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?