Category Archives: Traffic

Guided Busway, Cambridge

“The Guided Busway opens soon”

It almost sounds like a joke. So many times it has been announced that the guided busway would open on date X, only to be postponed. Original launch date was two and a half years ago now. But this time it seems like it will actually happen. In fact, the current launch date (7th August) is so close that there simply isn’t enough time to postpone it again. And this is great news for the villagers north of Cambridge who didn’t have any proper connection with town before and whose only option would be to drive which involves getting stuck in – and contributing to – the rush hour traffic jams that characterise the city’s infrastructure. It’s so bad that even the buses take much longer to get into town during these times.

So now when we get the new busway, that allows easy, direct access to the Science Park and almost direct access to town for a whole lot of villages north of Cambridge, we will be left with much better public transportation in Cambridge than we had when the project was started several years ago, right?

I’m afraid that I believe the answer is “no”.

Long before the guided busway was ready, Stagecoach started reducing the number of buses on the routes in the area. This was first done by reducing the departures of Citi 4, which later had its evening and Sunday routes replaced by a new “B” route and now the “B” route is all there is. And this doesn’t go anywhere on the way into town, so it is no longer possible to take a bus from Orchard Park to the Science Park or Cambridge Regional College, or anywhere along Milton Road, which was quite useful before. Another cut back happened last year, when the Citi 2 stopped going to Milton, which means there is now only one bus (the “9”) for the many elderly in Milton to get into town unless they drive (it’s the same for younger people, but I think they should be able to cycle from Milton without any problems). And as “9” doesn’t stop at Tesco in Milton they can’t use it to get their shopping home if they live in the other end of Milton (which I believe was a common thing to do). Also, there is no “9” on Sundays.

Unfortunately, there’s not as much money in the elderly seen from the Stagecoach business, because of their bus passes. So, ironically, they get a worse service even though they’re the ones who need the service the most. This is probably an inherent problem of a privatised transport sector, making it a business like any other, instead of the service it’s supposed to be.

To summarise, we’re left with fewer buses from Orchard Park, and the guided busway won’t stop inside Orchard park as the current “B” does or the old Citi 4 did as well, but instead at one or two peripheral stops. There is no connection between Orchard Park and the Science Park, even though one of the only advantages of the Orchard Park location is its short distance to a lot of work places. Also we get fewer buses to Milton and along Milton Road.

So, what can we do? Well, we can complain. I’m planning on writing a letter to the city council to explain some of the same things I’ve written here. I might wait to see if I get any comments here, so I can get more angles of the situation. We should also keep this in mind come next election, when we can try to remember that changes like these can actually make a bigger difference in our lives than increased fuel prices or whatever people normally care about. And then we remember that the power to change these things are in the hands of the politicians, it’s us who put them there, and it’s us who decide how long they stay and who they are eventually replaced by. If there’s something that’s important to us, we have to make sure it’s also important to the people we vote for.

I hope a lot of people would like to comment on this, and let me know what they think about The Guided Busway, public transportation in general and anything else that might be relevant.

Motorists and their view on the road

One thing that really amazes me, is the way motorists often talk about cyclists. It’s happened to me several times, that after telling a motorist that I don’t drive but cycle everywhere, they’ve gone on some crazed rant on how cyclists are the devil’s spawn (normally not in those exact words).

“You don’t pay road tax, and then you’re all over like you own the road” (quote – anonymous) This felt like an accusation against me personally, just after I’d told the guy that I cycle everywhere (when I don’t use public transportation).

I’d understand if he was saying something like “too many cyclists out there drive like crazy and could get themselves killed” … because I’d agree. There are quite a few cyclists who don’t seem to respect the dangers of the road. And some of them don’t just endanger themselves, but their kids as well (I’ve seen several parents (or kidnappers 😛 ) cycle across roads against the lights with a small innocent person on the back. I also say a dad cycling out in front of the traffic (there were actually cars coming that had to stop) with his 6 year old (I guess) daughter in front of him, waving a “thanks for not running her over” to the drivers and telling her “good girl” once they had crossed… no wonder a lot of cyclists don’t understand or respect the traffic rules if they grow up with that!

But that’s not his point. He’s actually complaining about cyclists “filling up the road” and “getting in his way”. This really makes me rage inside, but of course I’m just smiling politely at the old man to then go rant about it here on my blog where he’d probably never read it…

… but that’s OK. He’s a lost cause. I don’t think I’d be able to make him understand how he should be grateful for the fact that some people don’t jam his traffic with more cars. Because, even though this doesn’t seem to be a popular topic, the real problem is obviously that there are way too many cars on the road. This is why it takes longer to drive into town on a weekend or during rush hour, than it does cycling. And it doesn’t only affect drivers; it slows down public transportation as well. Often I’ve been stuck on a bus into town for up to an hour just because of the traffic (it would take at most an hour to walk into town). And the cars driving on the roads aren’t the only problem. They’re parked all over the road as well! In the area we live in most people (like ourselves) have either a garage, a carport or at least an off-road parking space. However, it seems most people have twice as many cars as flats, resulting in cars parked on all the roads in the entire development. And this doesn’t just look ugly, it’s also dangerous, both to us cyclists who can’t see other traffic as easily, but in particular to all the kids in the neighbourhood… most (if not all) of whom’s parents probably drive (two cars).

And if a driver would ever talk about this problem, they would twist it into a “there are too few parking spaces in the area” problem. Which is a popular topic, yes. Complain about the lack of parking spaces and the traffic, but don’t say they shouldn’t be driving two cars! It’s their right! … just like smokers were defending their right to kill everyone else with smoke (until the total smoking ban was passed), drivers are defending their right to kill us with cars. Is that a bit harsh? Maybe. But I don’t think there can be much doubt that if there were fewer cars on the roads, there would be fewer accidents. That just seems like simple maths/statistics 😛 … and surely that would both include drivers and cyclists and therefore benefit all… right?

… I could go on. I’d talk about how drivers (or just people) love myths like those about people being “thrown clear” and surviving an accident only because they weren’t wearing a seat belt … and how we generally just buy whatever ideas we’re told (obviously, the love of driving isn’t something we’ve made up ourselves, it’s come from above (no, not God)), and I’d probably get side tracked and start talking about politics, economics, happiness and all kinds of things… so instead I’ll stop here… should be enough ranting for today 🙂

P.S.: Blogging is really therapy, isn’t it? It’s good to get it out there, even if no one is “listening” 😛 (just like in “Sherlock”)