First up, out of town on St Andrew's Street. I pass two Police Officers (maybe PCSOs) who are enforcing the Lights Instead of Tickets (LIT) scheme. I wholeheartedly approve of this scheme, but I do object to the amount of time spent on this. Let me say why.
Diagonally across Parker's Piece. I wanted to see the demonstration lights, but they have been vandalised. It's really dark across here and pedestrians walk in black invisibility cloaks but I respect that as a faster vehicle, its my responsibility to look out for them. Interestingly society has arrived at the opposite conclusion on the road - to allow us to travel faster.
Then I start my journey outbound on Mill Road. This is approximately 7pm on a Wednesday night. A few weeks ago I heard my village Officer tell us that either side of the rush hour is the most likely time to catch speeders as gaps start to appear in traffic flows.
Mill Road has a very poor collision record and as such has a 20mph zone. You can see the collisions mapped on CycleStreets and Cambridge CC's websites. Allmost all of those dots are car-bicycle accidents.
Twenty is how fast I cycle, but I find a taxi very close behind with an aggressive sounding engine threatening to pass. I am cycling in the left wheel track - trained cyclists will recognise as one of two advised road positions - and it is holding the taxi back whilst there is oncoming traffic. The taxi passes with hard acceleration a little too close for my liking and easily exceeding the 20mph speed limit. Other young adults are cycling nearer the gutter and I watch as taxi squeezes between them and the white line with oncoming traffic. This YouTube video demonstrates how close cars come when squeezing through and the risks taken.
Of course, I caught the taxi up again. Plenty of risk to others, but nothing gained.
I am not one to rely on anecdotal examples, but this happens a second, and a third time, with all three driving aggressively and in a bullying way.
I didn't notice any pavement cyclists, but I did see cyclists without lights on the road. It is very well lit by streetlights and everybody is easy to see if you look properly. There are plenty of unlit pedestrians crossing this busy road and you have to look out for them anyway. Cyclists are not any harder to spot under these streetlights.
After my errand I return inbound. I am overtaken by a car which accelerates aggressively up to, I estimate, 35mph. Then braked very sharply. A car was sitting stationary in the middle of the road, looking like it had pulled out from a side road. A female cyclist 40yrs old (with lights and helmet) was looking at her back wheel like the car had collided with it. I don't know who was at fault, but did hear the cyclist asking if the driver was ok. They must have been in shock.
Continuing along Mill Road, a van pulled out of a side road in front of me and I had to emergency stop. They had seen me - I know, they were looking into my eyes - this was a SMIDGAF, (Sorry Mate I Don't Give a Fuck). It's a variation on the SMIDSY (I Didn't See You). Again a taxi. All of the taxis were Panther Taxis.
This was a scary ride for me. I am a very experienced cyclist, motorcyclist and driver. I would not ride this route regularly at this time, it is too risky.
It is plainly obvious when cycling down Mill Road what the causes of accidents are - aggressive driving and failing to look properly. The story could be said to be anecdotal and unrepresentative, but my statistical analysis (summary) agrees and shows the extent of this problem.
The council and councillors are aware of the problem. It's on their map, and a 20mph zone has been implemented. Now it's time for Cambridgeshire Police to step up and play their part. While they are sending 30 officers to target low level anti-social cycling, Mill Road traffic goes unpoliced and the casualty numbers continue to rise.
Ignoring this problem has gone on for too long. Cambridge has 32% of people cycling to work the highest rate in the country and needs new ideas and leadership from the highest levels in Cambs Police. Doing nothing is shameful.