The Cambridgeshire Guided Busway linking St Ives, Cambridge and Trumpington opened on 7 August 2011. There have been successes - millions of passengers on the buses, and thousands of cyclists, walkers and horse-riders on the 'access track'. But there have also been problems - flooding of the cycle track, punctuality spring to mind, accidents and bumpy track. The blog is for anyone who wants to discuss their experiences of using the guided busway.
A recent petition to the County Council raised the issue that is the almost annual closure of the Busway bridleway/maintenance track due to flooding between St Ives and Swavesey. The petition collected 244 signatures in the 3 months it was open. The petition reads:
Every year the guided busway cycle path is closed due to flooding between st ives and cambridge. This normally means having to swap from using environmental bikes to commuting by car.
There are a number improvement options to keep this commuter path open, the most basic being a small path slightly up the bank on the sections that flood for example.
Will you please consider these improvements to allow this cycleway to be a reliable option for commuters please?
The County Council response reads as follows. Note, in particular, the 3rd paragraph.
The maintenance track runs alongside the busway in this area. This is designated as a bridleway but can be closed at any time for works required on the Busway itself under the 2005 Busway Order. The track sits within flood zones varying from type 2 to type 3 (areas at significant risk of flooding). This area is designated a flood plain by the Environment Agency.
At some times of the year the flooding is severe and can reach several metres up the track bank. To institute a path wide enough for two way cyclists along the bank, without restricting the width of the existing maintenance track for maintenance and without undermining the structure of the bank could prove to be an expensive and unsatisfactory solution. To have cyclists moved closer to vehicles going 56 mph would be the opposite of what most individuals would wish to achieve.
The major infrastructure team have been asked to look at whether a solution could be found on the other side of the maintenance track, away from the Busway track itself and if this proves possible, to find sources of funding for it.
Over 30 million passenger journeys have been undertaken on the Busway since opening in 2011. The rapid transit system has achieved its goal of being a reliable option for commuters rather than to commute by car. Therefore the obvious option at present when the maintenance track is flooded is for commuters to use the buses rather than to revert to using their cars.
The petition was formally introduced to the 16 June meeting of the County Council's Highways and Transport Committee, but was not discussed.