Coldham’s Common

This article was published in 2014, in Newsletter 113.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign recently responded to the city council’s consultation on Coldham’s Common.

The two-way, shared-use tarmac path over Coldham’s Common is 63″ / 1.60m narrow, though the grass is making inroads. The edges are breaking up, which makes overtaking impossible and avoiding oncoming traffic dangerous.
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This is already part of an important route for cycling, connecting north-east Cambridge and the science parks, Abbey and Fen Ditton, to the railway station and Addenbrooke’s. The Chisholm Trail, which is now part of the county council’s transport strategy, will make this an even more important link, as will the Wing development on Marshall’s land, north of Newmarket Road. The alternatives, such as Newmarket Road itself, are very hostile environments for cycling.

Location of Coldham’s Common.
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We responded in order to emphasise the importance of the paved path in particular as a through route for cycling. We noted that this use brings advantages, by raising awareness of the Common and its facilities, and increasing the sense of security that comes with a well-used space. In addition to increased safety by avoiding main roads and associated health issues of air quality, many people cycling appreciate a daily dose of green open space as an opportunity to relax and enjoy their journey, if only briefly.

Cambridge Cycling Campaign’s stall bike at Coldham’s Common. Campaigners (shown) counted four times as many cyclists as walkers during the morning rush.
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We suggested careful widening of the path to reduce conflicts between those on cycles and on foot, and to reduce the damage to adjacent grass, as has recently been suggested for Jesus Green. We would also welcome a paved track east-west across the Common to connect to and from Barnwell Road to open up a new route. More paving than this would be inappropriate, so that more natural walking routes can remain for leisure and dog-walking.

In support of our response, the Campaign undertook a couple of surveys of path users between 8.00am and 9.30am on 14 January and 21 February this year. On 14 January there were 149 cycle journeys and 33 walking journeys. On 21 February, during half term, there were 85 cycle journeys and 25 walked journeys. It was suggested that both days were unusually quiet as the Green Dragon bridge, which would connect people to the Science Park, was closed for maintenance.

Picture taken on Coldham’s Common near the railway lines during school holidays.
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The cycle network in Cambridge enables residents and visitors to reach open spaces such as Coldham’s Common without the use of motor vehicles. Appropriate improvements to this network would increase accessibility, enabling all aspects of such green areas to be enjoyed, without the pollution caused by motor vehicles.

Hester Wells