Thursday, 23 September 2010

Bicycles as Advertising Hoardings

Want to get close to this map?  Think again
Cambridge City Council has a published policy on Illegal Advertising but is seemingly reluctant to enforce its own rules.  Aside from fly-posting which is commonplace (and about which the Council claims to have zero tolerance) there are now numerous bikes placed across the city centre which act as fixed advertising hoardings.

Many of these bikes are not in a road-worthy condition and have been parked so as to gain the retailer maximum exposure - regardless of the needs of those who need to use the pavement.  Bike polite, anyone?

Cycle advertisement fly-parking is taking place on some of the busiest shopping streets in the city often utilising railings, signposts or other street furniture.  Here they impede the space for pedestrians, prams, wheelchairs etc, contribute to a more cluttered street-scape and are liable to give all cyclists a bad name. 

With its stylish blue chain and sprayed white tyres this cafe owner won't be cycling anywhere soon, but he / she has certainly upped the ante on current Cambridge bicycle advertising.  And they've had the decency to park against a proper bike rack.  But do we really want this form of unauthorised advertising around our city streets?  Mr T thinks not.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Opening of the Reach Lode Bridge

One of the most enjoyable bike rides out of Cambridge is to the fine fenland city of Ely.  Famed for its cathedral, it has some decent pubs and restaurants along the riverside and also boasts an excellent bookshop.  Since there are good rail connections between the two cities, leisure riders can cycle to Ely, spend a good part of the day there and then take the train back in the evening.  With yesterday's opening of the bridge over Reach Lode and the associated cycleway, much more of this journey can now be undertaken on quiet lanes and off-road cycle tracks.

To mark this event, on Sunday Sustrans organised a bike ride from Ely to the opening event at Reach Lode.  Ca. 50 riders gathered outside the front of the cathedral and after a short safety talk departed at 11:15.  Cyclists from different organisations, age ranges and degrees of lycraness took part and there was a fair amount of good-natured bantering and discussion as we made our way out of Ely towards Wicken Fen.

The weather was delightful, allowing us to enjoy the famously large Fenland sky and spot wildlife such as cormorants and roe deer.  From Wicken Fen we were cycling along the Lodes Way - a 14km route designed to provide clear access for cyclists and walkers south to the village of Bottisham and passing close to Anglesea Abbey.  This route has been largely funded by Sustrans using funds it received from the Lottery Fund in 2007.

At Reach Lode we met other cyclists and walkers who had started out from places including Cambridge, Wicken Fen and Anglesea Abbey.  Altogether there were about 200 of us.  After speeches on behalf of the National Trust and Sustrans, the official opening ceremony was conducted by representatives from the nearby communities of Burwell, Lode, Reach and Wicken. 

After the opening most folk stayed around for a picnic and staff from the National Trust were on hand to explain their plans for managing Burwell Fen.  Some parts of this Fen are two metres below sea level and the impending construction of a clay bund will facilitate the establishment of wet grassland habitats.

The Reach Lode bridge is a genuine boon for walkers, horse-riders and cyclists from Cambridge, Ely and adjoining villages.  What's needed now is a proper cycle / bridleway link from Waterbeach to the Lode Way. Mr T has it on good authority that the National Trust are trying to achieve just such a link and are in communication with a currently reticent landowner.

Friday, 10 September 2010

New On-Street Parking from Cycle Cambridge

Magnifying glass, anyone?

In March 2010 the Cycle Cambridge Team at Cambridgeshire County Council announced plans for " City Cycle Parking Improvements ".  Although Cycle Cambridge claim on their webpage to have been "consulting" about the changes, it is not clear how, or with whom, the consultation exercise was conducted.  Formal orders from the Area Manager Traffic City and South Cambridgeshire dated 5th March 2010 (concerning the planned introduction of new "pedal cycle parking places") were displayed near to where the cycle racks were to be introduced.  However, the notices were so nondescript, and set in such a small font, that few members of the public will have paid them much attention.

As shown on the notice, new cycle racks are being introduced at 11 on-street locations across the city - something Cycle Cambridge claims will "ensure footpaths are kept clear for pedestrians as bikes will not need to park on street furniture".

So let's take a look at what's being introduced.  Here are the figures:

              Location                    Cycle Parking Length               Est. No. New Cycle Stands
          Brookside (E)                            19.5m                                            13
          Free School Lane                       9.0m                                               6
          Gwydir Street                            3.5m                                                2
          Harvey Road (N)                         8.5m                                               6
          Harvey Road (S)                         2.5m                                               2
          King Street                                8.5m                                               6
          Mawson Road                            8.5m                                               6
          Pound Hill                                  8.0m                                               6
          St Phillips Road (N)                    5.0m                                               3
          St Phillips Road (S)                  10.5m                                                7
          Trumpington Street                     7.5m                                                5

          Total                                                                                               62

That's right, a measly 120 or so extra on-street places for cyclists to park.  This should be seen in the context of Cambridge having being awarded National Cycling Town status in 2008, not to mention £3.6 million to be spent on cycling improvements in the city and surrounding villages.  Given that there are well over 10,000 cyclists in Cambridge and that some 300 bicycles a month are stolen, this new provision from Cycle Cambridge is meagre in the extreme.  Sadly, it would appear that Cycle Cambridge lacks the will and / or ambition to provide Cambridge with the level of cycling facilities commensurate with being a National Cycling Town.
New on-street cycle parking on King Street

Although only recently installed, the new cycle stands on King Street are already being regularly used and at peak times cyclists are forced to find alternative places to park which is often still against walls and street furniture. 

It is now possible for the public to make suggestions as to where extra cycle parking
could be provided in Cambridge via the website Cycling Sorted, which is run by Cycle Cambridge.  We can but hope that there is a strong response from the public and that Cycle Cambridge in future is minded to propose much more radical proposals to County Council transport bosses.