Cycling in Cambridge

20 Jul


As part of the Cycling Embassy of Great Britain Annual General Meeting, I was privileged enough to travel down to Cambridge and take part in an organised infrastructure safari in Cambridge. Cambridge is a particularly special city when it comes to cycling as Cambridge boasts the highest cycle usage rate in the entirety of the UK with a recorded 58% of the population cycling at least once a month. This extremely high usage rate is largely because of Cambridge’s large student population who are prevented from keeping cars within the city limits and create a more progressive political atmosphere as a whole (in UK terms anyway), rather than comparatively high cycle infrastructure levels.
Edit: it has been pointed out to me that the high cycling rate is only due in part to student numbers and the figure of 58% may be exclusive of student numbers and people who use bicycles for only a short section of their journey (see this twitter conversation ). As a whole Cambridge benefits from unusually high numbers of permanent residents that cycle. For more information, visit:

To aid in reducing car use within the city Cambridge has a number of cheap car parks around the periphery of the city with regular bus services and decent cycle provision leading into the city centre.


Trumpington Park and Ride

As we were travelling by car we used the South Park and Ride centre which also happens to be the end of Cambridge’s famous guided busway. The busway consists of two wheel tracks enclosed with concrete walls, which guide the bus via two small wheels installed on the side of the busway busses.


Guided busway ‘tracks’

While the busway offers fast traffic-free travel for bus passengers into the city centre, the busway also hosts an adjacent shared-use bicycle and pedestrian path. This path provides safe and pleasant access to the city centre from the South. This is also the reason for the high numbers of bicycles locked at the Park and Ride centre, as commuters are able to drive and park at the Park and Ride and then use their city bike to cycle into their place of work within Cambridge.

However, once within the city centre the cycling infrastructure became more sporadic and of a similar quality to much of what is present in the rest of the country. Despite this it is clear that within Cambridge, cycling is clearly seen as a viable transport option with a variety of ages, abilities and genders to be seen criss-crossing the city by bicycle. IMG_8585IMG_8623IMG_8676IMG_8587.JPG

While a decent amount of infrastructure was not of the highest quality, there were patches of provision that clearly demonstrated that Cambridge is beginning to take it’s role as a cycling city seriously. Particularly along Hills Road on which a high quality Dutch-style protected cycle track is being built, complete with separation from traffic, forgiving kerbs, priority across side roads, and bus stop bypasses.


One-way cycle track separated from both pedestrians and drivers.


Sloped kerbs that don’t catch wheels and allow easy access on and off the cycle track.


Cycle track bypasses a bus stop.


Priority over side road.

In addition to the new infrastructure the dense core of Cambridge is filled with a network of quiet traffic calmed streets in which rat-running is restricted and few people drive, creating a pleasant environment to live and cycle in.

As well as this, the pedestrianised streets at the centre of the city shopping districts are open to cycling, ensuring that bicycle routes are not severed.

What really sets Cambridge apart on a UK level is that there is so much that caters to those on bicycles and a real culture of cycling abounds.


Roundabout with tight geometry which slows vehicle speeds and increases capacity



Cycling routes through parks


Cycle route signage is extremely common

All in all stepping into Cambridge gives you a glimpse of what the rest of the UK (and indeed Solihull) could look like with effort and political will. If you have never visited Cambridge I thoroughly recommend a trip and I feel that in between London and Cambridge much can be learned to help make travelling by bicycle more viable across the country.

2 Responses to “Cycling in Cambridge”

  1. Martin Lucas-Smith July 20, 2016 at 7:35 pm #

    The Hills Road and Huntingdon Road schemes are Danish-style, not Dutch. Dutch would see greater segregation.

    Also, on the point about student cycling, the census figure of 30% of journeys by bike does not include students, as it was done outside term. Vast numbers of townsfolk cycle – it’s not really down to students as the article implies, though of course they cycle also.

  2. solihullcyclist July 21, 2016 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks for the feedback, I have added a small note to the first paragraph to correct my misconception on cycling numbers. I admit that the phrase ‘Dutch-style’ was used rather loosely, more to denote a separation from both pedestrians and drivers rather than a specific infrastructure layout. I am not confident that my regular readership is that knowledgeable on the Danish reputation for cycle design, so I plan to leave it way for the time being.

    Best wishes,

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