(This article is by the BHDDMADcycle group.)
How safe do you feel cycling in to Cambridge from the villages to the north-west? Owing to increasing traffic on village roads and also the pressure on the A14, cyclists are finding themselves reduced to narrower and narrower stretches of increasingly dangerous road.
In response to this the parish councils of Bar Hill, Dry Drayton, Madingley and Coton joined forces to develop a cycle path to provide safer cycling for all. The aim is to connect the existing cycle path between Bar Hill and Dry Drayton with the A1303 crossroads and Cambridge.
A survey in March 2009 showed extensive use of the road between Madingley and the A1303, with on average 1,500 cars, 46 lorries, 126 vans, 12 buses and 24 motorbikes passing along it on a typical weekday. In addition, 106 bicycles go by. Interviews with cyclists as well as local residents and employees show the high demand for a bike route. A number of accidents, including fatal ones, have taken place on this stretch of road in the last few years. The rationale and the demand for a bike route are strong. A recent petition has strengthened this opinion and added impetus to the project.
The bike group has had discussions with many local groups including Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Cambridge City Council, and all the relevant landowners. The University of Cambridge has kindly said that a permissive pathway can be put on its land between Dry Drayton and Madingley. And Trinity College has similarly agreed that the permissive path can go along the edge of its fields between Madingley and the A1303. These are significant and generous gestures.
The cycle path is important to protect the many cyclists who commute into Cambridge and the surrounding areas and also to promote safer, greener cycling in the area. There are two outstanding issues which remain to be solved. First, financial support is needed to build the paths. Second, there is a unique opportunity to link these two paths to the planned North West Cambridge development. The bike group is working hard to ensure that an additional permissive bike path can be put across Trinity College’s land to link to the University’s development. This would enable existing and new inhabitants of North West Cambridge to access the surrounding countryside and villages, including the attractions of the American Cemetery, Cambridge University’s 800th anniversary wood and Madingley Hall. It would also enable better access into Cambridge from several villages in South Cambridgeshire which currently have no safe, off-road cycle paths.
The aim of the initiative is to provide a safe, direct bicycle route linking north-west Cambridge to Bar Hill via Madingley and Dry Drayton by the end of 2014. This route will supplement the other existing bike routes as well as those proposed as part of the A14 development. For more information please visit www.bhddmadcycle.com
According to the 2011 census, Bar Hill has lower rates of cycle commuting than the South Cambridgeshire average. It has lower rates even than other towns and villages further from Cambridge. The need for a high-quality cycle route separated from traffic connecting up the nearby villages and on to Cambridge is clear. Changes to the A14 also offer the opportunity to improve links, and another route will be explored in the next newsletter.
Cambridge Cycling Campaign will be discussing the options with the bike group in order to maximise the chances of getting a really good quality route linking these villages.