Hardwick Cycling Campaign

This article was published in 2000, in Newsletter 31.

Hardwick is a village on the outskirts of Cambridge about five miles west of the city centre. It may surprise you that few of the residents feel confident enough to make that journey to Cambridge on their bikes. One reason given is the danger of sharing the roads with fast moving traffic, especially HGVs. This concern is particularly applicable to the stretch of the A1303 between Madingley roundabout and the M11 junction. Madingley Hill was made much more hazardous for cyclists a few years ago when it was widened slightly and the lanes narrowed in order to provide an additional uphill lane.

Members of Hardwick Cycling Campaign

‘…well in excess
of the 60 mph
speed limit’

Another area of concern is St Neots Road in Hardwick itself. Historically, this road was the main route to Bedford and St Neots, but when the bypass was built the speed limit was not revised. Since that time, many more houses have been built in Hardwick and the population has increased substantially. St Neots Road has been downgraded to a ‘C’ class road but, being 8 m wide, dead straight, and completely clear of parked vehicles, some drivers appear to use it as a drag strip. We must be one of the last villages in Cambridge to have such a dangerously high speed limit on such a minor residential road. A survey carried out by the police at the end of last year revealed that approximately one in six vehicles using this road were travelling well in excess of the 60 mph speed limit.

However, things may soon change. As part of Cambridgeshire County Council’s policy of reducing the speed limits in villages to either 30 mph or 40 mph, the speed limit on St Neots Road is going to be reduced to 40 mph. The police have commented that, without other traffic calming measures, this will have little effect, and so the council has proposed the addition of mandatory cycle lanes. This will reduce the width of road available to motorised traffic and may encourage motorists to slow down. Unfortunately, the cycle lanes will be rather narrow, possibly only 1.0 m wide (rather than the recommended 1.5 m) and I feel that cyclists using them will be rather too close to the passing traffic. But it’s a move in the right direction.

Many vulnerable cyclists, for example, school children and newspaper deliverers, already use the footpath beside the road, and narrow cycle lanes, where the speed limit will still be relatively high, are unlikely to cater for their needs. It would make sense, therefore, to make the existing footpath shared-use.

Other traffic calming measures may be added and we hope the HCC will be consulted about these in due course.

The other major news is that, partly as a result of our campaigning, the Hardwick-Coton Cycleway is going to be added to the county’s works programme and is likely to be built in 2002-3 (at least that is what we have been told). Consultation should take place during the next 6-12 months. Judging by the debate that this issue has already caused within the HCC, we are in for a busy time!

Paul McMahon

Sorry, Hardwick Cycling Campaign. Newsletter 30 quoted text from County Council minutes. Unfortunately, this text misrepresented their petition. What we should have said is that HCC wishes ‘to address the safety issues of cycling from Hardwick by pressing for improved cycle provision, such as a cycle lane, reduced speed limits or a dedicated cycle path.’