Bromham - Parish of Cyclists?
Bromham has one of the lowest number of residents that travel to work in Bedford Borough using a bicycle. Around 3.2% cycle (2011 census) compared with around 4.5% for the Borough as a whole, although 36% of residents work less than 5km from their homes. With this low number there is scope for many more people to consider this mode of transport. Why is cycling currently so low in the village?
One of the reasons people cite for not utility cycling is that there is no secure place to leave a bicycle at a destination. This is certainly true for Bromham. There are very few public cycle stands to allow bicycles to be securely left at its various facilities and this has to be remedied if local cycling is to increase.
Bromham also has very little off-road cycle infrastructure in the village with only one dedicated off-road cycle route on the north side of Northampton Road from Chestnut Avenue to Budgens store entrance in Stagsden Road. A lot of people may be put off using the busy roads; Village Road to and from the villages along the Great Ouse valley, Stagsden Road to and from the A422 and A428, Box End Road and Bromham Road (and Bromham Bridge) to and from Great Denham, Biddenham, Kempston and Bedford.
There are no dedicated signalled crossings within Bromham although there are Zebra crossings on Stagsden Road at Quenby Way and Berry Drive and on Village Road outside Bromham Primary School entrance which cyclists can use to walk across. There are also some crossing points with central reservations to allow crossing of one carriageway at a time in Northampton Road and Stagsden Road.
Cycle Parking Stands
There are secure cycle stands in the village at:
Budgens store in Stagsden Road - four 'Sheffield' type stands for eight bicycles
Library in Springfield Drive - two 'Sheffield' type stands for four bicycles
Village Hall in Village Road - five 'Sheffield' type stands for ten bicycles
Primary School - 31 bicycle storage spaces/racks
Bromham Mill has three vertical wooden posts with slots and hooks just inside the entrance but are not strictly 'Fit for Purpose'. This type will not allow wheels and frame to be secured and is liable to damage a wheel if knocked.
There are currently no stands at the other local shops.
It is suggested that Bromham Parish Council and a local Borough Councillor are contacted if one is required in a public area.
As part of planning applications, all new dwellings (houses and flats) as well as all public facilities, businesses, etc have to incorporate a specific number of cycle parking stands as one of the conditions of the application's approval.
It should be easy to cycle safely around the village using the quiet estate roads, the off-road track and various alleyways to visit the shops, village hall, schools, churches, library and other facilities.
CCNB recommends that in the future the area between Northampton Road, Stagsden Road and Village Road should be subjected to a 20mph speed limit to improve not only the safety of cyclists but the quality of life for all residents, particularly the young and elderly. See the CCNB webpage on 20mph speed Limits.
(2) Bromham Bridge
A perceived safety hazard in cycling to Bedford is crossing the River Great Ouse using the narrow Bromham Bridge. This need not be the case. A cyclist has as much right on a road as a motorist and as such should cycle across confidently keeping up to one metre from the side of the bridge to avoid being pinched by vehicles trying to pass at the same as another is approaching.
In 2008 the old Bedfordshire County Council proposed closing partially or totally the bridge to motor traffic. To gather data the road was closed to traffic in one direction (eastwards) for a number of weeks and then totally closed for a similar period of time. The results showed that during these two periods the number of people walking and cycling across the bridge doubled and tripled respectively suggesting that improving the safety of cyclists and walkers crossing the bridge would open up a latent demand for people wanting to commute to work and school by bicycle. Sadly although the County Council supported the principle of closing the Bridge to eastbound traffic on the basis of the trials, the new Bedford Unitary Council declined to give it approval. The potential closure in one direction and the creation of a dual use cycle/ pedestrian on one carriageway is still one of the longer term campaigning aims of CCNB.
Once across Bromham Bridge (see 2) there is an off-road route alongside Bromham Road all the way to the railway bridge at the approach to Bedford. (The A4280/A6 link road at the Gold Lane roundabout is crossed using an underpass - although at quieter times of the day it may also be easily crossed 'at grade' using the central reservation - and the new entrance to the North of Bromham Road development by a toucan).
Confident cyclists can continue along Bromham Road, over the railway bridge and the double mini-roundabout, taking a right turn into Ashburnham Road for the railway station or continuing along the on-road cycle lanes to the town centre area.
At the present time it is illegal to cycle cross the railway bridge off-road. As for Bromham Bridge (see 2) CCNB recommends if using the carriageway to cycle up to one metre away from the kerb when crossing the railway bridge to avoid being pinched by overtaking vehicles. CCNB is strongly campaigning for the off-road cyle track to be extended across the bridge and an underpass built from Spencer Road to the station car park when the bridge is rebuilt over the next two years for the electification of the Londom Mainline north of Bedford. This section of the route is heavily used by pupils cycling to/from the Biddenham schools.
For less confident cyclists, a slightly longer route to the town and riverside area can be taken by crossing onto the south side of Bromham Road using the toucan crossing just after Biddenham Turn and taking the signed quiet on-road route to The Slipe and the Riverside to the town centre.
A longer alternative route after crossing the new link road is to cross Bromham Road immediately east of the roundabout into Gold Lane and continue to Great Denham via Manor Road and Carnoustie Drive and through the estate to the riverside route to the town.
A more leisurely route, particularly in the summer, is to turn right immediately after Bromham Bridge along the Ouse Valley Way path and then left into Great Denham.
For the village take the above off-road route as far as the first roundabout to Biddenham and then cross using the central reservation into Gold Lane and Main Road.
For the two schools continue along the off-road route as far as the Toucan just past Biddenham Turn and then double back to Biddenham Turn and the schools.
(5) Great Denham
The new development of Great Denham can be reached using the leisure route along the Ouse Valley Way path (see 3) or via Gold Lane (see 3/4) and Manor Road and the link to Carnoustie Drive.
For confident cyclists Box End Road and the underpass of the Western Bypass into Cemetery Road is the quickest route.
A longer more leisurely route is via The Slipe (see 3), Queens Bridge and Bedford Road or for the new development of Kempston West via Great Denham (see 3 and 5) and the off-road route crossing the river Great Ouse on the Western Bypass bridge and then via Cemetery Road, Martell Drive, Ridge Road and the track to Wilkinson Road.
In the future the Great Denham Country Park will allow further cycle access to Kempston via new bridges to Hillgrounds Road and Kempston Mill.
On-road route along Village Road and Oakley Road.
On-road along Village Road, Oakley Road and Park Road.
A part off-road leisure route, particularly in the summer when the ground is dry, is via Mollivers Lane and the John Bunyan Trail bridleway to Park Road.
On-road along Stagsden Road until just before the A422/A428 roundabout and then crossing the A428 via the splitter island onto the off-road track to the village.