At a North Area Committee discussion about ‘Arbury Park’ in about 2007 I asked for a path off the roundabout at the A14 Histon interchange to Ring Fort Road. At the time this was rejected with the argument: ‘we don’t know if people want to go there’ (towards Histon and Impington). However, when the first residents moved into what was then known as ‘Arbury Park , they were assigned to the GP surgery in Histon, many children attend schools in the village and quite a few residents work north of the A14. While people in the eastern part of Arbury Park, all now known as Orchard Park, can use the maintenance track alongside the Guided Busway, those living in the western part of the development used to climb three barriers and the embankment.
Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s Orchard Park subgroup started a petition for the Ring Fort Path in early 2011 and over 400 local residents signed it. Orchard Park community council and Impington parish council supported the scheme and the Orchard Park council removed parts of two fences to reduce the risk of injury for those using the shortcut. In 2012 we launched a postcard campaign at the Orchard Park summer fair to invite locals and those at our AGM to write to the council to explain why building this path was important to them.
County Councillor Ian Bates (Cabinet Member for Growth and Planning) informed us in early December that our proposal for a shared-use path would be put forward to Cabinet. On 18 December 2012 Cambridgeshire County Council Cabinet approved spending £350,000 as part of Section 106 funding from developers to build the shortcut, dubbed Ring Fort Path, between Orchard Park and the A14 junction at Impington.
This route will not only be very useful to Orchard Park residents, it may also lead to residents from Histon, Impington, and other outlying villages stopping by the new shop in Orchard Park on their bike ride home. With the new path the Riverside bridge – Union Road – Arbury Road – Chariot Way – Ring Fort Road Ring Fort Path – Bridge Road (Impington) route gets as close to the desire line as possible. Although the route through the sports area past the skate park in Orchard Park is not the optimal route for cyclists, it will provide natural surveillance and reduce vandalism in this currently hidden corner by the A14 roundabout. While repairs and maintenance are funded by the taxpayer and come from a distinct pot of money from S106 developer funds, it is good to see that a new path improving conditions for active travel will also save money by reducing the need for maintenance and repair.
County Council investment programme
Ring Fort Path was announced by the county council as part of a £2 million allocation of Section 106 funding including:
- lighting on the Guided Busway cycleway, from the railway station to the Trumpington Park & Ride site and at Orchard Park, King’s Hedges, Milton Rd and East Chesterton
- feasibility study into installation of a bridge over the railway line to link the Leisure Park with railway station
- improvements to Long Road cycleways
- re-siting of the two Brooklands Avenue bus stops away from grass
- improvements to the shared-use path for cyclists and pedestrians
- radial route signing extended to include other major routes such as Babraham Road, Queen Edith’s Way, Mowbray Road and Fendon Road
- improvements to Cherry Hinton High Street to improve safety for cyclists and pedestrians
- feasibility study into improving Hauxton Road Bridge
- refreshing cycle path and cycle lane markings around the Perne Road/Cherry Hinton Road roundabout and improvements at this roundabout to address traffic flow and safety issues
- contraflow cycling signage following audit to identify need
- Tenison Road traffic-calming scheme
- removal of unnecessary street signage
- extend footways and reduce road width at the Station Road/High Street Histon junction to improve traffic flow and increase safety
- review and improve existing traffic-calming measures on Arbury Road, near King’s Hedges Road
- review bus delays and parking on Cambridge Road and New Road, Impington
- shared-use pedestrian/cycleway between Milton and Landbeach
- safety improvements to cycle lanes on the Gilbert Road/Milton Road junction.
List taken from the county council’s press release at http://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/CMSWebsite/Apps/News/Details.aspx?ref=806
It seems that the incremental improvements we achieve are just not enough to cope with the increase in population and the need to get more people to choose active travel. Members will need to be alert to ensure that this investment leads to well-designed infrastructure where cyclists will feel safe.