This article was published in 2008, in Newsletter 81.
Working at home, my daily commute consists of moving from my bedroom to my office, usually via bathroom and kitchen – but I do travel fairly often to London and elsewhere, so the route from Newnham Croft to Cambridge station is well used by me. Sometimes (particularly on foot), I’ll go across Coe Fen, where the bridge approaches were rebuilt a year ago and hugely improved (yes, there are now signs reading ‘Cyclists Dismount’ but virtually everyone takes the pragmatic view that the best things to do is to get across fairly quickly unless of course there are pedestrians to give way to).
If I go this way I’ll turn left onto Trumpington Road and then almost at once right onto Bateman Street, to rejoin my usual cycling route, described below, but if and when the Station Area redevelopment proceeds it may be easier to cross the New Bit (where the cycle path is due to be widened – see next article) to Brooklands Avenue and the new crossing of Hills Road just north of the bridge (by Network Rail’s signalling centre) for the direct bus/bike link to the station. In fact it’s already possible to cut through the new Triangle development to Station Road.
However at present it’s slightly faster to take the shared-use path diagonally across Lammas Land from the Grantchester Street/Barton Road junction as far as the toucan crossing over Fen Causeway. Here many people would choose to stay on the south side of the ring road and use the shared-use footway past the Leys School to the pelican crossing from Trumpington Road to Brookside; however I find it easier to cross here, accepting the thirty-second delay (at most times of day) for the lights to change, and ride along the footway on the north side past Cambridge University Engineering Department. This is far smoother where it crosses access roads, and you don’t have to squeeze past people waiting at a bus-stop; by the Royal Cambridge Hotel, or perhaps earlier, I’ll filter right onto the short stretch of marked cycle lane approaching the roundabout, and take the right-turn lane to head south on Trumpington Road. Almost at once I swing left (signalling clearly so that larger vehicles don’t feel the need to get past before the squeeze at the crossing) on to the foot/cycle bridge over Hobson’s Conduit – the drop-kerb here has been nicely set up to allow a fairly smooth and speedy exit from the road, rather than requiring braking and a right-angle turn.
Crossing Brookside onto Pemberton Terrace, I soon turn right into St Eligius Street, a fairly narrow one-way street that I have suggested from time to time should be signed as a cycle route to the station, but the council seems to prefer to direct cyclists to use the Hills Road cycle lanes, even though the crossing to reach the southbound lane is more difficult. At the bottom I turn left onto the Bateman Street cycle lane, which soon becomes a contraflow, and is often blocked by builders’ vans and deliveries. The state of the paving at the Hills Road end is a disgrace, which the County Council seems not to know how to fix, although they always say they’re working on a plan. Turning right onto Hills Road can require a little patience but it’s not really very hard – southbound traffic is often slowing for the Station Road traffic lights, quite a few northbound vehicles are turning into Bateman Street (look out for their signals), and if all else fails there’s a [pelican] crossing immediately south – but usually a pedestrian will press the button before you’re forced to walk the bike over and do it yourself.
From here it’s a left fork onto Station Road, now much smoother than it was, and straight across the roundabout in front of the station – continue slightly further than is immediately obvious and you’ll find enough of a dropped kerb to let you ride across the taxi way virtually to the station door. I believe there is sometimes cycle parking available at the station, but I usually take my bike with me to London.
Returning homewards, I head up Station Road to the lights, turn right on Hills Road and left on Bateman Street, and continue past St Eligius Street to Brookside, which is one-way northwards. Back at Pemberton Terrace, I take the bridge across the brook and, depending on traffic levels, either turn left on Trumpington Road and swing right around the island, or press the button to use the crossing, although I’ll probably only need to use the first half. Turning left at the roundabout, I’ll stay on the road past the Leys School and turn onto the shared-use footway only at the crossing of NCN (Sustrans) route 11, which gives the smoothest exit and avoids the raised kerbs at the various school entrances. Then it’s back across Lammas Land and onto Grantchester Street for home.