Cambridge for Cyclists

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Cycle lanes

The provision of cycle lanes/routes is very patchy: famously the most important cycle lanes end suddenly, just when they're most needed to protect cyclists from heavy traffic.

See also the Cambridge Cycling Campaign and the bizarre case of Malcolm Street.

The Campaign's Manifesto for Cycling Provision has been welcomed by the County Council, especially its emphasis on quality over quantity of cycle lanes.

County Council cycling initiatives

Bizarre advice

Ceefax 23-Sep-2001 carried a report on the latest campaign from the geniuses at Shire Hall: the Road Safety Officer Steve Merritt has set up a campaign of posters on the rear of buses alerting cyclicts to the dangers of riding too close to large vehicles. As most cyclists in Cambridge know all too well, most of this type of danger comes from those large vehicles (particularly buses) barging past cyclists dangerously.

Cycle Challenge scheme

In 1995 142,000 was awarded to the Council by the Department of Transport's scheme to promote combined cycle and train travel.

Cycle facilities at stations were suppoesed to be improved & promoted.

45,000 was to go towards making it easier for Cambridge workers to switch from cars to bikes.

Anglia Railways received 75,000 to provide more spaces for bikes, starting with two of its Norwich service trains but by Summer 1997 all 14 trains. Racks for four bikes per train were fitted. It's gone on to other pro-cycling schemes such as a get-you-home service should you break down.

West Anglia Great Northern, operating the King's Cross service, refused to join in, saying its priority is for seating passengers and to be for commuters (excluding those on bikes, apparently). They have banned bikes from their trains at peak times. As operators of Cambridge Station, their cycle parking provision is a joke. However they did set up a cycle hire discount scheme with Cambridge Recycles for tourists. In late 1998 they finally began to take cyclists seriously: they purged the cycle stands of old bikes, put some more stands up and in 1999 started offering free cycle hire to regular commuters.

Irresponsible cyclists

Judging by items in the Cambridge Evening News and by personal experience, the biggest single problem is how to cope with irresponsible cyclists: both teenage language students and residents (all ages).

Cycling on the pavement and cycling without lights have become the norm throughout the City.

One never sees young language students behaving appropriately on bikes: they clearly do not have the necessary skills or inclination. (The mature language students, present all year round, are relatively competent though often annoyingly timid.)

Many of the young students attend unregulated language schools, who take students as young as 10 (CEN 21-Dec-1995) and who often have to cycle 3-4 miles each day for lessons. Reputable language schools fear Cambridge is getting a bad name because of these. As residents know, in practice these young students seem to spend nearly all day (approx. 10:00-23:00) hanging around places like Parker's Piece. Sights such as organised groups of cyclists in bright jackets being instructed are all too rare.

In July 1997 the Northern division of the City police had a zero-tolerance crackdown on bad cycling. That's better than nothing but what about the central division, where most of the cyclists are? They managed to do it until the mid-1980s! In late 1998 and early 1999 they at last decided to crack down on cyclists without lights then on those riding on pavements. However there's been no noticeable improvement.