Gilbert Road finally has its new and improved cycle lanes. They’re 1.7m wide in each direction, and parking has been banned therein due to the presence of double yellow lines. This should make for an improvement for cyclists using that road, and it is fair and right that those who have long campaigned for this should declare their victory.
Here is a link showing what it used to look like, and discussing the agreed changes:
And here’s one just showing how much fun it didn’t used to be to ride on:
And here is how much fun it is now:
I should point out that this campaign has taken a decade, during which time fierce nimbyism from people living on an expensive road with massive private driveways down most of it have eventually had to accept that they don’t get a third, fourth or fifth free parking space on the road for free. The fact that there was already a cycle lane there (and you’re advised by the highway code not to park in one of those) was neither here nor there. That lane was worse than useless.
So well done Cambridge Cycling Campaign. Really. You have achieved your goal.
I just don’t think it’s the right goal. This is yet another marginal improvement for cyclists; yes, its wider, but it isn’t wide enough. Yes, you’ve got rid of parking there in theory, but you’ve left us with an advisory lane that is free for motorists to enter in to and to be a nuisance in. You’ve given us something that’s a bit better than we had, but which isn’t good enough.
This is the most cycled city in the UK, yet even on a busy road that serves multiple schools as well as being a major route for cycling in to the city, that has ample space for a fully segregated wide cycle lane without depriving motorists of a single lane, a route that would really encourage people to feel safe, that could demonstrate that cyclists aren’t just welcomed but really valued, even here what we’ve got is a cycle lane that barely does better than the naffest ones specified by the Department of Transport. Is that it? Is that all we get? All that campaigning from organised teams of motivated and determined cyclists? All that time and effort, and we get to this?
The problem really is very simple. The minimum standard we should require for cycle infrastructure is higher than is obtainable in the best cycling cities in the UK. What we want as a starting point is better than the most useful we can get from local authorities. This IS a victory, but not a tactical one. This sets a standard for the best new facilities we can expect to get into and out of the Cambridge, and while its better than we’ve had, its not good enough. Its not nearly good enough.
When cooperative campaigning fails, whats left? If we’ve got cycling campaign groups who view this kind of thing as a success, if they’re looking at what can be achieved without upsetting people too much, if they’re always willing to accept such compromises, perhaps we need to consider NOT being cooperative. Maybe we need to consider NOT avoiding upsetting people. Perhaps we need to make a nuisance of ourselves. When the best on offer isn’t up to the minimal standards we should accept, what purpose is compromise? After all these years of such campaigning we now have to accept the simple premis; conventional cycle campaigning bodies have failed. Well done Cambridge Cycling Campaign, I wish you all the best in your future endeavours. I just don’t get why you think you’re really getting somewhere.