This article was published in 2015, in Newsletter 122.
We recently produced a new Welcome to Cycling leaflet specifically targeting students. This was created in time to use at the September and October Freshers’ Fairs and has had a good response so far. There have even been requests for a corporate version which we are now in the process of designing.
For those students and others new to Cambridge we provide the following advice.
Cycling is fast, it’s cheap, it’s good for your health and for the environment. We strongly recommend it.
If you’re going to cycle in Cambridge there are a few things to bear in mind for happy cycling and harmonious interaction with others.
Cambridge has a lot of one-way streets, and, confusingly, some you can cycle the ‘wrong’ way on a bike (contra-flow cycling) and some you can’t. Notable streets that are always one-way include outside St John’s to Caius, Sainsbury’s and the Round Church, and Market Square.
It is illegal to cycle on pavements, unless they have a shared-use symbol. Some areas are pedestrianised and cycling is not allowed, such as Petty Cury, or part-time pedestrianised, such as Fitzroy Street. Where you are allowed to cycle amongst pedestrians you should slow down, pass wide, and consider polite use of a bell. Be particularly patient with children and animals.
If you are pushing your bike you count as a pedestrian. You can use pavements and the pedestrian side of shared-use paths. Be polite to other cyclists and don’t push your bike on a cycle path, or stop in the middle of a cycle path.
Traffic lights are for cyclists too. In a couple of locations there is an ‘advance green’ for bikes, where a green bike symbol lets people cycling move off before other traffic. This gives you a chance to clear junctions before motor vehicles, and especially avoid a left-hook: a vehicle turning left across you while you cycle straight ahead. Advance green lights are on Hills Road and Castle Street.
Light up your life and your bike. A legal requirement during hours of darkness: white at the front and red at the back (never the other way around!). The police regularly crack down on cycling without lights, so make sure you have them.
Check whether your college or university offers discounted or free bike lights. Do not leave lights on your bike unattended: worse than having your lights nicked is having them nicked and then getting a fine for it.
Hi-viz and helmets are not a legal requirement. The efficacy of either as a safety measure is contested. If you feel safer wearing them, go ahead. If you’d rather not, you don’t have to.
Keep your bike safe -and out of the way. Cycle theft is a common crime in Cambridge, and an unlocked bike won’t stay in the same place for long. Always lock the frame of the bike to a solid object: if locked through a wheel only you might find that the wheel is still there when you come back, but the rest of the bike is gone! If you can lock the wheels as well, even better. Invest in a decent lock, preferably a Gold Standard D-lock. The others are too easy for thieves to break through.
Do not park your bike in a way that obstructs pedestrians: leave enough room for a wheelchair or baby-buggy to pass. If you can’t, find somewhere else to park.
Record key information about your bike so that if it is stolen you will have a chance of getting it back. A good idea is to save the frame number and photos of your bike as a contact in your phone.
It’s never too late to learn. If you’d like to feel more confident on your bike consider getting some cycle training. This will cover all the rules of the road, as well as positioning yourself on the road for best visibility and clear intentions.
Get involved -make a difference and develop skills
If you think more city centre streets should be two-way for cycling, or there is nowhere to park your bike at your destination, or you feel some of the roads you use aren’t safe enough for cycling, join Cambridge Cycling Campaign for as little as £3.50 a year.
As a member you support us to campaign for better cycle infrastructure so that there are safe and convenient routes for people of all ages to use by bike. There are also opportunities to become a volunteer. If you would like to shape policy and campaign for improvements for cycling in the areas you care about, join at www.camcycle.org.uk/membership/join/
For more information visit www.camcycle.org.uk/resources/ or email firstname.lastname@example.org