The state and number of the bike paths in and around the villages to the west of Cambridge is poor. Currently, Madingley has no bike paths, and Dry Drayton is linked only to Bar Hill. To the south of these villages, Coton has two bike paths going into Cambridge and one to Hardwick. In the future, a bike path will be built from Bar Hill into northwest Cambridge alongside the developed A14. That is not expected until 2016.
During the preparation of the Dry Drayton Village Plan, strong support was expressed for the construction of a network of bike paths for recreational and commuting purposes. This is in strong accord with national and regional initiatives to reduce traffic and to increase exercise opportunities. The priority was for one to go through Madingley to the Coton turn on the A428 where it could link into the existing bike paths. In response, the Dry Drayton and Madingley Parish Councils set up a joint working group to promote this. This group has met a number of times and has come up with a planned route which roughly follows the existing lanes.
The planned route is off-road, so that the bike path is separated from the road by either the hedge or the verge for most of its route. The exception is through Madingley for which no easy alternatives are obvious. The bike path would be made of high quality Hoggin which is a compacted surface suitable for the type of secondary bike route proposed here. It is important to note that the current bike lane from Hardwick to Cambridge is tarmac and that the proposed route from Bar Hill to Cambridge will be as well. The working group recognises that many serious cyclists prefer tarmac routes but has concluded that the close proximity to these routes is sufficient and that this route should be a lower cost option.
Preliminary contact was made with all landowners in mid-2008, and most expressed support in principle while making clear that actual support would depend on how the planned route would affect their land. A second letter describing the proposed route was sent in early 2009, and the working group is currently awaiting their responses.
The project has also been discussed with relevant officials in Cambridgeshire County Council who have recently received a substantial award to promote bicycling in the county, including in the necklace of villages to the west of Cambridge. While the Dry Drayton/ Madingley/ Coton is not in the current list of projects, the working group feel that their relatively advanced state of planning means that this route still has a good chance of being funded. CCC have also been very helpful in providing advice about maintenance, surfaces, other sources of funding and the legal situation.
The aim of this initiative is to provide a safe, direct bicycle route linking west Cambridge to Bar Hill via Madingley and Dry Drayton within the next year or so. This route will supplement the other existing and planned bike routes once they are built. To achieve this, there are on-going discussions with the landowners and the Cambridgeshire County Council, and the working group is now in the process of contacting other local councils (particularly Bar Hill and Coton) and users with a view to proving the local support for such an initiative. A survey of existing use of the lanes by bicycles took place in March 2009. Finally a detailed budget and funding plan is being developed.