Many members of the Cycling Campaign will know that there was a flurry of activity about a year ago, when initial proposals for the National Cycle Network in Cambridgeshire were being developed. Sustrans produced a report in February 1997 recommending the routes shown on the map. These have been broadly accepted by the local authorities, although there is still a lot of work to do on the details, and further consultation will be needed. As befits a working document, the report is already in need of updating, as a result of feedback and new opportunities.
The main priority over the next few years will be to undertake preparatory work so that routes can be opened as soon as possible. This means that highway works will need to be agreed with the local authorities and included in their programmes, and new routes will need to be agreed with landowners and other parties; this can take a long time. Sustrans usually works by trying to reach agreement with the relevant landowner for the construction of new paths. This may be along a disused railway or a field edge, across a new development, or in some similar location, but it is rarely simple and often time consuming. It may well be that the landowner wants to see a change to the original proposal, and they may also want compensation. Sustrans has funds to pay land and legal fees for the development of the National Cycle Network in Cambridgeshire, which need to be spent over the next two years. For this reason, volunteers have been asked to help with negotiations. Negotiators need no qualifications, but need to be tactful and persuasive. Two volunteers are already helping in the Cambridge area, but any additional offers of help would be most welcome. (Contact details are at the end, in Other organisations – contacts.)
Cambridge is an important focal point on the National Cycle Network, and four main routes are proposed from the city centre:
- Cambridge to Great Shelford via Addenbrooke’s. This is not yet agreed with landowners, but is based on the rail corridor and a route roughly following Vicar’s Brook and the Cam. This will include new paths and a number of improved road crossings. The Addenbrooke’s to City Centre route has been given high priority in the Cambridge Package Bid.
- Cambridge to Waterbeach. This route is again based on riverside and railway corridor routes, but plans have changed since the February 1997 report, to include Milton. Sustrans has now joined a grouping of interested parties seeking a new crossing of the A14 at Milton, which is beginning to look increasingly likely, even if it could still be a few years away. (See Council News – Distant Dreams article.)
- Cambridge to Histon. The February 1997 proposal was for a route along the river Cam and then along the St Ives railway to Histon. The Histon to Science Park route was given a high priority in the Cambridge Package Bid, but no agreements have been reached yet and the future of the railway is still uncertain. Further surveys have shown that for most of the way to St Ives it would be possible to construct a path along the railway boundary, leaving space for either a guided bus or the reinstatement of trains. Alternatives to the railway have also been investigated further. Within Cambridge, consideration is now also being given to the possibility of a more direct, more on-road route from the Regional College to the city centre – probably entering the city centre along Bridge Street.
- Cambridge to Lode. Work has begun on identifying landowners, with the preferred route along the river and the disused Cambridge-Burwell railway to Anglesey Abbey. Much of this is in private ownership.
- An additional route is now being discussed through Cambridge to the Eversdens and Wimpole Hall. This is a separate project, and any offers of assistance would be most welcome.
If anybody has any comments on any of the routes please contact me at Sustrans (details at the end, in Other organisations – contacts.).