A record of my cycling trips in Britain and abroad


Loaded like a freight train

Because ‘loaded like a guided bus’ doesn’t sound quite the same…

A brief interlude this week - this isn’t part of my three peaks trip, but just a comment on one of my favourite rides around Cambridge. The_current_busway.jpgAs anyone living in Cambridge has probably heard, there are plans afoot for a guided busway system in Cambridge. I say ‘plans afoot’; the busway has been ‘under construction’ for longer than the Sagrada Familia, and was originally supposed to open a couple of years ago. It has, in fact, been essentially finished for the last couple of years, but there is some sort of contract dispute between the council and the contractor I believe. I think in essence, the contractor hasn’t finished the work to the satisfaction of the council, and won’t hand The_current_busway2.jpgit over until they are paid, but accourding to the council it isn’t finished yet, possibly because it floods too frequently, so they haven’t paid the final installment. This is mostly based on hearsay and what I’ve read in local papers, and may be entirely wrong. Anyway, the upshot of it is, we’ve had a brilliant cycle track, 12 miles long, with no traffic whatsover on it, for the last couple of years! Which I like. A lot. Some people I’ve suggested it to like it, some have hated it - it is true that you need to keep your eyes on the track, because you have about a foot width to cycle on, with a kerb on one side and deep gravel (with concrete sleepers every so often) on the other, but I think it’s certainly worth it. And lots of people seem to use it for commuting into Cambridge from Oakington and St Ives; I quite like the way a sort of informal highway code has sprung up entirely of its own accord among the people using it regularly, too.

A_random_factory.jpgI recommend it, if you’re in Cambridge and fancy a ride - it’s a really nice route, a short section takes you through the industrial underbelly of Cambridge - such as it is - and the rest is a nice ride with views alternating between tree-flanked sections and wide open fields. It can be rather windy though.

The_old_path.jpgWhy am I writing about this now? Well, I went out yesterday evening for a spin on my fixie, partly just for a nice evening ride, and partly to sort out my handlebar height and reach (after breaking the stem, but that’s another story). I decided to head out along the busway; well, work is underway on it; I’ve been hearing rumours, too, that the contract dispute has finally been settled. Does this mean that we are going to lose the best, longest, smoothest (not to mention entirely traffic-free) cycle path for miles around? It looks like it, if buses start using it. I was worried about the loss of the busway surface to buses, because the official cycle path was a horrible gravel track that would have been a struggle to get a hybrid down,The_new_path.jpg and utterly impassable for a road bike. But I could hardly believe my eyes when I saw what work was actually taking place yesterday - the cycle path is being surfaced! with tarmac! Does this mean that we will have a nice, tarmac, traffic-free surface from Cambridge to St Ives, permanently? It looks like it! Although it won’t be quite as nice once buses start using the bus lane, but at least they’ll be sufficiently far away that evena a typical Cambridge bus driver will struggle to run over any cyclists. And it won’t mean having to ride looking forwards the whole time.Riding_the_busway.jpg