By the time you read this it may only be 250 days until the new 3,000-space cycle park at Cambridge station is open.
We’ve waited a long time for major improvements here, but on 29 January work formally started with the Undersecretary of State for Transport, Robert Goodwill MP, using a shiny spade.
Unfortunately, but probably inevitably, this start has created chaos, although I’m sure it could have been better managed. On the first or second day of the initial route changes, I encountered a lost-looking man, and he was one of the Abellio managers! He said ‘This isn’t what was planned!’ Clearly the contractors had not understood the plans. The current cycle and pedestrian routes are confusing, and I fear that the volumes of such flows are not what a contractor would expect.
Also adding confusion was the double move of the cycle parking, together with poor signposting of the changes. Not only is the new cycle park construction underway, but a start is being made on the new station square, and the new building, ‘One the Square’, which will have shops and cafes on the ground floor with office space above. Next, I expect to see the old Mott Macdonald building on the corner demolished.
I have concerns about the security of the new racks, which I told Abellio Greater Anglia about in early November. As at mid-February I can still see a few of the insecure fixings in use.
So what of the new cycle park?
When it is opened it certainly won’t look finished, as the hotel that wraps around the front will not be complete. There is a question over when exactly the cycle shop and hire will open, but I’ve been told that a full formal opening is expected in June. For those who are new to this issue, and possibly others, we never won the case for a cycle park where you could ‘just’ cycle up to the bike racks. There will be ramps up which a bike must be pushed, although these will be far less steep than some elsewhere in Cambridge (the local flats and some college facilities for example). The steeper ramp does mean more bicycle spaces in the same area, and the design is supposed to discourage cycling within the park as that is seen as a safety issue. We’ve asked again and again for a link from one of the cycle park floors to the new footbridge. The words ‘passive provision’ have been mentioned, but train operating companies are reluctant to commit to such a link because any new gates to the station would need to be staffed. Perhaps when the existing entrance has been modified, and is still congested, there will be a change of mind. We have an opportunity to apply pressure, as part of the consultation over a new franchise in this area due to start in October 2016.