This article was published in 2002, in Newsletter 42.

Milton village comments

As a regular user of the route through Milton from Cottenham to the Science Park, I have seen the gradual deterioration of the red tarmac in Cambridge Road.

It is not just the red tarmac that is deteriorating. The white lines marking the northbound cycle lane are wearing out as well. The main reason for this is plain to see: vehicles are weaving in and out of the cycle lane or straddling it as they avoid speeding traffic approaching from the opposite direction. Many of these ‘cycle lane drivers’ are themselves speeding too.

It is noticeable that there are no centre markings along Cambridge Road. Vehicles parked in the cycle lane are also a common hazard. I have experienced a number of near misses from passing vehicles, including a bus, whilst cycling northbound in the ‘safe’ cycle lane.

The road narrows approaching the pedestrian crossing outside the shops in the High Street and here, the cycle lane ends just where it is needed most! There is not enough room on the crossing for two vehicles and a cyclist to pass, but that does not stop drivers attempting to overtake cyclists at that point.

For cycling to be safer in Cambridge Road, speed-reducing measures need to be implemented.

Stuart Robbins, Cottenham

Convenient bike lights

In Newsletter 41 Nicholas Coni bemoans the ‘startup/shutdown’ overhead of cycling clothing, helmet, lights, (un)locking etc., especially in winter. He has a point of course, but I think he is making things harder for himself than necessary, and don’t forget that you never have to scrape the ice off the front of your bike for 10 minutes before setting off.

Lights are probably the biggest annoyance. The best way to solve this is simply to eschew the strange modern idea that to avoid theft you should make things really easy to steal and always carry them around with you. Simply fix your lights and battery securely and permanently to the bike and preferably make them look as odd and undesirable as possible (gaffer tape is very handy in this regard). My partner’s lights have been attached for some four years now with no problems, even though these are very ordinary Ever Ready double ‘D’ cell lights in the usual clips. Having lights built in to the vehicle, just like your car, is a major improvement to your cycling life. Top them up once every week or three with a charger in the bike shed. Unfortunately most manufacturers tend to prefer easy-steal lights for some reason look for fittings that can be bolted, taped or tie-wrapped permanently in place, and separate battery packs. Making your own is best, but commercial kit can also be pressed into service.

I get round the helmet problem by simply not using one, being of the opinion that they are too much faff and entirely unnecessary if not plunging down steep stony hills.

Image as described adjacent
Waterproofs live permanently in the pannier.

Having waterproofs that live permanently in your pannier finishes off the ensemble leaving you only with the locking/unlocking part, which in fact I don’t do at home or at work, so only have to worry about when going into town. Your mileage will vary on this one it depends where you leave your bike whether this particular optimisation makes sense for you.

Yes, some of these things mean you might occasionally suffer inconvenience such as theft or damage, but you have to weigh this against the significant convenience saving on hundreds if not thousands of occasions of bike use. I certainly would never go back to carrying easy-steal lights around for example.

I agree with Mr Coni that switching to GMT in winter is a stupid idea that should be scrapped, by the way, but permanent lights is a much more general solution to this particular problem.


Fulbourn Old Drift

If the railway crossing at Fulbourn is closed there is a danger that a safe, pleasant and quiet route will be destroyed. I enjoy cycling and walking from Cherry Hinton, on the path beside the railway, over Yarrow Road, along Fulbourn Old Drift and on to Fulbourn, using the existing crossing over the cycle track. I do not want to cycle anywhere near to a hypermarket car park.

Diana FitzGerald

The completely traffic-free new path runs alongside Tesco’s car park on its own land, not through it. More news.