Tuesday 29 November 2011

Harrison Way traffic lights

Last week there were complaints about the pedestrian phase of the lights being too slow to respond. It was reported that the the response time was 90 seconds.

Since then, the lights have been responding instantly to the press of the button by pedestrians - which is good news for pedestrians, perhaps not so good for motorists.

Last night around 9.30pm, the lights were  off completely and a group of workmen were digging up the road between the lights and the control box at the roadside.

This is a daytime photo of the lights looking out from Station Road  towards St Ives Park & Ride.

Completion of the cycleway

Despite reports in the newspapers that work on the cycleway has been completed, this is not the case. There is still one outstanding job to be done - fitting a railing to the floodwater culvert just east of the Ouse Viaduct. Meanwhile walkers and cyclists are protected by temporary barriers and warning cones.

Fixings are already in place to support the railing.

Wednesday 23 November 2011

Delays to motorists and completion of the cycle track

Four letters in this week's Hunts Post ( 23 November, page 6) about delays to motorists using Harrison Way, St Ives -  caused by the busway traffic lights.

On page 5 of the same issue is a report saying that the County Council has promised to keep the performance of the Harrison Road lights under review. They were set so that pedestrians had to wait 90 seconds when traffic was heavy compared with 30-50 seconds at 'normal' pedestrian crossings.

Next time I am walking across there I shall check the waiting time.

The same article refers to the final completion of  the busway with the raising of the cycle track to reduce flooding to an average of one month per year.

Peter Quest of the Cyclists' Touring Club says it's the best cycleway he has seen in this country.

Multihog machine

Cambridgeshire County Council has purchased a Multihog machine, a combined snow plough and brine sprayer. This will be used on the busway bridleway in the winter to deal with ice on the track. The Multihog can have a planer  or sweeper attachment added, so it can be used for other tasks throughout the year. Cost £75,000.
(Huntingdon & St Ives News & Crier, 17 November, page 8)

Monday 21 November 2011

A14 improvements

There is a two page spread in the Hunts Post (16 November, pages 20-21) about thecampaign to have the A14 upgraded between Ellington and Fen Ditton.

Jonathan Djanogly says that although the busway is proving popular, even if every car user on the A14 switched to the busway, traffic would only be reduced by 5% 'hardly a pinprick'.

However, he is suppportive of  the need for the A14 upgrade.

Busway traffic lights

Last week's Hunts Post (16 November, page 7) has printed five letters from St Ives and Fenstanton residents about delays to road traffic at the point where the busway crosses Harrison Way. Drivers say they are experiencing longer delays due to the traffic lights, and  extra traffic heading along Meadow Lane towards St Ives Park & Ride. There is criticism of pedestrians crossing Harrison way to join buses starting from the Park & Ride.

One correspondent, who travels from  St Ives to work in Papworth finds her journeys extended by 10-15 minutes. But what alternative does she have? The bus service between St Ives and Papworth is infrequent, and it too is presumably affected by the delays.

The busway has undoubtedly improved public transport along one single travel corridor - but in other directions bus services are poor or non existent so people are still faced with having to commute by car.

Then there is the St Ives road network - only 4 routes in/out town. With so many St Ives residents working outside of St Ives, is it any wonder there are traffic queues at rush hour?

There is a suggestion in response to last week's comment about delays to Olympic lorries - why not reschedule the lorry trips to avoid the rush hour?

Thursday 10 November 2011

Busway delays Olympic runs

This week's Hunts Post reveals that the busway is delaying transport of construction materials from Marshalls in St Ives to the Olympic Games site in London - 30 HGVs of materials per day, and, of course, 30 return trips empty.

Chris Annis of Marshalls claims this is due to the traffic lights where the busway crosses Harrison Way, plus cars parking in Meadow Lane. The lights are also causing delays back  to the Manchester Arms. Bob Menzies of Cambridgeshire County Council does not believe the lights are causing these delays, and says that the Council has no record of Marshalls having complained about this matter.
(Hunts Post, 9 November, page 8)

Of course, if the railway had been retained, then this material could potentially have been transported by rail.

Tuesday 8 November 2011

Peterborough to Cambridge via the guided busway?

Stagecoach has announced plans to run buses from Peterborough on the busway.  ( See link to Cambridge First below). They hope  this will provide a less expensive alternative to the train for commuters. The buses would join the busway at St Ives, presumably using the A14/A1M for the northern section of their route. Extra vehicles will have to be purchased.

But will it be viable timewise? Andy Campbell, of Stagecoach describes the train as 'going round the houses'.  This is the pot calling the kettle black. The train takes about 45-50 minutes between Peterborough and Cambridge, usually with two stops - March and Ely. The guided buses, on the other hand, go all round the Oxmoor, the Hill Rise loop, call at all the villages between St Ives  and Cambridge, then if it's a service B, trundles through Orchard Park and squeezes through the narrow and congested Magdalene Street.  

We know the  guideway buses are taking longer than they used to by the old route - so how does Stagecoach imagine it can offer a fast service from Peterborough, when they can't offer a fast service from Huntingdon?

It's 29 miles from Peterborough to St Ives. That's going to take 45-60 minutes, then add on another 36 minutes from St Ives into Cambridge, and you're talking about well over an hour. Plus there is the added complication of traffic delays on the A14 near Huntingdon.

I watch this proposal with interest.

I think they'd be better concentaring on how to provide an all day, frequent service to Cambridge from places such as Godmanchester, Houghton & Wyton, Ramsey,  Warboys, Somersham, Earith, Fenstanton and, of course, Huntingdon.

In the same article, there is a comment about the four fast journesy from Huntingdon to Cambridge that were introduced a few weeks ago. Unfortunately they haven't been well used, and Stagecoach might have to review them. There are probably two factors to this. First, most people joining the service B in Huntingdon and travelling to Cambridge, do so in the Oxmoor, rather than the town centre. Second, the fast buses are still pretty slow when you consider that Huntingdon is only about 17 miles from Cambridge. So perhaps not a very attractive proposition for commuters


This this story also appears in the Hunts Post (9 November, page 27) and the Huntingdon & St Ives News & Crier (10 November, page 31).

Friday 4 November 2011

Conflict between joggers and cyclists

The Cambridge News highights a problem which I have experienced when cycling between St Ives and Cambridge - joggers and walkers who occupy too much of the track, or weave from side to side and so make it difficult for cyclists to pass. Some pedestrians may find it difficult to understand why cyclists have to go so fast - but, speaking as a cyclist who uses the route sometimes for commuting to work, speed is important, and it is annoying when those on foot behave in a way that slows me down.


The track beside the busway is a public bridleway, which means that it's open to walkers, joggers, cyclist and people on horseback. All users have to respect each other's presence, and take care when passing other users of the track.

Thursday 3 November 2011

Guy Fawkes diversions

On 5 November Midsummer Common (Cambridge) is the scene of a huge Guy Fawkes Bonfire. Some of the nearby roads will be closed from 6.30 to 8.30 pm and this will mean that buses have to be diverted.

The A will go round by East Road and Elizabeth way, and won't be able to call at New Square. However, the notice says it won't call at Victoria Avenue - which it doesn't anyway.
I was curious to note that the diversion route doesn't simply cut straight from Elizabeth Way to Milton Road, but heads along Chesterton Lane to Staples Corner.

The B  towards St Ives will go via Hobson Street and King Street, skipping New Square. The notice  (pictured above) says it won't call at Jesus Lane either, although the map shows it passing the Jesus Lane bus stop.

The B from St Ives will reach the bus station via the Backs, Silver Street and Downing Street, and won't call at Round Church Street or New Square.

Local newspaper reports

The busway continues to  feature in the local newspapers.

Yesterday's Hunts Post ( 2 November) has a letter ( page 7) from a St Ives resident about the County Council's apparent U-turn on the busway - he reckons the Council is getting 'jittery' about its chances of winning the court case against the contractors BAM Nuttall.

On page 8 of the same issue is a piece about the new express buses between Huntingdon and Cambridge - which started running on 24 October. Hunts Post has been a bit slow in acknowledging this timetable improvement! This refers to two services in each direction (07.10 and 07.40 from Huntingdon) that skip both the Oxmoor and the Hill Rise/Ramsay Road loop. Judging by the published timetable these 'express' buses save 13 minutes eastbound but only 6 minutes westbound compared with the regular buses. Hunts Post doesn't mention the departure times in the other direction. In fact, they leave Drummer Street at 17.25 and 17.45.

While on the subject of 'express' buses, it is worth noting that the average speed, including stops and slowings for road crossings, between St Ives Bus Station and the Science Park is  only 32mph. The quickest journey time from Cambridge to St Ives via the busway (28 minutes is the fastest I've noted) can never match the quickest times via the A14 (22 minutes was common off peak in the old days).

Stagecoach have indicated  they will consider offering more express journeys if passenger demand builds.

But, let's face it, Huntingdon needs a better, faster bus link to Cambridge than even the busway can offer - 16 miles in over an hour is ridiculously slow.  Godmanchester  (population around 8000) simply needs a direct bus to Cambridge. That can only be achieved by missing out St Ives completely. An Oxmoor- Huntingdon - Godmanchester - Cambridge route via the A428 might just work.

Wednesday 2 November 2011

Art installations

You may have noted a series of small sections of brick wall appearing at the side of the busway, near St Ives Park & Ride,  in the cutting at Windmill Hill, and  near Oakington.
The bricks carry words related to the busway.

Here is the St Ives one:

Does anyone know who designed them, and who paid for them?