Cycling in Cambridge, UK

This web page was originally written in 2005. A lot has happened for us since that time. We emigrated to the Netherlands so now live in the country which has the highest modal share for cycling in the whole world. After we'd lived here for four years and I had the benefit of a wider world view than one gets from inside the city, we again visited Cambridge again and found... that nothing had changed. I've written an article called The Truth about Cambridge.

Now on with the original page:

Cambridge has a higher rate of cycling than any other city within the UK. 28% of commuters cycle in Cambridge, and that's the percentage given by the RAC - a driver's organisation. Cambridge is still one of the best places within the UK for cyclists to live, but...

Sadly, despite the high rate of cycling, very little is spent to make cyclists' lives easier. In fact, according to Cambridgeshire County Council's Local Transport Plan, just 60p out of every £100 spent on transport within Cambridgeshire is shared between cyclists, pedestrians, safer routes to school and the unknown "other" category. The vast bulk of the money, 77% of it, is spent on roads. This primarily means improving roads for motorists. 22% is spent on public transport.

We're still not doing what we need to do to be a modern city which supports cycling. We still have politicians who have no awareness or interest in the issues of transport. In fact, our current MP, David Howarth, has never raised the issues involved in the houses of parliament. There is a video here which shows what is happening in cities which have the political will around Europe and even in Bogota:

The model for the world should be the Netherlands, which has a higher rate of cycling than anywhere else in the world. Their success has been achieved quietly, without hype, and by increasing the subjective safety of people on bikes. This is what works.

Recent developments in Cambridge, such as The Quills and Arbury Park show very little concern for cyclists.

Our new developments have caused lots of problems. They are almost a demonstration of how not to do things. There is typically very little understanding of how to rpovide for cyclists, and the roads concerned are being made considerably less attractive for cycling as a result of the money spent on "improving" the roads for driving.

Kings Hedges - the area where they got it mostly right in Cambridge back in the 1970s, but to which developers have now turned their backs.

Other "interesting" road features in Cambridge.

Cycle parking in Cambridge.

By way of contrast, some examples of rather good paths in the Netherlands. Due to the excellent infrastructure making it a pleasant thing to do, cycling is as common in the entire Netherlands as we manage just in the very centre of Cambridge.

We organize cycling infrastructure study tours for people who have an interest in how the Netherlands achieved its world leading level of cycling.

Cambridge is soon to have a Guided Bus system. I hope this works as well as the very efficient one already in Eindhoven, but it's already obvious that the cycle paths alongside will not be to nearly the same quality.

The main organisation fighting for Cyclists' rights in Cambridge is the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

A very interesting report called Driver's Perceptions of Cyclists was made by the Transport Research Laboratory based on considerable research. A lot of errant driver behaviour is explained, though not excused, by it.
Parts for all types of Dutch bicycles