This article was published in 2007, in Newsletter 70.
Decision time for city centre cycling
As we report on page 4, the city centre cycling ban is finally going to be decided one way or the other. In fact, the decision may already have been made by the time you read this. In a city like Cambridge, with such a high proportion of people cycling, disallowing cycling in the city centre is unreasonable and gives out entirely the wrong message. The experimental suspension of the ban seems to have worked, and we now have backing from Cambridge’s MP for it too.
The dilemma of sub-standard cycling provision
Our city (and indeed much of the UK) is littered with sub-standard cycling facilities, some of which do more harm than good. An example is the pair of cycle lanes on Trumpington Road, beside the Botanic Garden, where the cycle lanes next to the parked cars encourage cyclists to ride in the part of the road where they should not be riding, namely in the ‘door zone’ – the place where car doors are carelessly opened into the path of cyclists.
We have been meaning for some while now to launch a petition to have these cycle lanes removed, or preferably for the car parking (which is the ultimate source of the danger) to be taken away from at least one side of the road. It would be far better to have no cycle lanes here, resulting in drivers taking more care by not assuming that the cycle lane provides the space cyclists need, than for the lanes to exist at all. Look out for our petition soon.
More generally, the Campaign is often put in a difficult position over whether to oppose sub-standard provision. We know from our membership survey, and from cyclists in general, that there are a wide variety of views on this. Should we, for instance, have opposed more strongly than we did the Coldham’s Lane cycle bridge? We might have waited another ten years for the main bridge itself to be replaced (which is the correct solution), meaning ten years of less experienced cyclists struggling with the existing dangerous bridge. Or has the new bridge, which is very inconvenient for cyclists wishing to carry on towards Cherry Hinton, resulted in difficulties for those who choose to remain on the road, to which they are entitled? In these days of limited finance available to local authorities, hard decisions have to be made. Views please.
For a more light-hearted look on sub-standard provision, in this issue we feature some of the cycle ‘facilities’ highlighted by Warrington Cycle Campaign in their ‘facility of the month’ feature. Take a look on page 10 and see the sort of nonsense cyclists have to put up with at times. You can add your own examples of poor facilities to the photo-map on our website.
Lots of new guidance
New guidance from Cycling England and the Manual for Streets (in our next issue), are two important new sets of guidance being issued to improve the lot of walkers and cyclists, and society more generally. They are of particular relevance to Cambridge, around which some 50 000 new houses will be built in the coming decade, potentially having a huge effect on the rates of cycling. Expect to hear a lot more on the Manual for Streets in particular, soon.
A new direction for Romsey?
The introduction of a car club for Romsey, as we report on page 9, would, in our view, be an important step to civilising the area towards one which is designed for people rather than vehicles. Cycle parking and two-way cycling are still much needed in the area, as is the removal of pavement parking which is so completely unacceptable for those walking. But the car club proposals will finally enable the councils to be able to reduce the amount of private car parking available, freeing up space for better uses. On that, they will have our strong support.
Martin Lucas-Smith, Co-ordinator