County gives top billing to Light The Cycleway and Long Road improvement proposals

It was a pleasant surprise to come back from holiday to see that the County Council has given top billing to my proposal for lighting the Guided Bus cycleway in a report going to Cambridge councillors tomorrow night (Wednesday 5th Sept).

This year I have been leading a campaign calling for better lighting along the city stretch of the Guided Busway bridleway, following a spate of accidents.

Cyclists have been injured while riding there, and others, especially women and older people, fear for their personal safety on dark stretches of the path.

Together with Trumpington councillor Caroline Shepherd, I launched a petition asking Cambridgeshire County Council to install lighting along the cycle path in Queen Edith’s and Trumpington.

The petition was supported by many working people and had the support of trade union UNITE. It garnered 230 signatures and I presented it to Cambridgeshire County Council’s Cabinet on 22nd May. You can read an account of that here.

The cycleway is a fantastic facility for cyclists and pedestrians; it is well used, but the lack of lighting on most of the route poses a serious safety risk, especially as the days get shorter and it becomes dark both in the mornings and evenings.

Lighting this track provides an opportunity to make a good thing even better, and I am delighted that the County Council has put this project top of its list on value for money. I look forward to seeing progress.

Another scheme with very high scoring is a plan to remodel the Long Road cycleways by widening and resurfacing the existing shared us, to improve access for the thousands of people who walk or bike down Long Road en route to school or college as well as Addenbrooke’s Hospital. The case for this was eloquently presented to the South Area meeting by Hills Road resident Sam Davies.

The funding for transport schemes is to come from developer contributions as part of their planning obligations. You can see the report and a list of all the projects under consideration here.

If you would like to lobby for any of the schemes being considered, contact your local councillors.

Liberal Democrat minister launches cycle-rail toolkit

Norman Baker MP, Liberal Democrat Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, has launched a Cycle Rail Toolkit aimed at providing thousands of cyclists with easy access to rail travel.

The Toolkit, produced in partnership with the Train Operating Companies and cycling groups, will provide specific guidance to railway companies on how they should improve cycle-rail integration. It includes clear recommendations on ‘U’ shaped channels, which should run out at ground level, a key issue among cyclists at Cambridge station.

It comes after the Minister announced an extra £7 million for cycle-rail integration earlier this year, on top of the new £560 million Local Sustainable Transport Fund.

Commenting, Julian Huppert, Member of Parliament for Cambridge and Co-Chair of the Lib Dem Transport Committee, said “I am delighted that the Government is pushing forward with proper cycle-rail integration. “I’ve worked very closely with the Minister over the last few months to make the case for better investment in cycling provision. For far too long cycling has been at the bottom of the transport agenda, and investments have been, at best, ill-considered, and at worst a mere sop to us cyclists.

“It’s fantastic to finally have a Minister of State who listens to the concerns of cyclists, and is willing to push for proper investment from both the Government and the Train Operating Companies. I will now push very hard for Greater Anglia to adopt these proposals, and sort out the cycling provision at Cambridge station.”

Trying out the new cycle racks at Cambridge Station

Cycle parking at Cambridge train station has been a bone of contention amongst cyclists for many years. There are not enough spaces for the bikes available, a problem caused partly by the fact some bikes are left behind by their owners when they leave Cambridge, and never collected. Because the parking is cramped, it’s also easy for bikes to get damaged by others. Finding your bike at night if you get home late is an interesting challenge!

So it’s good news that the train operator Greater Anglia has got together with Cambridgeshire County Council to instal some new racks.

To get the best use from the space, they are double-decker, and the train company and council are looking for opinions of how easy they are to use. There are a number of different designs, and your views could inform future cycle provision at the station and further afield. To comment on the new rack, log on to www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/cycling.

I first visited on Wednesday evening. As my bike is too heavy to lift above shoulder height, I used one of the ground floor racks (Type 4) – easy to attach a D-lock to, and the bike stood up well. The higher racks were reasonably full too , so I guess they would be fine for those with longer arms and legs!

Today, there was a special event at the station – at the request of the Cambridge Cycling Campaign. I visited with Jean Swanson, and we bumped into Philip Tucker, a Lib Dem councillor in Castle Ward, who helpfully put my bike on one of the ‘upstairs’ racks.

Great to be able to park in a decent rack for once – a big improvement that’s been needed for a long time.

Seven days, three burglaries

The neighbourhood police report a crime spree in Queen Edith’s, with three domestic burglaries between 11th and 18th July. Sincere sympathies to the people affected. Burglary takes away more than just the goods stolen, and police have just set a new priority of focusing on domestic burglaries in the south of the city – see previous post on police priorities for the coming four months.

Curiously, the criminals concentrated on the streets beginning with ‘G’. Is it fanciful to think those of us in streets beginning with H should be especially vigilant this week?

I am copying the information the police have just put out on e-cops:

GLEBE ROAD/07 19:15 – 20:00     Unknown person(s) have gained entry to a multi occupancy house via an insecure front door whilst residents were in, offenders have made their way up to converted loft bedroom and thrown a wallet containing cash out of the window onto a driveway at the side of the house before exi XBOX 360 and games were taken.

Gunhild Way     18/07 12:00 – 14:30

Unknown person(s) have gained to the house via front door causing no damage. Untidy search of all rooms, jewellery and a large quantity of money taken. Rear kitchen window opened.

Bikes have been stolen too, including Blinco Grove and Hills Road. Police recommend registering on Immobilise, a national scheme which allows you to register your valuables for free (anything with a serial number).

If you wish to contact the neighbourhood policing team, ring them on the police non-emergency number, 101, or 999 for emergencies. To receive regular updates from the police, sign up for e-cops for their local newsletter covering the south of Cambridge.

If you would like to comment on police priorities, please get in touch with me or any other member of the Focus Team.

Cycling blackspots: government announces funding to fix jeopardous junctions

Personal injury lawyers Levenes published a Top Ten Cycling Blackspots for Cambridge earlier this year. Two are in Queen Ediths – see their interactive map.

The Queen Edith’s Way/Fendon Road junction near Addenbrooke’s has the second worst accident record in the city – 34 crashes between 2005 and 2010;  the Hills/Cherry Hinton Road junction had 23. Work has been done on the Hills Road bridge, but the Cherry Hinton Road turn into Hills Road is still the most unnerving manoeuvre of my daily commute. Addenbrooke’s is generally difficult on a bike – or, for that matter, on foot.

In Queen Edith’s as a whole there were 13 accidents involving cyclists that caused serious injuries.

With this in mind, I very much welcome the announcement by Lib Dem Transport Minister Norman Baker that £15 million is to be assigned to safety improvements at dangerous junctions for cyclists. It is not enough money of course – but it is a good start. There should be enough to do about 75 junctions.

Local authorities will be bidding for the fund. I would encourage you to write to the Transportation Department at Cambridgeshire County Council to support funding for the junctions that you consider dangerous, explaining why. As Cambridge MP Julian Huppert, a great cycling advocate, has said, “In order to promote cycling we have to make it safer, and that requires investment in infrastructure.”

Bring it on.

Car crime spree in Queen Edith’s

police car

E-Cops report that there have been thefts from vehicles in Queen Edith’s recently.

Cars in Topcliffe Way, Beaumont Crescent and Hills Road have been broken into. The police comment: ‘Items taken in some of these crimes include property that has been left on show inside the vehicle. Please make sure you do not make your vehicle a target, by removing property from within when you leave it and always lock and secure it. These offenders are usually just opportunists who will spot something left inside the car and that will be enough for them to gain entry and steal that item in the process causing damage to your vehicle.’ It’s so easy to forget to remove or hide something.

Bikes have also been stollen in Hills Road and there was an attempt to break into a property on Queen Edith’s Way.

The police will be at the November South Area Committee (Cherry Hinton Village Centre) to report in more detail on what is happening locally and to propose their priorities for the coming season.

If you would like to receive regular updates from our local police team and have an e-mail account, why not sign up for e-cops. Visit http://www.cambs-police.co.uk/myneighbourhood/ecops/

Bike Angel offers free cycle stands

DID YOU KNOW that approximately 2,500 bikes are stolen in Cambridge every year? So welcome to a helpful initiative to safeguard Cambridge bikes.

ParkThatBike is a social enterprise specialising in cycle parking. In their own words, they’re a ‘specialist consultancy working with UK local authorities to improve the nation’s cycle parking’. They are offering free cycle stands to local voluntary sector groups, charities, social enterprises and small businesses. Each stand holds two bikes neatly and securely.

SO: if you visit any small businesses, community groups, shops, pubs, offices, surgeries or churches and worry that your bike might disappear while you’re inside because there’s no cycle rack to attach it to, get in touch with the Bikerack Benefactors at www.parkthatbike.com, or phone 01594 for an application form.

The Cambridge offer is valid until March 2012.