Of all the controversial things to happen in Harston over the past few years - the closure of its pubs, rural raves and the prospect of a Tesco among them - nothing has divided opinion like the new A10 cycle path. Formerly a rough-and-narrow pavement, barely wide enough to allow two pedestrians to pass, some think that it's a vital amenity, enabling people to cycle safely through the village and encouraging more onto their bikes; others think it's a huge waste of money, citing the cyclists who still choose the road over the path, holding up traffic and putting themselves in danger. And then there's the undeniable safety issues from having to narrow a major road carrying more then 16,000 vehicles on an average weekday - many hundreds of which are huge HGVs, and some of whose drivers have scant regard for the speed limit.
Love it or hate it, the cycle path - or "shared-use footway" as it is officially called - is here to stay. It's a community amenity and we have to share it as such, taking everyone's needs and ability into consideration. That's why it's upsetting to hear reports of not only thoughtless, but downright dangerous behaviour on the path, both from cyclists and drivers:
It may be that we need more clarity on the rights-of-way for users of the path, which includes the owners of homes and businesses who need to cross it:
In response to questions of its suitability as a shared path, Stuart Rushby, who managed the implementation of the path for Cambridgeshire County Council, said the following:
Some painted markings encouraging cyclists to slow down have appeared over recent weeks, but it's clear that more needs to be done to highlight the issues. We will apply pressure to local Councillors to improve signage and seek guidance - if it exists - on who has priority when vehicles need to cross the path.
Above all, simple common sense and decency will go a long way to sorting these problems out. If it's busy on the path - especially with children, or anyone whose movements may be erratic - be patient and slow down. If you want to pass someone, alert them first - either with a bell or a friendly word. But if you see poor cycling, or driving, please gently challenge it and point out why it is problematic; or report really serious incidents to the police.