I have read with interest your Newsletter item ‘CAST.IRON or concrete?’ and have forwarded a detailed response to the Campaign.
In summary, I would like you all to know that CAST.IRON most certainly is not too late. The only serious opposition we face are 30 Cambridgeshire County Councillors out of 58. There is a crucial vote in December; we believe up to five of the 30 would vote against the guided bus if a rail option was on the table. Now it is.
Cambridge City, South Cambridgeshire District and Huntingdonshire District Councils are broadly opposed to the guided bus, as is Anne Campbell MP. This opposition is based on the overriding principle that we should not destroy a potential link in the national rail network.
MPs James Paice and Jonathan Djanogly favour rail if it can be shown to be viable. Andrew Lansley MP has asked to be kept informed of our case against the guided bus.
Liberal Democrat County Councillor Alex Reid has created a pro-rail website, www.cambrail.com, on which you will find a petition calling on the County Council to look again at rail.
From your point of view, you should be aware that there is no guarantee that a parallel cycle lane can be provided. As I understand it, the guideways for the buses will be subject to a Transport and Works Act Order application, but the service road will be subject to ‘normal’ planning permission.
The Council have told us that the service road will be for cycles, pedestrians and horses, i.e. a ‘free’ benefit of this roadway, which is required to rescue failed buses. They have also told us that for safety reasons, particularly with regard to the horses, there will have to be a fence or hedge between the service road and the guideway. So how does the service vehicle get to the failed bus? And is the service road blocked during such operations?
Each guideway is 2.6 m wide, with a 0.1 m gap between. This is already much wider than a railway formation, even before the service road goes in.
However, the bigger picture is that for cyclists as a whole, the rail option provides much, much more; namely, the potential to take your cycle to anywhere on the national network. It is not common practice to have cycleways parallel to railways but most rail operators provide cycle accommodation and CAST.IRON guarantees to maximise such accommodation. However fit you all are, St Ives to Cambridge is a pretty long cycle ride!
Our Stage 1 proposals include staffed stations and road crossings, meaning that cycle parking is supervised.
Finally, here’s an interesting statistic, courtesy the County Council. The guided bus is predicted to remove 4% (as in one twenty-fifth) of traffic from the A14. Why so low? Because, of course, it can only remove journeys that finish up in Cambridge. It will do nothing to remove any regional or through car journeys, nor a single lorry.
Please visit our website and join us, or write for copies of our leaflet and application form. We would be thrilled if your campaign would also join us as a non-corporate member and agree to be part of the Coalition of Anti-Guided Bus Organisations, which we are in the process of forming.
Tim Phillips, Chairman, The Cambridge And St. Ives Railway Organisation
I cycle daily from Cottenham to Cambridge along the Histon Road, Gilbert Road, Milton Road, Mitcham’s Corner and onwards. Whilst the new arrangements at Mitcham’s Corner are different, and a bit of an improvement, there are bad spots. The approach from Milton Road has no provision for cyclists to stop at the crossing without obstructing following cyclists or pedestrians waiting at the crossing. If you don’t take the crossing and risk your lot with the motorist there is no provision to navigate round to Victoria Avenue.
Likewise on the approach from Victoria Avenue there is no facility to get off the designated cycle lane to a safe place to stop and cross at the crossing.
Misguidedly, I have taken to sloping off onto the pavement in order to stop without obstructing following cyclists or waiting pedestrians at the crossing. Bad move and probably illegal. In the wet weather of last Friday week I took the curb too obliquely and fell heavily on the pavement.
Still suffering and feeling rather foolish – but what to do about these puzzling half provisions for cyclists. Was there anyone on the planning group who actually rides a bike round Mitcham’s Corner? We shouldn’t get second best.
I am told that Cambridgeshire County Council is dealing with some of the issues Lizzie raised. Ed.