A10 Corridor Cycling: campaigning works

This article was published in 2014, in Newsletter 115.

The A10 corridor between Cambridge and Royston has seen a phenomenal level of activity around cycling improvements since a campaign was established in January 2013. Up until then, upon exiting Cambridge southward on a bicycle, one entered a world set back in cycling time: nothing at all had been done to the A10 for more years than anyone could remember, and even how to initiate discussion on ideas such as cycle space in village high streets, or safe links between rural villages on 60mph stretches of road, was a mystery. The odd Minor Highways Improvement Grant bid led nowhere.

At Cambridgeshire County Council, resources had perhaps understandably been concentrated on population centres – city and market towns – and the accidental (but excellent) cycle path that is the maintenance track along the Busway. The council had published a series of cycling maps for Cambridge, St Neots, the Saffron Walden route and Central Cambridgeshire, but the area directly south of the city had not been mapped for publication. An in-house aspirational map of safe cycling routes to link up the southern villages was tantalising.

Successful campaigning for improvements to rail services south of Cambridge had proved relatively straightforward, using the natural focal point of companies that run trains and maintain infrastructure. Very quickly through rail campaigning, a recurring theme emerged around helping cyclists to access rail, and indeed linking up sustainable transport options.

Meanwhile the success of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign in raising the profile, and gaining political commitment for much needed improvements to cycling infrastructure, provided a foundation of experience and advice. With the support of Patrick Joyce, Jim Chisholm and Rohan Wilson, who scouted out the A10 corridor between Cambridge and Royston and produced verdicts and advice on best and worst areas for cycling, an invitation to test the waters for improvements to cycling on the A10 between Cambridge and Royston drew a packed house one mid-winter evening. Cyclists came to the meeting in Meldreth from Royston, Grantchester, Harston, Heydon, Melbourn, Shepreth, Barrington, and elsewhere, the most forceful voices belonging to those who were commuting between Royston and the villages for work, out of economic necessity: ‘I have to cycle and I want to stay alive’.

A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign

The new A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign discovered instantly the meaning of ‘suppressed demand’ and validated the 2011 census results for levels of cycling to work on the A10. Within three months the campaign tapped successfully into the Department for Transport Cycling Ambition Grant, and by the first anniversary of the campaign’s launch a one-kilometre long, 2.5 metre-wide stretch of off-road cycle path had been created between Shepreth and Foxton – thanks to the County Council’s bid to the Cycling Ambition Grant for ‘Cycle Links to Foxton Station,’ which fulfilled the requirement of joined-up sustainable transport links.

The Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire Transport Strategy has provided a framework for thinking strategically about the A10 corridor. The A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign recognises that the most effective way to attract funding is to look at the corridor as a whole and then at achievable sub-sections within it. This includes natural sections with concentrated areas of employment and training, and short-distance commuting: Harston-Cambridge, Foxton-Harston, Mebourn-Shepreth, Barrington-Shepreth, and so on. The focus currently is on a safe cycle link between Melbourn and Royston: a one-mile stretch between Melbourn and the A505 roundabout, linking Royston Industrial centre, Melbourn Science Park and many other business areas on both ends. This will require an off- road cycle path within Cambridgeshire, and a pedestrian and cycle bridge over the A505 in Hertfordshire, and so an integral component of the campaign has been to forge a relationship with Hertfordshire County Council and the Sustrans Hertfordshire area team. The Melbourn-Royston link falls within the Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Local Enterprise Zone and therefore a joined-up approach is possible. A number of irons are now in the fire and by our next meeting on 15 October we hope to have a fairly detailed idea of how the pieces of the puzzle may fit together.

The appearance of new cycle paths and the prospect of more has not been universally welcomed – people rightfully wonder why potholes on adjacent roads and pavements have yet to be filled – but these have certainly generated new discussion on the merits and potential benefits of cycling. Today, it would not be out of place to discuss cycle space on village high streets or safe links between villages, and indeed those conversations are underway.

We would be delighted to have new members join our campaign – membership is free, so please get in touch at contacta10cycle@gmail.com and ask to join the mailing list. We meet quarterly in rotating locations – all posted on our website, A10corridorcycle.com.

Susan van de Ven
Chairman, A10 Corridor Cycling Campaign