Tuesday, 3 February 2015

Addenbrookes Quirky Cycle Provision

Addenbrookes does make a lot more provision for people riding to the hospital than most. But it should.

Addenbrookes is a health provider, it should be seeking to help people develop a healthier lifestyle. And it's in the city in the UK with the highest cycling levels. It's already got a good user base (15 times the UK average), although there still should be a lot more cycling in Cambridge and getting people comfortable with a great healthy transport alternative should be the standard.

Old Development

So, it's a little concerning that the provision is quite piecemeal. This is mostly down to sticking plaster solutions. Doing a little bit here, doing a little bit there, adding a bit here, changing a bit there.

Here I look at a couple of places in the centre of the hospital. This piecemeal approach is clearly shown by:
  • stopping a shared-use route a few metres from the road it's going to;
  • not signing the shared-use route because it doesn't go all the way;
  • not putting enough cycle parking where it's needed;
  • sticking plaster adjustments to old, unused routing;
  • trackstand skills requirement to stick to cycle routing; and
  • inconsistent signing all within a few metres.

The central experience

Of course this is in the middle of quite a lot of development. And there's a level of juggling about within tight spaces. I'd suggest the sticking plaster approach does nothing to help this. It's time someone took a big red pen to the layer-upon-layer map and drew a clean slate. I'd bet it'd work out better for all people coming to the hospital.

New Development

Now, wouldn't it be great if the planners would learn from their earlier mistakes and plan in cycleroutes rather than fixing it in later. Yep, that'd be great, it's a shame it's not happening.

This post about Francis Crick Avenue from a little while back shows the usual approach of skimping on as much as possible. Despite having a clean slate and acres of space, cycle routes are squeezed in on roads  with drains, puddles, and rubbish. Not only that, the road is not designed to reduce speeds but encourages people driving to exceed the speed limit, thus making it really unpleasant on a bike. This seems to be a usual response to the hospitals roads. Other places realise that if you make straight roads speeding happens, if you make them twist and turn speeding doesn't. It has little overall effect on journey times, as it's simply rushing to the next junction, the real controller of average speeds.

One of the most damning indicators is on the new-ish Dame Archer Avenue which has a cycle route around the (pointless) lights (if you're on a bike*). This would seem good. But if there's space of a off road cycle route, why isn't it all the way long the road?

Again, routes from the hospital are good, but where the hospital has had control over the development the result has been very poor.

* Note that traffic lights are needed on a road to let two lines of motor traffic merge. If it were two lines of cycle traffic, would the lights be needed? No.

Thursday, 22 January 2015

Bamburgh at New Year

At the New Year I was lucky enough to share a house with friends in the north-easterly town of North Sunderland, whose coastal area is the more famous Seahouses. This is the location of the great historic rescue by Grace Darling on the Farne Islands.

During our time there we had mostly great weather, including some windy, windy days (great for beach walks) and some fantastic sun-bathed days (also windy). I found the time to take 2 bike rides taking in the sites from this part of the Northumberland Coast Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. as well as being more socialable and going on 3 lovely walks. Some of the photos and clips have captured a bit of this fantastic light.

Anyway, this is the area map, with a few details. Click here to see the map bigger.

Map includes my ride in blue, NCN1 in yellow, Bamburgh Castle, Seahouses Pier, Doddington Moor walk, and St Cuthberts Cave walk

The rides provided some stunning views. I took photos along the way as well as taking screen captures from the video footage. The clips and photos are below.

The walks on Doddington Moor and to St Cuthbert's Cave also gave some stunning views. Doddington Moor has a number of ancient Cup and Ring markings with some description here. St Cuthbert's Cave also is full of history as well as good views nearby.Visit Northumberland also says that:
It is reputed that the monks of Lindisfarne brought St. Cuthbert’s body to this place to rest for a short period in AD875 following Viking raids on the Island and the subsequent abandonment of the saxon monastery.

I've put all those photos here from those two walks, along with a windy beach walk to Bamburgh Castle and here are a few highlights (Google seems to be killing embedded pictures, sigh. Click the caption links underneath if they aren't there for you!).

St Cuthberts Cave

Doddington Moor

Seahouses Beach


The rides were fun, and the latter quite windy! I did the first one anti-clockwise and used the road along the sea between Seahouses and Bamburgh. This gave some fantastic views of Bamburgh Castle as I got nearer and nearer. It was marred a touch by too many close passes by people driving, I just didn't let that get at my enjoyment. Here are the photos from that.

The beach north of Seahouses, looking north

Distant View of the Farne Islands

Bamburgh Castle from distance

Bamburgh Castle from the edge of the village

Bamburgh Castle last distant view

Bike shadow

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle from the village green

And here are some of the stills from the video footage.

Sea view from North side of Seahouses

Bamburgh Castle distant from south

Bamburgh Castle close up

Bamburgh Castle close up

Then, I made my way inland, catching NCN1 for a little while, then back south along some very frosty lanes. This. This gave an added excitement of taking it very carefully on slippy-looking surfaces. I skidded only once as I was stopping by stupidly turning the front wheel slightly too much at 5mph and sliding for a foot until I stopped. Also, picking lines through ice puddles avoiding going on surface that might crack or large lumps of broken up ice.

Bike Shadow

Icy Puddle

Slushy puddle and shadow

Here's the ride in full. There's no need to watch it all, unless you wanty a nice relax, I've linked places of interest below.

Maximise for HD & turn the sound up or down, depending on your preference!

The first ride

00:29 Seahouses
00:44 Coastal View
01:15 Bamburgh Castle Distant View
02:44 Bamburgh Castle View
03:45 Bamburgh Castle Close View
04:15 Bamburgh Village
04:55 Sunny Inland Route
07:03 Turning South
08:44 Icy Puddle
09:35 Slight Skid
11:15 Turning Back onto NCN1
14:11 Credits

Later Ride

Later on I got to do the route again, this time clockwise. There was a ferocious south-westerly wind and I wanted to get that bit out of the way first. It was hard just going along at 8mph! In this first bit I also found a farmer doing their traditional winter work of hedge trimming. They were good to stop for me to pass, although I pretty sure I picked up a slow puncture here.

Here are some stills from the video footage.

Tractor trimming

Once turning north, the wind had changed to being directly across me, hindering me by blowing me across the road. However, there was some great shadow pictures!

Bike Shadow

I also found a car behind me at one point. This is a narrow road and there really isn't space to just pass. The driver seemed to get this, possibly because I was quite a long way out from the hedge, controlling the lane. I didn't want to hold them up as it spoils both our enjoyment. So I found a good place, checking the road surface ahead for a good 100 yards, and pulled over signalling the driver to come past. All went very well!

Signalling Driver to pass

Car passing close but planned

Car passed fine

Finally, turning back towards the coast and Bamburgh Castle and I got the benefit of the wind! The road gave fantastic long distance views of the castle as it was going directly towards it. I decided to go all the way into the village to get the castle close up once more.

Bamburgh Castle distant from East

Bamburgh Castle close up

Finally, I turned back through the village and headed for the NCN1 route south towards North Sunderland, simply to avoid the sea front road with it's rushing drivers. It's longer distance and time-wise, but quieter and less hassled.

Maximise for HD & turn the sound up or down, depending on your preference!

The last ride

00:24 Onto NCN1 going south-west
03:15 Passing a Hedge Trimming Tractor
04:10 Turning westwards off NCN1
06:30 Earlier Skid Corner, Easier Now
07:35 Earlier Icy Puddle, Easier Now
08:35 Car Passing
09:35 Turning Back Towards Coast
10:25 Bamburgh Castle from the West
11:00 Bamburgh Castle Slightly Closer
11:15 Bamburgh Village
11:30 Bamburgh Castle Close Up
11:42 Back into Bamburgh
12:05 NCN1 Route Back to North Sunderland
16:00 Credits

Wednesday, 21 January 2015

New South Cambridgeshire Cyclepaths

One of the issues of cycling in Cambridgeshire is that whilst the town is relatively (to the UK) well provided, the county is less so. Some may say "Why bother? There's not many out in the villages." without spotting that Cambridgeshire has large locations of employment where people need to commute.

One example of this is the Babraham Institute, south of Cambridge and just north of the village of Babraham. With road speeds of 60 mph on the connecting A1307, an off-road route is vital to give any people wanting to ride the confidence to do so safely.

This first clip shows travelling all the way along Hills Road from Addenbrookes to the Babraham Institute,who have been very helpful in creating this route. There's a number of old route clear up issues still to iron out, some maintenance practices that ought to be considered (gritting and hedge-cutting/clearing), and taking the route further.

This second clip is of the official opening ride, starting from Wandlebury and overlapping the first clip a bit. It also goes on to show the issues of the next bit of infrastructure, from creating a path through the Babraham Institute,which needs carful negotiation, to working with a local farm or two to improve surfaces, and to looking at a bridge which could prove expensive to update for all bike users. It also goes onto looking at the new path next to the A505, a vital link from the Granta Park, another big employment centre, into Sawston.

Huntingdon Road

This is one of the main roads in Cambridge being trialled with new protected lanes. There is broad support for this, although some concerns with local parking and where the scheme ends, dropping people in a poor cycling environment.

Whatever happens, it has to be better than the current provision. This clip shows how poor the on-road cycle provision is with the following.
  • regular abuse of the infrastructure by people driving
  • regular poor passing by people driving
  • poor infrastructure putting users in more danger

Hills Road Car vs Bike

I had a look at travelling along the outer section of Hills Road, comparing ease of movement by car and bike. The clip shows that cars are no faster average speed over the distance than a bike. Because their peak speeds need a vast amount of space, this causes congestion when they have to interact with other routes.

Many people are put off riding by the traffic around them. And yet they are helping to cause their own congestion as a result. Putting protected lanes up may counter this vicious cycle worry (less people ride, more people drive, the more cycling looks less pleasant!).

Many people are put off riding by the weather at times. At yet car commuting is doing more damage to them than awkward weather ever possibly could. And even the reason why awkward weather is seen as an issue is that it's simply not experienced. Once experienced, people find it's not as bad as they thought because their cossetted liftstyle failed to give them the right impression.

Here are a few information pictures.

Allowing the space for peak speed travel means cars take up over 10 times the space of the same person on a bike, without changing their average speed. Black =car, Red=parking space, yellow=stopping distance at 30mph.

Reducing peak speeds, reduces the space needed by people in cars, thus reducing congestion

The private car is the least efficient method of transporting people

Car Commuting isn't good for your personal wellbeing