Category Archives: Cambridge

Lit ways, March–April 2011

I haven’t done an OpenStreetMap-related post for a while—so, as a token, I’m going to revisit the progress of the lit=yes tagging in the Cambridge region …something I covered in this post a few months ago.

Lit ways of southwestern Cambridge, March--April 2011. Rendering and data Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 to and its contributors.

So what’s changed?; … not much, actually. The extent of Cambridge city’s lit ways is still very much limited to the southwest corner of town: Trumpington and Addenbrooke’s. The guided busway is partially lit, and the A1301 into Great Shelford forms the long ribbon of street lighting down to the bottom-right of the image above.

Street lighting isn’t too high up on the OpenStreetMap agenda: I’m assuming someone is to develop a fully-fledged OSM-based ‘sat nav’ and so I’m concentrating more on things like speed limits, number of lanes and road width—and also on tagging things which the CycleStreets engine picks up on: surfaces of cycleways and other highways in particular, which hopefully should be taken into consideration in a future version of the CycleStreets site.


Harston Surgery’s laughable lack of cycle parking

Before I begin, I’ve put this under the ‘Cambridge’ category even though Harston is a few kilometers outside even the city limit, and I’ve put it under the ‘Cycleways’ category—which I might change to ‘Cycle infrastructure’ or something similar in the future.

Harston Surgery, which is a small, half-a-dozen-doctors doctors’ surgery in Harston, Cambridgeshire. It has zero cycle parking spaces … no stands, not even wheelbenders; nothing. Here’s a picture of where I have to park my bike (most certainly not my Challenge Hurricane as the insurers wouldn’t pay out if it was nicked or damaged; nothing to lock it to you see) on the odd occasion when I have to visit the surgery. I say “odd occasion”; I haven’t been ill-ill for years (perhaps because I cycle a lot) and when it’s something physiological I have to go in for, I usually get a lift.

By the way, they’re just propped-up against the wall of the building and locked to themselves.

I’m not sure why there’s no cycle parking. If dear ol’ David Hembrow finds this post, I wonder if he could tell me how many stands are available at his local surgery in the Netherlands. Maybe it’s a matter of cost; I don’t think it’s a matter of where to put them as I know (and a high-resolution aerial photograph will prove me right) there are plenty of gravel-filled-in-with square plots of a few metres by a few metres at the rear of the building overlooking the approximately twenty-space car park. Car parking is such a problem that the Queens Head PH ’round the corner has offered patients the use of their car park free of charge.

While Harston Surgery has no spaces, but I believe Arbury Road Surgery (on the corner of Arbury and Campkin Roads) in the city has a full twelve spaces—six Sheffield stands, fitting two bikes to a stand.


Gresham Road and the coming 20 mph limit

According to this article from the Cambridge News, “a £200,000 scheme to improve safety on Mill Road” has been given the go-ahead by the City Council. This includes a 20 mph speed limit stretching the length of Mill Road west of the railway bridge and on “many of the neighbouring streets too”—a list of roads to be reduced in speed can be found here, accessed 2011-02-13. The list states that a 20 mph limit will be coming to Gresham Road and I have a feeling that Cambridgeshire Highways (or whoever will be procuring and installing the signage) will make a mistake at the Parker’s Piece end of Gresham Road, where the road turns into a short 15–20 m-long cycleway before crossing Gonville Place. I have a feeling the Council will sign the 20/30 mph transition even though no motor vehicles are permitted through there. [1] The only people who use that ‘entrance’ to Gresham Road are pedal cycles and pedestrians: both groups will be unaffected by the speed limit. [2] While there aren’t any “no flying motorcycles” signs at the end of Gresham Road in question (unlike, let’s say, the cut-through between Highworth Avenue and Leys Road; cf. this pretty-old image), I doubt motor vehicles (narrow enough to fit through the bollards, the clearance being about 1.25 m perhaps) are permitted to travel through said cut-through between Gresham Road and Gonville Place. (That’s why I’ve put in an FOI request.) If motorcycles, et al. are permitted, there would be justification to procure and install such signs—unlike this hilarious signage on Sidney Street. Don’t get me wrong—I’m not not supporting the introduction of the 20 mph limit; it’s just that councils have been known to put signs up with no justification for doing so, wasting time and taxpayers’ money in the process. I’m not a huge fan of that.

Update: Cambridgeshire County Council sent me a 306-page document regarding [1], cf. [3]. On page 212, the document states that “Gresham Road [… at] its junction with Gonville Place” and v.v. is a “[point] in [a road] beyond which no motor vehicles are permitted in any direction”. Since the document also says “Gonville Place [at] its junction with Gresham Road”, does this mean that the toucan crossing over Gonville Place at the ‘junction’ with Gresham Road is one such point, beyond which no motor vehicle can proceed in any direction … including up and down A603/Gonville Place?

[1]: I’ve put in an FOI request to Cambridgeshire Highways to ask “are motor vehicles permitted to drive through said cut-through?”; the request can be found at [3] and I’ll post an update when I get a reply.
[2]: Road Traffic Regulation Act 1984 section 84 makes reference to “motor vehicles” on three occasions and “vehicles” on zero occasions; pedal cycles are, quite clearly, not motor vehicles (but they are still vehicles). All legally enforceable speed limit orders therefore refer only to motor vehicles and pedal cycles do not have to adhere to speed limits.
[3] The original FOI request sent to Cambridgeshire County Council, along with the 2011-02-28 reply, can be found using this link.

Box junction antics

On the morning of 2nd February, I made the mistake of ‘shortcutting’ up Castle Street, Cambridge—which ends at the junction of Mount Pleasant, Victoria Road, Histon Road and Huntingdon Road; locally known as ‘Murkett’s Corner’. At said junction, possibly owing to the morning’s closure of the A14, the signal phases couldn’t take the volume of traffic and thus the box junction on the junction was being misused. I wasn’t going to be a part of this misuse and I waited like anyone else should. As I got to the junction, a coach (reg no. AK02 LPX) had already crossed over both the stop line and the ASL stop line [1] and I was prevented from going anywhere for perhaps four or five green lights. When the coach finally moved off, I assumed my position at the head of the ASL and waited again. The lights turn green, my exit was blocked and the lights went red again—this happened three more times. On the seventh green light, I still couldn’t go anywhere without committing a box junction offence; the male in the vehicle (LL04 GYA) behind me was clearly extremely angry that I was obeying the law that he undertook me and queued across the box junction in front of me.

In the frame above, LL04 GYA with a rather grubby registration plate: the driver who overtook me because I was obeying the law (TSRGD, regulation 29 and TSRGD, part II of schedule 19Road Traffic Act 1988 section 36). He subsequently blocked the box junction. Note also my right foot and KV04 KEN.

I finally was able to squeeze down the offside of a few vehicles …but only on the eighth green light.


Addenbrooke’s Road (née Access Road)

In one week’s time (27th January 2011), Addenbrooke’s Road in the south of Cambridge will be three months old. I’ve ridden on it perhaps three times. It’s not the best road to cycle on—even though it has both an alright (I guess) shared-use path on its northern side that has priority at side roads, though they’re currently leading to nowhere, and mandatory cycle lanes for its entire length.

I use Francis Crick Avenue far more, because it’s on my route to college. It’s okay; again with the mandatory cycle lanes—but no off-road cycleways and oddly no speed limit. (Private road, you see.) I cycle outside the cycle lanes on most roads; their use is not compulsory and I shouldn’t be forced anywhere. (JSYK, I also cycle on the outside of bus lanes.) I usually get toot’d for doing this: on Francis Crick Avenue, I have never in three months got tooted. I’m putting this down to the restrictions signed at either end of the road: “no motor vehicles except for access to hospitals”, which is (shown by the lack of horns) interpreted as “motor vehicles are guests.

A rather badly worded rant at oiks

I wrote a couple of weeks ago about the possibility of ‘dualling’ all singular cattle grids in Cambridge; I also mentioned in the first paragraph of the post that there was only one double cattle grid in Cambridge—a relatively new installation at the southern end of New Bit, kind of here-ish.

Pretty much the morning after I wrote that post, I stumbled upon another double cattle grid that I’ve been crossing regularly for the best part of two years and a half years. I thought it would be simple enough to find a picture of it on CycleStreets but I could only find one acceptable photograph; you’ll just have to put up with that woman’s backside. As awesome as I’ve made double cattle grids seem, there is one negative recurrence that happens at this particular double cattle grid: some people aren’t as civilised as others and insist on riding up the outside of the queue of waiting-to-cross cyclists (positioned where that lady and her backside are), and then these uncivilised oiks block one’s path when one’s crossing Maids Causeway (the road with the toucan crossing on it) from Fair Street (the road on the far side of the frame).

Now some people might say “Well … look what happens if you have double cattle grids; people resort to dangerous overtaking”; that’s unjustified drivel. What happens at the Fair Street crossing is a minority of cyclists (let’s not get into pedestrians not using the pedestrian crossing; grumble …segregation, road tax, etc.) jump the queue for the lights and piss everyone off—not just people travelling onto the Common but also people crossing Maids Causeway as well; there’s only room for two streams of bikes, not three. This is a problem with the Fair Street crossing, which is a heavily used crossing in its own right and I cannot think what it would be like to use if the double cattle grid was only one bike’s width wide.


Hills Road bridge roadworks

This is probably too preemptive of me but I’m going to state that roadworks on Hills Road bridge, Cambridge have finished—in so far as cyclists can enjoy reasonably-wide cycle lanes up and down the bridge inbound without having to share them with motor vehicles and motorists can go from the south into town without having to share a lane with cyclists (the case of the last fortnight or so). The roadworks on the bridge aren’t complete: some of the traffic islands haven’t been filled in and that ruddy build-out still hasn’t been removed … but from the point of view of “I won’t go that way because there are roadworks”, this is no longer the case and you have no excuse. Et cetera, et cetera; I’m trying to write a 500-word report right now. Just thought I’d bring you this news if you didn’t already notice it on your way in this morning.


Your Council is *this* incompetent

If you’re aware of the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway, you might be aware that certain lengths of the northern section‘s maintenance track flood. A logical solution to this ‘defect’ would be to raise the level of the maintenance track above that of the water table but this solution isn’t exactly possible or practicable. I now quote section 3.14 of an agenda item to Cabinet, dated tomorrow (14th December 2010):

There has been a considerable amount of informal use of the maintenance track by cyclists and pedestrians over the last twelve months. A number of these have opted to use the guideway past the flooded sections. This will obviously not be acceptable once bus running commences. It is therefore proposed to augment the small flood warning signs already provided with gates across the maintenance track, carrying appropriate signs, warning that the track is flooded and advising against trespassing on the guideway track. These can be locked open when not required and locked closed when the track is flooded. This will not prevent use of the maintenance track but will give the fullest possible warning. It should be noted that visibility on this section of the Busway is far in excess of stopping distance, nonetheless bus drivers will be advised to be particularly vigilant when the maintenance track is closed.

I’ll leave you to judge the Busway team’s near-awkward level of idiocity.


The dualling of cattle grids

I drafted this post a few weeks ago (late November) but having mentioned this yesterday (7th December) at the Cambridge Cycling Campaign monthly meeting, I thought it would be a good idea to write up my proposal. Across Cambridge exist areas of common land: these areas are open to the public and all (that I can think of) have cycleways and footways stretching across them. At all but one site in Cambridge (the exception being the northwest portion of Coe Fen), cattle grids are available for cyclists to use to gain access to the cycleways and footways that cross the commons. Again with the exceptions: apart from one location in Cambridge if my memory serves me correctly, each cattle grid is a single cattle grid—permitting only one vehicle to cross at any one time. It’s a textbook source of congestion (yes: cycle congestion) and a textbook problem warrants a textbook solution: dualling. Yes … my proposal is to dual the most-frequently-used single cattle grids in Cambridge.

According to the Campaign, the installation of a single cattle grid costs £4000—though I’m not sure when that quote dates from. Cattle grids at the entrances to common land are “one of the most popular innovations made in Cambridge”, though that quote is probably only true because alternatives include the universally-hated pram handles. Using my U grade in Maths, I can work out that 2 × £4000 is £8000; I do understand it doesn’t quite work like that but then-again: some additional costs could well be offset by the savings made by doing two lots of works at the same time—if you get what I’m hinting at. I haven’t done any censuses or premedial work—yeah, it’s a word—but I guarantee that the dualling of at least the cattle grids around (and also on) Midsummer Common will make commuting by bike in Cambridge just that little bit easier (though commuters will talk to each other just that little bit less).

Before you ask, I *am* joking with the right-hand one


You know what cattle grids look like; also note that it’s an unaccompanied horse on that poorly-Illustrator’d sign. Yeah: attention to detail (that I had to point out but, still; yeah).

Guided busway thoughts, plus the Chisholm Trail

I think about my commute more than most people perhaps. I was thinking this afternoon about the guided busway (after reading the latest Cambridge Cycling Campaign newsletter) and how, when the southern section opens, I’ll be able to whisk myself from Trumpington to the station without having to use god-awful infrastructure (the Trumpington shared-use up-and-down nightmare that is the Trumpington shared-use up-and-down nightmare) and getting stuck behind eight-year-olds doing 10 kph weaving all across the path … and it’s a segregated shared-use path, so the (let me think …) western side is technically a pavement. It’s a horrible piece of cycleway and the worst part is is that (even though I know I don’t have to) I feel I need to use it. I do occasionally cycle on Trumpington Road itself but that’s only to overtake said eight-year-old shitcakes and their shitcake parents (CONTROL YOUR FUCKING CHILDREN and set a good example by cycling legally; thank you) …but I go back onto the cycleway afterwards. During the autumn, it’s mulchy; during the winter, it’s icy; during the spring and summer, it’s (only just) acceptable. The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway will hopefully change this situation—no side roads, no traffic signals and a 3.0 (or so) metre-wide unsegregated cycleway. Not a shared-use path; a cycleway: a piece of infrastructure I’m proud to call a cycleway.

Then there’s the Chisholm Trail which is a proposal to build a cycleway between the northern end of Cambridge station’s car park—I guess—and Milton Road (at the point at which the old railway would have crossed the road; now, opposite the start of the guided busway’s northern section). There’s a “spare” arch on the western side of Mill Road’s bridge over the Fen Line; I’m not 100% sure how much space there is under the Coldhams Lane and Newmarket Road bridges, and there’s also the problem of building a bridge alongside the current bridge which takes said Fen Line over the Cam south of Fen Road. (You know where I’m talking about; don’t lie.)

Cambridge cycleways (with annotation)

Travelling northwards: ...solid line next to A10: awful shared-use path that I never use. Dashed line crossing M11 northwest of 'Westfield' roundabout: proposed cycleway across fields and ex-PBI land. Dashed line curving smoothly into town from the south: guided busway's maintenance track, to be opened and surfaced 'shortly'. Dashed line between Cambridge station (blue square, south of Petersfield) and Milton Road: the proposed Chisholm Trail. Short solid line north/northeast of Kings Hedges: currently open (but unsurfaced) busway maintenance track. Base of image is CC BY-SA 2.0, contributors.

Now … the Chisholm Trail is, unfortunately, a long way off being built (I think) but—the southern section of the guided busway is looking increasingly ‘ready’ every day. Yesterday (Friday 26th) at Trumpington Park & Ride, warning bells (similar to the kind you find at some level crossings; see diagram 781 at bottom of linked image) had been hung from a bar that had gone in on Thursday(?) which had been installed onto two upright bars, which were installed on Wednesday(?). Warning bells have also been installed on the eastern side of the railway where the busway meets Francis Crick Avenue. These are relatively trivial busway features to point out to you but the developers are progressing with the construction of (at least) the southern section. The northern section of the busway looks finished and because of this, perhaps, many are wondering “just when is it going to open?” (by which they mean “when are buses going to start running?” and I mean “when are you going to surface the maintenance track?”).

The point of this post was to illustrate that if the Council upgraded the pathetic excuse for a shared-use path between the B1368/A10 junction (the northern of the two B1368/A10 junctions in the country) on the outskirts of Harston and the southern section of the CBG, and then if a route existed between Cambridge station and the end of the northern section of the busway, and then if the Council surfaced the maintenance track alongside the busway between Milton Road and Kings Hedges Drive … and then I guess if Cambridge Regional College surfaced what they term Railway Avenue, which is currently a sandy muddy track … if these four things were in place, I’d have an alright route to college. Never happy, am I?