Notes from the Green Party Candidate for South Norfolk, for General Election 2015. Longer reflections and discussions on issues relating to policy, the good life, justice, equality, anti-austerity economics and the future of the planet. This is also a forum for exchanging ideas on how to tread lightly on the planet and avoid supporting exploitation and corrupt practices. Here we go...

Thursday, 26 March 2009

Things calculated to annoy a cyclist

Every road on the main cycle routes across Cambridge has been dug up this winter. In particular, the routes to get from East of the city, or North East, into the city, or to the Sidgwick site, or to the station, or to Trumpington Street/Silver Street, or to the University Library, or to anywhere any civilised person wants to go... all of them have been dug up, all at the same time.

When they dig up the road they make a large hole. Then they park their digger next to the hole. Then they park their portable toilet next to the digger, or on the other side, next to the hole. Then they fence the entire thing round, enclosing any remaining space between their hole and the pavement. Then they put up a big notice saying that the road is closed (or, in this case, a sign saying go to the left of this blockage, as though there were still a way past). The fact that it was the only cycle route for you to get to work or to the station is, of course, not their concern. While I was taking this photograph (which is a picture of the ten minute route from here to the station, in this case through Kingston Street) sixteen cyclists came by, and every one of them had to dismount (luggage, children and all) hump up onto the pavement, walk past, hump down again, climb on again, etc.
Why did they still do that? Because the next nearest way round, involving dropping down to Gwydir Street and going round by St Barnabas road instead of Devonshire road, is about twice as long and involves three sets of traffic lights, making this a twenty minute journey instead of a ten minute one.
I didn't think to get any pictures of the similar works on King Street, which were helpfully timed to be at the same time as yet another set of (still ongoing) works on Jesus Lane, so that both of the two main arteries into Cambridge for cyclists from the East were closed at the same time. It's true that Jesus Lane is not wholly closed... but it has traffic lights, which are extremely slow and add a great deal to the journey time. What is more, whereas at an earlier stage it was possible to by pass the problem on Jesus Lane by going round by King Street, now they have gratuitously moved the Jesus Lane traffic light back like this:
This is the view of it where you come out from Malcolm Street onto Jesus Lane opposite Wesley House. This used not to have a traffic light, so you could turn left at will providing no traffic were coming from the right, and you could turn right into Malcolm Street from Jesus Lane even if the traffic light, which was a bit to the right of this junction, were red. Not so now. As you can see the traffic light here is quite isolated from the road works: the works are way down the road to the right. Why stop the traffic here? Just to make life difficult for the cyclists, to prevent them from avoiding the problem by way of King Street and Malcolm Street...
Which way would you go if you couldn't do Jesus Lane and Trinity Street, or King Street and ... (well where do you go from there? It's a designated cycle route, but then you're not allowed to go through Sussex Street, for some incomprehensible reason, and the police, just to aggravate everyone further, have been having a campaign to stop the poor cyclists from going through Sussex Street, which was their last resort... but just how are you supposed to get to Green Street, which is also a designated cycle route? and just how are you supposed to get from Midsummer common to King's)
Anyway, suppose you decide instead to go by way of Emmanuel Road and Downing Street. Now, this is what greets you:
In this case they have closed not only the left side of the road (we're looking East here) but also the contra-flow bike lane on the right. They know we won't like it, and that it is a crucial cycle route, so they specially put up a notice telling us we must dismount. I realise I haven't got a picture of the offensive blockade that they've put up at the Trumpington street entrance to this route.

What exactly is the city's policy with regard to encouraging cycling? I ask in genuine bemusement.
By the way, I've never seen anyone digging in these places. You'd have thought that they could at least arrange their digger and their toilet booth in a long line while they're off duty, so that the whole blockage was made long and narrow, with room for cyclists to pass on one side. Wouldn't you?
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