin Road, to the Science Park, etc.
Safe use of the roads is a major issue. Our view is that traffic policing, of all groups of road users (cyclists, drivers, etc.), should become a greater police priority, and that this should be evidence-based, namely based on the relative levels of danger presented by each such group. What are your thoughts, and where would your priorities be?
Flip that around. Would I favour policing based on opinion, belief, hunch, prejudice and guesswork? No. Obviously not. No one would. Would I therefore rather base policing on evidence or risk and relative harm? Yes. The evidence is, in Cambridge and across the UK, that it ain't cyclists causing the problem. Thats just physics. Motorists kill in such huge numbers relative to cyclists its not even something to see the bright side of, there's not even a good laugh to be had here, its hideous.

And if the evidence shows that cyclists are causing specific problems in specific places? Yeah, sure, address it - give that the policing priority based on the level of harm caused. Someone claiming they were 'nearly killed' by a cyclist riding past them isn't going to be a high priority when people are -actually- killed by motorists. If you believe otherwise your sense of perspective is seriously fucked up.
We are keen to see more children being able to cycle safely to school independently. Ideas from our members to assist this include protected space for cycling, parking/pickup bans 200m of schools, cycle parking. What measures would you suggest?
Great starting points. More and better bike locking spaces at schools. Quality cycling infrastructure connecting where people live with schools. Bike maintenance groups visiting schools. Medals for kids who cycle. Ain't rocket science - make cycling appealing and safe and it'll happen, that'll make kids healthier, happier, and the environment they're in cleaner and safer. There are no down-sides to this.
Our volunteers spend a lot of time scrutinising planning applications for failures such as lack of secure cycle parking, poor access, failure to fund nearby improvements to make the roads safer, and so on. Many of these things get let through by officers and Councillors in clear contravention of the Local Plan. The lack of a full-time cycling officer makes this situation even worse. What are your main concerns about the planning system, and how would you seek to make improvements?
Sadly fixing our planning system (which is absurdly uneven, slow, expensive, and inaccessible) is beyond the powers of a councillor - but putting cycle friendliness at the core of what officers are expected to do IS within that remit. I agree that there needs to be a full time cycling officer at the City Council, although planning is only part of that job. And I think its a nonsense that this stuff is left to Camcycle to do - you guys do a good job of this despite opposition from councillors (and it IS opposition - look at how Councillor Sarris acted, his criticism of the campaign was disgusting). So, I'd be looking to give cycle accessibility and appropriateness equal weighting with car access. If it ain't good enough to ride to, you can't build it - just like we currently have for car access. 
Protected junctions where walking and cycling traffic are fully separated from motorised traffic have been proposed by Cambridge Cycling Campaign for junctions being rebuilt by the Milton and Histon Road GCP projects. Which junctions do you think would benefit from similar safety improvements within the Cambridge area?
I think you've called it pretty well with what you want on Milton Road. There's a fight to be fought still there - and I think that the trees issue hasn't yet gone away there. I'd dump the bus lane in favour of a tidal route, I'd have a single row of truly interesting trees rather than two narrow verges of crap ones. Likewise Histon Road needs full segregation, but I'm not sure about how I'd design that yet.

Other junctions needing safety improvements - well, lots of them, but there's not a one size fits all answer. For example, Mitchams Corner needs taming, as does the min-roundabout at the end of Lensfield Road (one of the worst in Britain for cyclist safety!) but they're very different and need different approaches. I'd start with listing those with the lowest cycling rates and the highest rate of cyclist injury and work from there - low rate of cycling here means people are scared off the road, high rate of injury is a self explanatory problem.
 What will you do about pavement parking in King's Hedges, for example, on the roads off Northfield Avenue?
Two problems here, road and verge parking. Verge parking is easy - we already have a bye-law where its illegal if you put a sign up. So put the signs up. 

Pavement parking is beyond the jurisdiction of City councillors - you can pester the police at area committees to treat it as a priority but we all know that means the expenditure of around 2-3 hours of police work on that priority over the course of a year, and that the exercise is police PR achieving nothing of any value. The County can police pavement parking but they're never going to - there are no votes in in for Tory county councillors  helping our residents in the LibDem/Labour City. Parking enforcement powers can only be used if the City gets control of them from the County - so thats where we should start. The alternative - street by street TRO's with consultations for each one, will take forever. My rule would be if you can't push a double buggy past, the pavement is blocked, you get a ticket.
How would you improve permeability and accessibility for walking and cycling through King’s Hedges, especially with regard to the inaccessible barriers that block access to larger cycles such as tricycles, cargo cycles and adapted cycles for disability?
Dig up the barriers. If you can't get a bike through with a trailer its not a bike route. I don't see why this is even questioned. There are still too many left. Actually Kings Hedges is really pretty permeable for cycling already, if you know your routes. Problem is they're badly signposted - but when you know your way through the estate its pretty good. I'd label those routes better both on official maps and on signposts. I'd also look to improve routes such as the back way into the Science Park (which is dreadful, that chicane is truly a thing of evil) and the through-route to the Science Park along Roxburgh Road connecting to Arbury Road via. Nicholson Way could be massively better.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Election Survey 4: Greens

While still a minority party here, the Greens do at least have a city councillor and they've had others. And they're fielding a good number of candidates so its worth putting their answers under the same scrutiny as the other parties. 

Sadly our local Green candidate hasn't responded, so I've got to go further afield. 


His own experience of cycling and fears for others of different ages? 
Cycled since a young lad. Only wasn't able to cycle when I succumbed to a nasty bout of Glandula Fever
Ok. So he's got a bike. Thats not really an answer though.

The 'Space for Cycling' question, about cycle facilities and quality thereof...
 We have a particular problem at my residence (built 1976) with complete lack of sufficient cycle parking (10 spaces for 13 flats). There must be many other residences like this.
Thats not an answer to the question.

On 'evidence based policing' and does he support it? 
 "Levels of Danger perceived" seems more relevant. So cycling courses to increase self-confidence - and these will also raise awareness of where real sources of danger are. It is interesting that "road breakdown-assistance" has provided funding for a very effective pro-car lobby. Would the same help cyclists?
I'm beginning to think he's not taking this seriously. Should we base policing on evidence of risk brought to others and should there be more road policing? No comment but lets train cyclists not to be frightened. What a load of bollocks.

He agrees with examples suggested by Camcycle as to how to help kids ride to school but hasn't got anything else to add. And he hasn't grasped the question about planning and Camcycles filling in for Council staff at all. 

On the plus side he does have a short list of places where silly barriers exist on cycle routes, but isn't clear how he'd improve them. And regarding his junction that he'd improve (Mere Way/Arbury Road/route to Roxburgh Road) he's presumably missed the fact that most of that is about to be dug-up and re-done actually much better (I'll give Greater Cambridge stick where they deserve it, but they're taming that junction and not a moment too soon). And his last response where he says he'd 'arrange to ride with groups specified' to work out what to say about a Greater Cambridge deal sounds good while being completely non-committal. You'd think the Greens would be all-over the cycling ticket but these responses have been woeful. 


Regarding own cycling experience and that of family...

I've cycled all my life as my only or mains means of transport. Cambridge originally, London for some years, Italy (Rome far more pleasant and safe to cycle than Cambridge, believe it or not), Cambridge again.
When I lived in northern Italy (Ferrara), the younger members of the family I stayed with, aged ten or so, could easily and safely cycle to their grandmother on the other side of town BY THEMSELVES. Quite impossible here. But it needn't be.
It is an indictment of Cambridge transport policy that a major concern for us in our child's choice of sixth form was the danger or otherwise of getting there by bike (e.g. Impington = intimidating roundabout to cross over motorway).
Well there's a strength of feeling expressed there thats immediately appealing, and I applaud that. 

And the Space for Cycling question?
Yes, support it. Shared space is intimidating and unpleasant for pedestrians and small children, especially if your balance isn't as good as it used tone - somebody coming up unexpectedly makes you jump. Also, alas, too many cyclists cycle too fast and too close to pedestrians.
Milton Road is the obvious place. Why not "do a Hills Road" on it - decent wide cycle lanes, narrower car lanes in middle, which automatically slow traffic.
Chesterton Road also needs decent wide cycle lanes, especially between Mitcham's Corner and the big Chesterton roundabout. (It could be a beautiful Continental-style boulevard. Trees down the middle?)
Well, ok. Thats all fair enough - although I can think of other roads that need such an approach too!

Does he support evidence based policing? 

 Agree. Would particularly like to see the police do something about the many moped riders who zoom around especially in the evening, without silencers and accelerating hard around circuits in the town. Somebody is going to get killed. From what I have read (hopefully changed?), the Police at most "talk to" those found doing this.
Lights - would like to see the many car-drivers with only one headlight working fined!
Taxi-drivers. Unfortunately there seems to be a culture of dangerous, aggressive taxi-driving (and parking) in Cambridge. This needs addressing urgently, both in education and enforcement. A role for the City Council taxi-licensing department.
Fully support the Police campaign to stop drivers overtaking too close. Was grateful to Cam Cycling Campaign for pushing for this.
 From a cycling perspective this all sounds good - from an evidence based policing its a little shady. Where is your evidence that the things you allude to deserve more 'evidence based' policing? My own instincts say the same - I don't argue thats evidence based. I do know that there is plenty of data available on relative harm caused by different kinds of road user and I do wonder why it is that none of the candidates seem interested in looking that up for themselves. Like, would 10 minutes googling it be too much to ask?

On children cycling to school he's agreed with Camcycle suggestions and added banning driving on to School premesis and talked about dry bike parking. Thats sensible. 

And on planning...
Reinstate full-time cycling officer.
Planning system opaque and biased in favour of applicants. Needs better and clearer publicity about planning applications at the site they are being made for. The existing system - a boring small A4 cryptic sheet with small print, attached obscurely near site - seems designed to avoid notice.
 Best answer to that yet.

And which junctions need improving? 

 All of them!
Roundabouts are particularly problematic and scary. Better replaced by traffic lights.
Interestingly (and counter-intuitively), it wouldn't necessarily "impede traffic flow". I am ancient enough to recall the roundabout which used to be at the junction by Parkside Swimming Pool. Because so many cyclists and pedestrians had been injured, it was replaced by traffic lights. Intriguingly, it actually got quicker and easier to use the junction - there was much LESS of a queue! (I lived near there, and used it every day before and after.)
Well at least its ambitious. I'm not sure 'all of them' is quite the right answer, but I'd certainly accept hat we should be looking at them all, based on accident and cycling rates - if the former is high and the latter low you've definitely got a problem. And his response on pavement and residents parking approaches perfection. I'm repeating it all here because it is, frankly, superb.

I loathe parking on pavements. It impedes or blocks progress for pedestrians, is ugly and dangerous (cars driving on and off pavements, often some distance, fast, along the pavement), and trashes our beautiful paving stones, where they survive. It also gives out the clear message that cars are more important.
We need a system like London, where pavement parking has been illegal for decades. (Government has just announced proposal to gather evidence on possibility of extending London system to rest of country - great.)
What is particularly objectionable and dangerous is the officially condoned and sanctioned pavement parking in Romsey, which makes using the pavements difficult to use for everyone, and impossible if you have a buggy/wheelchairs. It needs to be gradually removed, changing the parking back to one side only, as it was until quite recently.
In West Chesterton, the official pavement parking on Milton Road pavement, from Mitcham's Corner to the roundabout, created some six (?) or so years ago, is crazy. In places it makes the pavement about a foot wide (east side near roundabout). It blocks visibility. It looks hideous. It is dangerous. It creates a lawless feeling, a sense that it's fine parking on the pavement anywhere. It's quite unnecessary - nearly all the houses along there have space for at least one car in the drive. (And in the odd place there isn't, since when has there been an automatic right to park outside your house?)
Residents' parking. I am not convinced by the argument that it should be introduced in order to stop commuters parking. The raison d'ĂȘtre of residents parking seems to have completely changed. The point until now was to give residents in Victorian and older streets, with no off-road parking, which were being completely taken up by commuter parking, a chance to park. It seems strange to introduce residents' parking on streets where houses have driveways or space to park one or more cars, and residents don't need to park on the street.
It also seems needlessly divisive. The people who are commuter parking might well like to live in Cambridge, and not have to drive in, but they may well have had to live outside Cambridge because houses are less expensive there. They might prefer to use public transport - but it may well not be good enough, so they have no choice but to drive.
Those of us who live in Cambridge, in the streets proposed for residents parking, are already fortunate to be able to live close to the centre, and close to bus routes/railway We probably have space to park at least one car in our driveway, and don't even need the residents parking.
It is the public highway, after all, not the private domain of those of us who live here.
His response to making the bottom end of Arbury Road safer is a little too tentative - you can't remove the parking that prevents us having cycle lanes gradually, but you need to look at where those cars will go, what kind of parking options can be offered elsewhere. This is solvable, but needs some courage. His answers on Mitchams Corner are ok too, but I'd like more detail on what he'd do.

So thats the Greens. And I'm... Stuck. One great candidate, one rubbish. I'd rate one at 9/10 and the other at 2/10. Maybe 6/10 on balance - but if you've got a green candidate all I can say is look very closely at what they say - you might have a cracker, you might have a stinker.



Cambridge Cycling Campaign Election Survey 3: Conservatives

Lets be honest, in Cambridge the Tories are about as popular as a bacon and egg sandwich at a vegan convention, but they might just surprise us with a council candidate win if they had just the right candidate in just the right ward. But thats not the point - they're still part of the local democratic discourse here....

But not so much in my ward, Kings Hedges. Where Annette Karimi always stands, always loses. And doesn't answer this survey or indeed respond to anything else. She's a paper candidate and everyone knows it - no one even knows what she looks like. There are also no Tory answers in East Chesterton or Arbury. So the first I've found is down in West Chesterton, a chap called Mike Harford.

So, what are his (and his families) experiences of cycling and how does that shape his views?
I do cycle about town. I enjoy seeing families cycling together and exercising as people of all ages. However I am very aware of safety. My wife as a pedestrian and also a good friend have had injuries due to irresponsible cyclists . This area must be addressed . Cyclists with impunity cycle through banned areas. I would have local laws using traffic wardens to fine those whom break the law and endanger others which covers other cyclists and especially those with toddlers aboard.
Well that's a great start isn't it? Someone was hurt due to 'irresponsible cyclists'. What, some kind of pile up of 'irresponsible cyclists'? Is that what you mean? Or was someone hurt by one other person and you're for some reason holding us all responsible, and you're going to blame us all for it and seek to punish us by stopping us from 'banned areas'? Such as where, Mike? Sorry, but this is a terrible first impression.

Does he support 'Space for Cycling'?
 I fully support the idea of separate cycling zones and equally safe walking areas. All this should be structured in the upcoming environmental plans. Obviously this must be done within reasonable financial resources. So I do support your objectives.
Dude, we're spending £1.5bn + on the A14 - we can afford a few notes for cycle facilities.There is no financial restraint on road spending when its cars, don't ask us to beg for scraps. And I take issue with the fact that you feel the need to specify this is something only supported alongside safe walking zones - no one interested in good cycle infrastructure opposes that, why are you trying to play cyclists off against pedestrians? 

Does he support evidence based policing?
I enthusiastic endorse this view as already outlined. I was a County Councillor on Highways some time ago. Safety must always be a priority . I may not be popular by saying that motorists should not always take the blame.
Errm... What? Who said they should? Sorry like, but on three occasions in your first three answers you've had a little quiet dig at cyclists. I don't get it - do you just think we're too thick to spot that, or can you just not help yourself?

But wait, it gets better. What measures would support kids cycling to school? 
 Absolutely agree. I used to cycle to school. This is a health issue . Prevention of obesity comes to mind for a start. Loads of Chelsea Tractors clogging up roads is not good. However I think children could form small groups going to school together. I think parents have concerns about sex offenders and maybe a reason they don't cycle?
So its pretty obvious he doesn't like cyclists (from his first three answers). But he also doesn't like people in the wrong sort of car. And its potential rapists that stop children cycling, not drivers or lack of facilities. This is swivel-eyed stuff of epic proportions. 

Regarding planning and the load that falls on Camcycle to spot whats wrong with applications...
 I understand what you say but any planning must take account of all interested parties. To have a separate cycle planning officer would not help you. You already are lobbying well as are others. It is important to have good Councillors and officers to make good judgements. Unfortunately the quality of all these is often lacking.
Yes, it does have to take account of all parties - including cyclists. A cycling officer doesn't just do planning, they do a lot more than that - and its not the job of charities to fix problems missed because we don't fund the necessary scrutiny. You haven't really given any kind of answer here Mike - you just don't get it at all.

Regarding Histon and Milton Road junction plans and other junctions that need work...
 I agree with your campaign. Anything that keeps cyclists and pedestrians away from motorists is preferable especially in Cambridge.

Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. WRONG.

Cycle lanes aren't to keep cyclists away from motorists. They're not. Thats not the point of them. The point of them is to provide fast, direct, safe routes to travel - if you start from the premise of keeping cyclists away from motorists you always end up with unrideable, indirect, badly thought out, poorly designed routes that no one uses. The point isn't to keep us out of your way, its to provide routes to encourage more people to cycle.  Gosh but so far this is a train-crash of a response from Mike.

For that ward there's a really interesting pavement and commuter parking question, thus:
All-day free parking by commuters on residential streets increases traffic on already congested roads. This has an impact on cycle safety. Many times cars are parked on pavements or across dropped kerbs, making access difficult for people with disabilities or pushing prams. How would you solve this problem?
 And his response... 
I am very strong on this. I used to live in Kensington where parking is very restricted between residents and paid parking. I would have this in all areas in Cambridge. Off Mill Road London commuters park there to avoid paying at the station. Parking on pavements is a difficult one to prevent. It is reasonable for people who live in the area to have space for a car.i In the same way I support your idea to have one space in every street for cycles. Unfortunately the area was not built for cars. However on a positive note in the future car ownership will seriously reduce due to new motorised technology so in time all will gradually get better.
Errm... What? You would have more paid parking? But you don't really care enough about disabled people to stop pavement parking? Dude I don't get the problem here - parent with a buggy, or person in a wheelchair, versus someone with a 'Chelsea tractor' as you put it dumping their private property in their way? Who do you favour? 

There's also a direct question on Arbury Road in this ward...
The eastern section of Arbury Road near Milton Road is narrow, filled with parked cars creating a cycle safety hazard, and speeding traffic far above the 20mph limit. How would you propose to create safe cycling conditions along this part of Arbury Road, for instance by extending the new cycle lanes?
And his answer is crap. 
 Some parking restrictions seems the best way.

There is one, and only one, workable answer. A quality cycle lane on the whole length of the road. I should point out that none of the candidates just come out and say this, although the Green and LibDems come closest.

And the last question, about Mitchams Corner, he just bottles. Honestly, I don't think Mikes heart is in it.  

Ok. So far so crap. Lets go find another. Martin Keegan is standing in Romsey. Experiences cycling and concerns for him and other family members?
I have never learnt to drive a car, thus I get around by cycle, train, Uber, planes, taxis and buses.
I was seriously injured in an accident on the Chisholm Trail last year when I fell off my own bicycle, and saw Stewart Milne on the ground as the ambulance arrived at the site of the crash that killed him, just a minute or two from where I now live. I can't imagine what it was like for his family.
These incidents have given me an even greater awareness of the importance of cycle safety. Having become able to cycle again a few weeks ago, I am now much more careful about the routes I take.
I live alone; if I had kids, I'd try to ensure they were risk-aware enough to be able to cycle independently, as I did from about the age of seven.
And again, I've got that sinking feeling. Notice its not about the risk presented by lack of or bad facilities. Its not about the risk posed by motorists mixing with cyclists (such as the collision that killed Stewart Milne that Martin refers to). Its about cyclists choosing safer routes - which, of course, if said route isn't taking you where you need to be, is nonsense. Oh, dear.

And does he support 'Space for Cycling'?

 I am a big believer in segregating cycling space from traffic and pedestrians, less so in reducing traffic per se. Transport choice is partly a matter for the private sector and partly the state: the Conservative government recently introduced the Bus Services Act 2017 allowing more local government involvement in organising bus services.
In terms of actual road infrastructure: motorists have been the principal beneficiaries of design decisions for several decades; this has influenced current attitudes and the cost of new measures. I do not approve of the "creepy demand management" measures that seem to crop up to try to coerce transport users' behaviour, in particular any congestion charging scheme that would undermine personal privacy.
Until recently, I lived on Great Eastern Street in Romsey, which is basically a pedestrian-unfriendly car-park and occasional building site. Workmen would literally use the road outside my bedroom for preparing building materials, and there were often considerable difficulties parking bicycles in a manner which didn't interfere with pedestrian access given the very narrow pavements.
The speed-bumps and other anti-car infrastructure in the heart of Romsey make life difficult for cyclists as well. Romsey has unusual arrangements for car parking and traffic; measures clearly designed for facilitating cycling, like those little single-lane cycle paths too often end up benefiting no-one as they're used for parking wheelie bins and otherwise obstructed.

So.... Errrm... Does he? He supports letting the free market decide rather than influencing behviour with policy, but that policy largely favours motorists and doesn't work for cycling, such as the examples he's given? Seems to me that free-market ideology matters most to him, and everything else has to be shoehorned in around that. His answer here is nonsense.

Now his answer to the next question is even worse. The question is the old 'evidence based policing' one, namely:
Safe use of the roads is a major issue. Our view is that traffic policing, of all groups of road users (cyclists, drivers, etc.), should become a greater police priority, and that this should be evidence-based, namely based on the relative levels of danger presented by each such group. What are your thoughts, and where would your priorities be?
His answer:
 The question doesn't distinguish between the cost of harm, the probably of harm, and the costs of preventing or mitigating harm.
Well, no, because the question isn't about harm, its about evidence and policing. I note that this candidate seems very concerned about 'costs' and not at all about 'values'. It isn't clear whether he's interested in 'evidence' or even 'policing' from this answer.

As for kids cycling to school, this question:  
 We are keen to see more children being able to cycle safely to school independently. Ideas from our members to assist this include protected space for cycling, parking/pickup bans 200m of schools, cycle parking. What measures would you suggest?
He replies with...
 I don't have kids, and am not an expert. I grew up in a different era, in a city much more conducive to safer cycling by children. The types of measures contemplated in the question don't strike me as likely to be practical in making a difference. There is probably a way of changing the culture, but it should be done gradually and by consent.
You can't change culture by just wishing for it. No city, anywhere in the world, has achieved mass cycling or improvements in cyclist safety by wishing for some nebulous concept of cultural change to just happen. This is complete nonsense - safe cycling facilities and changing how parents get to school by requiring cars park further away has been proven to work. 

Regarding planning:

The planning system is not fit for purpose. It's a very complicated problem that can only really be solved by Parliament, but the last few decades have presented numerous legislative opportunities to all the major parties, and the Liberal Democrats. Conservative councillors such as Chris Howell were vocal in opposing the Station Square catastrophe. We are less likely to take an indulgent attitude to the officers, and we need to get back on the city council to resume this spirited opposition.
Again, thats just weird. It doesn't acknowledge the problems as discussed in the question and it doesn't  really answer the question other than saying 'vote Tory'. 

This ward has a local Mill Road question, which is...
Mill Road is one of the premier high streets in the country. It is also an important cycle route since it crosses the railway. But it is also covered with badly-parked cars and plagued by speeding motorists who disregard the safety of people walking and cycling. During the Mill Road Winter Fair we get a glimpse of an alternative Mill Road, one that provides an amazing public space that people can really enjoy. For the rest of the year, how would you like to see Mill Road improved so that it can be a better place for people living there, shopping and visiting?
 This is an excellent question - Mill Road is loud, congested, polluted and absolutely hostile to cycling. And the response is...

My phones' image galleries are full of badly parked cars on Mill Road, albeit the bit that's in Petersfield, but the tailbacks that can be caused by a single illegally parked car can stretch all the way to Romsey (I had a photo of this too somewhere).
As it happens, I am not a big fan of closing roads for the Winter Fair and I don't agree with the premise that it provides an amazing public space. Some people don't feel welcome and I am one of them.
The Mill Road traders have recently had a tough couple of years but it must be possible to improve the way deliveries are currently handled.
I'm struggling to express how little I understand this response. Mill Road Fair (and the Winter Fair) attract many thousands of people who spend lots of money in the shops, stalls, and cafes there. Its a colossal success enjoyed by, well, a colossal and diverse array of people. I've never heard anyone say they feel unwelcome there - this 'some people' would appear to be this guy. He's also failed to give us any credible suggestions for fixing the problems on Mill Road - yeah, illegal parking, thats one thing. What about the buses? How about the extra traffic that housing developments are bringing? What about pollution? 

His answer on pavement parking and fly-parking shows he hasn't understood the problem or what powers the City Council has. 

There's another hyper-local question regarding Mill Road bridge, and its a good one:
 Overtaking on Mill Road Bridge is highly dangerous and scary for many people who cycle, from parents with children to very experienced people. The police response so far has been extremely limited. Instead, we would like to see high-profile, concerted action resulting in prosecutions. What are your views?
 Martins answer is stupid. 
I have always advocated crowdfunding private criminal prosecutions where the police and the CPS are letting crime get out of hand and the community needs to act, though I don't expect the Cambridge Cycling Campaign to share my radicalism in this matter.
Thats not radical. Its unworkable. Individuals can't identify perpetrators of illegal overtakes, we haven't the resources. You aren't being radical by advocating a dumb idea, you're just being dumb.

He has replied to whether some street space used for car storage (a term he gently takes issue with) by complaining bikes get stolen outside in the last question. And, thats it.

Thats our two Tory candidates looked at. And I've got to say, I've rarely encountered a more pointless bunch. What a load of total crap. 



If cyclists being treated with respect is important to you, don't vote Tory. Zero out of 10. Just don't bother. 

Cambridge Cycling Campaign Election Survey 2: Liberal Democrats

LibDems are the main opposition in Cambridge right now. Its not impossible that by the end of NEXT years election cycle they'll be in control of the city council, but its a big ask. Still, that means that the views of this years candidates really matter - it isn't at all impossible that they could end up putting some of these views into practice.

As ever, I'll start with Kings Hedges. Daniele Gibney is their candidate. 

Regarding her experience and that of her family...
I grew up in the Netherlands, and so have been cycling from a very early age. I’ve never owned a car, and aside from a period of 1.5 years when I commuted by train, cycling has always been my primary mode of transport. Since moving to Cambridge, I’ve always been lucky enough to work locally and have a pleasant cycle commute. My partner is also a cyclist.
I don’t have either younger or older family members locally, but in general I’m worried about more vulnerable cyclists. That’s not limited to children or older people – several young adults I know are unsure on a bike. I was amazed when I moved to Cambridge to see how often cyclists are required to share road space with buses, and in general are given little protection on busy roads. I know people who are less confident can be put off cycling in such circumstances.
That all seems fair enough. I share her concerns. 

The second question is the 'space for cycling' one...
 A key aim of our organisation is enabling more people to cycle, by the provision of protected space for cycling away from traffic, not shared with pedestrians, thus reducing traffic and providing transport choice. This best-practice is outlined in our guide, Making Space For Cycling, endorsed by all national cycling organisations. Do you support these principles, and if so, where could they most effectively be applied in your ward?
And her answer is pretty strong, as far as it goes:

 Yes, I support these principles. For Milton Road, I support the proposals for segregated cycle lanes with priority over side roads. On King’s Hedges Road, I’ve long been bemused by the cycle lanes that hop on and off the pavement. Linking from King’s Hedges Road to the cycle lane alongside the busway is very confusing – the interchanges have no clear route through and signage is poor. 
There are a lot of off-road cut-throughs in our ward – which is excellent, but some are narrow and have blind spots, and are used by both cyclists and pedestrians, leading to potential conflict. It would be good to see improvements made, though possibilities in each case will naturally depend on available space and balancing the effects on our green spaces. The cut-through between Woodhead Drive and Hawkins Road is an example of dedicated space done well, though with a very awkward dog-leg at one end.
Thats fine. But the elephant in the room is Arbury Road - do you support extending protected cycle lanes all down the length of the road, to connect Kings Hedges to other parts of the city via. a quality cycle facility? Or do you not? Its a simple choice - residents parking or cycle lane, which do you support?

Regarding 'evidence based policing' I was just starting to cheer her on when she dropped a clanger...

I fully agree with taking an evidence-based approach. Not just in terms of relative danger, but also in terms of the amount of impact that can be achieved – e.g. is it possible to ‘nudge’ behaviours to make big differences. I’ll be interested to see the outcomes from ‘Operation Close Pass’, and whether the same techniques have any effect on other behaviours such as using mobile phones while driving. Some larger vehicles can pose a particular danger to cyclists, particularly if their mirrors leave areas unsighted. The London Safer Lorry Scheme is interesting – requiring e.g. all heavy vehicles to carry appropriate mirrors to be able to see cyclists and pedestrians. I’d like to see similar ideas adopted in Cambridge.

I think cyclists also need to take responsibility though. When I learned to drive, I was stunned by how hard it is to spot unlit cyclists in the dark, and I get nervous when I see people using phones while cycling. These cyclists put themselves in danger, but if there’s a collision drivers and others can also get hurt. Cyclists should always be considerate around pedestrians in shared use areas.
Policing approaches should be about education, not just sanctions. Education campaigns can operate more widely though, for example advocating the ‘Dutch reach’ – I’ve been doored in the past so I’m very keen on that one.
So you believe in evidence based policing except where you instead prefer your own beliefs? You're emphasizing the cause of around 2% of cyclist KSI (and thats a generous over-statement)  caused by poor or no bike lights alongside the 70% or more caused by motorist inattention? I think Daniele is great in how she's proposing we should look at evidence - but I think she needs to go further in formulating her own opinions based thereon.

 The schools question:
We are keen to see more children being able to cycle safely to school independently. Ideas from our members to assist this include protected space for cycling, parking/pickup bans 200m of schools, cycle parking. What measures would you suggest?
Her answer is...
 These sound like good ideas. Also engage with schools (we have quite a few in King’s Hedges) to get a sense of any particular issues affecting the routes their students use (or would use, but feel they can’t). It would also be worth engaging with parents, to understand and, hopefully, address their concerns.
Thats close to spot on, but I do think she could have picked out the obvious fact that what makes a transport environment better for kids makes it better for everyone. Still, I can't disagree with what she's said there.

Question 5 is this one:
 Our volunteers spend a lot of time scrutinising planning applications for failures such as lack of secure cycle parking, poor access, failure to fund nearby improvements to make the roads safer, and so on. Many of these things get let through by officers and Councillors in clear contravention of the Local Plan. The lack of a full-time cycling officer makes this situation even worse. What are your main concerns about the planning system, and how would you seek to make improvements?
And I must say I'm disappointed with Danieles response:
 As I’m not currently ‘on the inside’ I don’t have full insight into the system. However, I do share your concerns about cycle facilities not being catered for appropriately, or indeed being watered down as plans are implemented. The CB1 development is a case in point. I’d want to understand better how these issues arise and where controls can be strengthened. I’m sure the Cambridge Cycling Campaign would be able to suggest some recent examples that would be worth looking into.
Look, I get it. A great response for a local politician when faced with a hard question is to compliment the questioners knowledge and act like you'll learn from them. Once in a while a prospective councillor will say this and actually even mean it. But here I can't help but think that the right answer is 'yeah, you know what, having volunteers doing the work of council officers isn't the best idea, lets look at it' would be a better answer. 

But question 6 about junctions is a strong recovery - she has hilighted several that need improving and clearly does get the need to improve the Milton and Histon Road junctions. Top marks there. But then on pavement parking Daniele completely blows it:
There are a few options for managing something like this, such as a traffic regulation order or physical barriers on the pavement, and each comes with pros and cons. As a party, our preferred approach is to consult with residents locally to find an approach that carries support, and arrange the appropriate applications. The best option may differ from one street, or set of streets, to the next.
Nope. Pavement parking is always a problem - yes, the degree to which it is a problem in different places varies but the idea of spending -years- (and it takes that long) consulting on each individual space? Of pitching cyclists against residents again, and again, and again? Come on, no. You know this isn't going to solve anything. Pavement parking endangers cyclists, it endangers pedestrians, and its a huge problem for the disabled. There are city-wide solutions - why aren't you supporting that?

On the last question, on barriers on cycle routes, I think she's knocked the ball out of the park:
I understand that the Cambridge Cycling Campaign has had their LHI bid supported to review the barriers in King’s Hedges and Arbury, so hopefully improvements are already in store. There are some that simply need to go – on the cut-though between Campkin Road and Ramsden Square for example, which is almost impassable for a normal cycle, and completely impossible for larger cycles (or indeed wheelchairs and mobility scooters). The gates on the Northfield Avenue underpass, and elsewhere, are really awkward for cyclists with trailers and other longer vehicles. Where necessary, it’s possible to use bollards that will still deter motorised traffic, while giving sufficient space for larger cycles.
Yep. Rip them out. If you really must have one to stop idiots driving through spaces they shouldn't be in they have to be permeable to cyclists.

Ok, so much for Kings Hedges. Up and down but more up than down. We went to Chesterton for a second candidate last time so this time lets head West and see whats happening in Arbury, where veteran beard Tim Ward is having a bash at getting re-elected.

His families experience of cycling and how it relates to recognised problems... 
I and my family routinely cycle both within Cambridge and beyond, including daily commuting. There are various hazards, with the worst at the moment being the proliferation of potholes which distract attention that should be spent on situational awareness, along with the perennial illegally and antisocially parked taxis, and completely oblivious pedestrians stepping out in front of cyclists without looking in the city centre. One of which led to a broken wrist (and destroyed bike) in my family since you asked this question last year.
I'm slightly surprised he hasn't mentioned the big problem being motorists passing closely really scares the wits out of people, but otherwise thats reasonable. Regarding 'Space for Cycling' I'm disappointed though:
 I support the principles, but as there is essentially no unused land available for new development in Arbury the use cases would be largely restricted to "street renewals". The recent work at the top end of Arbury Road is interesting, but even this has its downside, making the right turn into St Alban's Road that much more challenging now that both lanes of traffic are no longer slowed down by the mini roundabout. The poor GCP proposals for Histon Road show the difficulties of satisfying the demands of cycling as well as those of preserving trees and front gardens where available land is severely restricted, but at least, following representations I made last year, the proposal to ban cyclists from turning right into Warwick Road has now been dropped.
Well, yes, almost all relevant road schemes, everywhere, are renewals. And we're in the middle of the biggest road renewal project in the history of the City right now, thats a big component of City Deal. Thats not a negative, its a big opportunity. And I'm disappointed that Tim has touched on Arbury Road without mentioning the elephant in the room - its only going to go down half of the length of the road. People living Arbury won't have a safe route down the whole length of the road. Sorry Tim, this is lacklustre - and you're failing the residents of your ward here.

As for 'evidence based policing'...
 I agree with your view. My priorities would go with the evidence, following the accident record, in addition to listening to Camcycle and local people via the Area Committee, and addressing any behaviour patterns that emerge as problematic.
Well, yay for evidence based policing! I take issue with his focus on the Area Committee - almost no bugger goes to that, the last one I went to had two attendees who were not part of a political party group, a residents (otherwise known as 'parking') association or Richard Taylor. Thats probably the worst forum imaginable for judging relative needs in the community. The average age of attendees was, by my reckoning, around 200 years old. It should and could be valuable but it isn't.

And getting kids riding to school..
The measures already suggested seem a reasonable starting point, along with perhaps some more police priority (see Q3) given to things like parking in the new cycle lanes on Arbury Road outside St Laurence School ... but perhaps this has already been actioned, as I have seen less of it recently than used to be the case.
The city wide 20mph project which I led whilst a councillor was in part aimed at encouraging higher rates of cycling to school.
Yeah, ok. Can't argue there - but, again, I do wonder that none of the candidates have spotted that what works for kids works for everyone. Children riding bikes are a barometer for whether we're getting road management right. 

Regarding the problem with planning and the work Camcycle do being better done by council staff, Tim gives a trademark boring answer that seems entirely fair and correct - and is at least being proactive in a way other candidates I've looked at so far haven't.
 This is a bureaucratic process question, so I'm afraid I am going, of necessity, to give a bureaucratic process answer. I could guess where improvements might be effective, but it's quite easy to guess this sort of thing wrong, so I'd take an "issues and options" approach. I would commission an investigation into the scope and scale of the problem, perhaps by the Internal Audit team, to identify the root causes of recent problems ("issues") and suggest remedial measures ("options"). These can then be evaluated and the most effective measures chosen for implementation.
I'd only say that I don't believe that the City Council is capable of introspective self criticism - they'll find excuses rather than improvements. I get what Tim is saying here but my experience of the City Council doesn't suggest this will work. Still, its at better approach than we've seen from other candidates so far.

His response re. barriers on bike routes is proactive and fair. But then his answer on junctions just seems weird. 

Whilst it would be of value to many cyclists, I would not like "fully separated" to be compulsory - for example in the proposed "improved" version of the Milton Road / Elizabeth Way junction I would probably go straight on along Milton Road westwards in the main carriageway rather than be held up on the segregated cycle path, and the animation fails to demonstrate such behaviour and thus might give an overestimate of motor vehicle speed and thus capacity. Cambridge Cycling Campaign has in the past been supportive of "confident cyclists" who use their right to use the main carriageway as well as those who prefer segregated facilities, and I hope they will continue to be so. As always, the right balance must be struck.
One thing I would seek to do is carry out an audit of controlled junctions which don't have advance stop boxes for cyclists, and find out why they don't, and campaign to add them where it is physically and legally possible (even if it might reduce junction capacity for motor vehicles). A relatively straightforward improvement for segregated movement for cyclists, albeit not segregated road space, might then be to add more "cyclists go first" phases to some of the traffic lights.

I'd have expected Tim to know that cycle facilities aren't compulsory. Fully separated routes give us safe space that almost all cyclists will choose to use, but your're not legally compelled to do so. A confident cyclists doesn't have to - but if that route is good enough then said confident cyclist will. I don't get that there is a 'right balance' between safe cycle facilities and, well, not safe cycle facilities. Tim here is simply wrong. And ASL? They're no use at all if you can't get to them. I'm rather afraid that Tims approach is the approach of the 1990s - and that didn't work. 

As for Histon road, this is a great little question...
How will you work with the GCP to improve walking and cycling proposals in their Histon Road scheme, in particular with regard to children cycling to school at the Mayfield Primary School, crossing Histon Road near Carisbrooke Road, and within the narrow section of road from Aldi south to the junction with Victoria Road?
...with Tims worst answer yet:

 The Histon Road scheme was aimed at improving bus times along Histon Road, which always struck me as being rather a big ask as, whatever was done along the road, buses would continue to get held up at the junctions at the ends. The original proposals seemed to be more aimed at car drivers than anyone else ("hey look, they've put in a bus lane, which takes all those pesky buses out of my car lane, so I'll drive more often"): they certainly didn't look good for cyclists, or trees, or owners of front gardens, or people living along the several rat-runs that would have been created. After I and others, including the Histon Road Area Residents Association, made representations a number of the worst features of the original plans have been dropped, and the plan then spent some time on the "too difficult" pile making no visible progress. However it has recently been revived and we're awaiting the next set of "final" proposals: the feeling at the moment seems to be that the plans will end up delivering a small net benefit for cyclists, albeit at vast cost. 
Personally I cycle along Histon Road most weeks and don't usually have any problems apart, of course, from the potholes - perhaps the GCP money could be better spent fixing the potholes on Histon Road, so that cyclist can have some attention to spare to watch the traffic? 
Particularly in the narrow section from Victoria Road northwards motor traffic, in both directions, is in my experience usually well behaved towards cyclists, and indeed drivers are only too pleased when they can actually drive as fast as the cyclists! The only manoeuvre that I sometimes find difficult is turning right into the passageway through to Borrowdale, through traffic accelerating away from the Gilbert Road traffic lights. But that's a wide section of road that does already have a cycle lane, and it's not obvious that there's any sensible intervention that would be proportionate for the limited number of people making that turn.
Tim is making the cardinal error of assuming a cycle facility is there for someone who already cycles, someone how put off by a hostile road environment. Tim, you're the last person to ask about whether its safe, you already ride it, you need to talk to the people who don't ride it because they don't feel safe there - and there are obviously many. Stand there at commuting time and count the cyclists, then stand on Hills Road where the new bike lanes are and count them. Cycle facilities are about facilitating more riders, not trivially helping out those who ride already. I'm very disappointed by this - Histon Road is savage and needs taming.

As for how he'd improve cycling on Carlton Way...
 I wouldn't have started from here - I wouldn't have put in the current scheme. The illustrated route appears to me to be a failed attempt to provide a segregated facility at any cost, no matter how poor the result (I cycle on the main carriageway there but appreciate that not all cyclists will want to). My recollection is that this was part of a scheme which, bizarrely, seemed to be designed to ADD space for parking for children to be driven to school! - I did question how the scheme was supposed to comply with the County Council's priority of "walking and cycling first" but didn't get a straight answer from them. In improving that area I would look at whether we really need to allocate road space for driving children to school, but as the current scheme was put in so recently I can't imagine the County being happy to spend money tearing it out again just yet.
Thats not an answer. Its an evasion. The question isn't 'what would you have done' its 'what would you do now'. The answer to fixing Carlton Way is a doddle, and I don't see why Tim doesn't get it.

I don't know what to say. Its a roller-coaster looking at the LibDems, they vary from spot on to just awful. Would I feel confident that, between them, they'd support a better environment for cycling? No. Do I believe we'd see some support for small improvements? No. Is that good enough? No. 5/10. Do better.