What has Camcycle done for us?

This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 147.

Members and supporters wish us a happy anniversary and look back over a few highlights

Unlocked More Freedom for Me and My Family

Margaret Winchcomb

When I arrived in Cambridge, almost 25 years ago, I was just out of school, feeling free and ready to explore the world. I brought with me the bike I had been given on my 14th birthday and it took me, every day, across the middle of Parker’s Piece and then on cycleways and quiet roads through town, out to the West Cambridge site.

On graduating I commuted out to work in Fulbourn and got a new bike, to brave the route to work. Over the next 15 years I moved around the city, but continued to work in Fulbourn, and had the opportunity to benefit from a number of upgrades to cycleways: for example, the journey from Barnwell on Route 51, with its solar-powered lights, included Newmarket Road and Teversham Road. When travelling from Cherry Hinton, the upgrade of the tarmacked path alongside the railway line meant the end of trying to avoid the muddy potholes of Fulbourn Old Drift and the level crossing. I distinctly remember being really excited when the cycle lanes were painted onto Coldhams Lane. I felt they meant that there was now space for me and I could sail past the waiting traffic instead of dodging it or having to wait in fumes.

More recently we have had children and even before our first was born we sold one of our two cars and bought a cargo bike. With the ‘big’ bike came freedom to visit town (and borrow a pushchair from one of the two cycle parks), to travel up the Busway to St Ives (whilst getting a suntan), and to attend toddler groups across the city (without worrying about finding or paying for car parking spaces). Most importantly, for us, it made cycling ‘the norm’ for our children. They are now competent cyclists themselves and are enjoying their own freedom on two wheels. And the ‘big’ bike is still going strong, carrying the shopping for us, whilst also giving us an opportunity for exercise in this season of coronavirus lockdown.

Opened up Essential Shortcuts

Rachel Beale

I’m sure there are many changes to cycling that have made a difference to my life, but the one that leaps immediately to mind is the removal of various ‘pram handle’ controls to alleyways across the city. When my third child was born, we’d recently moved house and the easiest route from there to just about anywhere was through an alleyway with pram handles (see example, left) installed. It was an active deterrent to me cycling: while the baby was too small to go on the bike, I couldn’t get through with the trailer, and going around was an approximately 500m detour, which as a sleep-deprived person was a big psychological hurdle. Sounds like such a tiny thing, but it made such a big difference!

Started a Brilliant Bike Ride!

Connie Cotton (age 10)

Reach Ride is one of my favourite times of the year: you get the long (24 mile) bike ride when you can chat with your friends, and then you get the brilliant fair where you can go on all sorts of rides from scary, haunted house to huge, frantic ferris wheels. I’ve going to miss it so much because I love the long, enjoyable bike ride and also, at the end of the bike ride, you get a reward (the fair) – as well is that it’s the only time I get to go to a fair!! Though it takes a lot of energy and effort, I still love every moment of it because 1. it’s one way I keep fit and 2. I get to hang out with my family friends – last year I did Reach Ride with three of my friends. Just because of lockdown doesn’t mean you have to stop biking; as long as you stay away from other people, keep calm and carry on. Keep biking!

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2000: It may only seem minor, but I think one of our achievements which pleases me most is the provision of cattle grids on the commons. Do you remember the ‘pram arms’ and gates we once had to contend with? All but one set of these are now gone, making the commons so much more accessible by bike.

David Earl, Issue 100

It never ceases to amaze me how much time and energy a few dedicated people spend, for absolutely no reward and very little thanks or recognition, trying to improve things for the many.

Paul Robison, Issue 100

The greatest and most exciting scheme which promises to make cycling safer, and more direct and enjoyable is the Chisholm Trail.

This promises an underpass beneath Newmarket Road and a bridge across the Cam, connecting the main station to the new Cambridge North station and all the desire lines between. When it is complete it will be possible to cycle from Shelford to St Ives while hardly touching a road. What an achievement.

Lisa Woodburn, Issue 142

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1995 – Weekly stall in the marketplace: the Campaign stall shares advice, gathers information about local cycling issues and asks people to sign a petition with the text ‘We, who presently drive cars into Cambridge, would happily cycle instead, were adequate, safe, and convenient cycle routes provided’.
1998: Motor traffic restrictions are added to Bridge Street to provide more space for pedestrians, buses and cyclists. It’s the first part of the city centre Core Traffic Scheme and our petition and postcard campaign were influential in persuading county councillors to approve the scheme.
2017: Local Highway Improvement barrier campaign
1998: Clifton Road/Rustat Road cut-through achieved
2006: Camcycle campaigns often focus on accessibility for cycles. Sheep’s Green bridge used to involve wheeling cycles in a channel while walking up steps until cycle-friendly ramps were finally added.
2011: Busway cycleway opens
2006: DNA path to Shelford opens
2019: Protected lanes on Green End Road
2007: First ride to Reach Fair
2018: Launch of the Cambridge Festival of Cycling
2005: Campaigners celebrating the lifting of the city centre cycling ban. The ban was one of the catalysts for the organisation’s formation.