Building a city where everyone can cycle

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Which areas of the city are difficult to navigate with non-standard cycles? Our group of cycling families from north Cambridge begin a list of areas that need improvement.

City centre

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  1. The right turn from Regent Street into Downing Street (at the corner of John Lewis) is unsafe. The bike path at the turning is too narrow, segregated by a little raised platform on the road. The only option is to turn straight into oncoming traffic.
  2. Street furniture segregating the contraflow cycle path on Tennis Court Road leaves insufficient width for family cycles, forcing them into oncoming traffic.
  3. Roundabouts on the intersections between Trumpington Road, Trumpington Street and Lensfield Road are nervewracking because the road is narrow and cars often squeeze space for cycles – especially those which are particularly wide. There is the same problem at the other end of Lensfield Road, leading to the busy traffic light interchange by the Roman Catholic church.
  4. Crossing Maids Causeway into Fair Street is difficult for everybody when it gets busy, and it is especially cumbersome for larger cycles. There isn’t enough space at the crossing allocated to bikes, meaning that they simply block the pavement.
  5. The underpass beneath the roundabout which joins Elizabeth Way, Newmarket Road, East Road and Maids Causeway is very difficult with larger bikes. The chicanes involve considerable manoeuvring and prevent mounted ascents for all but the strongest and most agile (even with electric assistance, cargo bikes need a sufficient run up to climb).

Crossing the river

Approaching any of the river bridges involves gathering significant momentum to get over them when riding a cargo bike (even with electric assistance, these bikes are heavy with children on board!). This is only straightforward if you are coming in the right direction; if you come from the other direction then you have to double back quite a long way in order to get enough of a run up.

  1. Fort St George Bridge is too steep to ride with children (without e-assistance) when leaving town. Its cobbles (at the bottom, city side) are also lethal for heavy bikes when wet and slippery.
  2. Cutter Ferry Bridge involves a ‘U’ turn at its south end. This is very difficult with a cargo bike, trike or trailer: it involves multiple manoeuvres including reversing on the downward slope.

Both of these bridges are narrower than they should be and increasingly popular; the use of family-adapted cycles puts evenmore pressure on the space.

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  1. With the distance needed for a run up to Green Dragon Bridge’s south side (below), it’s impossible to see if other cyclists are descending and need to pass before you can begin.

Chesterton

  1. Oak Tree Avenue and Pearl Close are connected by an alleyway which is very difficult when riding or pushing a bike with a trailer.
  2. The roundabout connecting Chesterton Road with Elizabeth Way feels dangerous when cycling with children. It’s always busy and there are only cursory cycleway markings.
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  3. Bramblefields nature reserve links a residential area with its local school, childrens’ centre and doctors’ surgery. It has a chicane at the Pippin Drive entrance (below) which is impassable on cargo bikes, trikes or a bike with double trailer.
  4. Access to the river path from Fen Road needs widening to allow cargo bikes, trikes and bikes with large trailers to get through and therefore avoid Fen Road.
  5. The new cycleway along part of Fen Road (towards Water Street) is often blocked by cars parked on the pavement near the riverside car park.
  6. There is a cut-through connecting Anglers Way with Cam Causeway to the north and Bourne Road to the west. Its entryways are blocked by bollards which are passable by bike but it needs dropped kerbs for heavy bikes to make it a useful alternative to the road.
  7. Kinross Road and Pakenham Close are joined by a cut-through which avoids the dangers of Union Lane but it’s difficult to navigate with a family-adapted bike.

Arbury and Kings Hedges

  1. Arbury Road and Union Lane are separated by a very busy road junction which is particularly unfriendly to cyclists. The two approaches are too narrow for all the vehicles which use them; bikes are squeezed onto the pavement if they want to join the Milton Road cycle path but there aren’t smooth dropped kerbs and it isn’t safe. When crossing the road, many cyclists choose to cross on the pedestrian lights to avoid mixing with motor traffic. This is safer but not supported by the current layout; the upcoming Milton Road scheme will fix this.
  2. The Milton Road end of Arbury Road is dangerous when riding an adapted cycle or accompanying children on their own bikes. The road is dangerously busy with no cycling provision and goods vehicles are often parked on the pavements around the shops in order to unload.

Kings Hedges

  1. There is a barrier between the Nuns Way park and Arden Road which is very tricky to wriggle through with a wide or long bike. With a family-adapted bike, it’s impossible to use the park’s exit to Lavender Road.
  2. The cut-through between Beales Way and the garages at St Kilda Avenue is difficult to manoeuvre through.

Girton

  1. Girton Road has limited space to cycle safely with small children. The cycle lane is painted on the road only at the last section. The road is the main route out of Girton, so is very congested at peak times. At school drop-off time, there are lots of families cycling on it; this number has increased since the University of Cambridge Primary School opened in Eddington. Cargo bikes are often unable to cycle freely here until they reach the painted cycle lane.