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First stage of Chisholm Trail walking and cycling route across Cambridge opens





The first stage of the Chisholm Trail cycling and walking route in Cambridge was opened on Thursday (December 23).

Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937365)
Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937365)

This section of the trail connects Cambridge North to Coldham’s Lane via the new Abbey Chesterton Bridge and Newmarket Road underpass. The new bridge connects East Chesterton to the Barnwell community on the south side of the river and the wider Abbey ward. The underpass gives people a safe, traffic-free route beneath one of the city’s busiest access roads.

The bridge and underpass are connected by new active travel paths leading between Cambridge North station and Coldham’s Lane, opening up access to the historic green spaces of Ditton Meadows and Coldham’s Common.

The opening was attended by representatives from the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) and Cambridgeshire County Council and cycling campaigner Jim Chisholm, who the trail is named after.

Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937361)
Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937361)

Jim, a Camcycle member and former trustee, started campaigning in 1998 for a route that would connect the Science Park with Cambridge railway station. With a nod to a famous Wild West cattle trail, the name has stuck from the route’s placement into the Local Plan in 2005 to the GCP project which has finally brought Jim’s dream to reality. Construction of the second section of the trail, connecting Coldham’s Lane with Cambridge station (and the southern busway path to Addenbrooke’s), is due to begin in 2022.

Jim said: “Getting this far has been a long campaign. I realised it was likely that providing quality cycling and walking routes in and around Cambridge would enable many more to leave their car at home, and make trips on foot or cycle so bringing health benefits yet without significant time penalty. “This ‘modal shift’ is an economical way to free up road space for public transport and other essential motor vehicle trips on existing roads.

“When completed this route will connect green spaces, major employment sites, education centres, and residential areas within Cambridge to provide enjoyable trips for pedestrians and cyclists away from busy roads and that, even at a leisurely pace, can be quicker than driving.

“My professional background in transport modelling helped me realise that providing high-quality active travel routes in and around Cambridge would enable many more people to leave their car at home. It’s predicted that around four thousand walking and cycling trips will be made on this new route each day, bringing health and wellbeing benefits to individuals and reducing congestion and air pollution for everyone in the city. I have always envisaged this route as a ‘linear park’, suitable for everyone, and look forward to seeing a wide range of people walking, cycling and wheeling along the route in the coming months.”

Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937366)
Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937366)

Phase one of the trail was a joint project between the GCP and the county council and minor work to finalise the scheme will continue into the new year before a formal launch.

Cllr Elisa Meschini, chair of the GCP’s executive board and deputy leader of the county council, said:

“This is a landmark moment for active travel journeys in Cambridge and an exciting moment for councillors, cycling groups and the community who have long championed this fantastic project – and I would like to thank our contractors for their hard work in getting it to this stage.

“I am delighted that people are enjoying truly transformed active travel journeys over the River Cam via the Abbey Chesterton Bridge and the new Newmarket Road underpass to provide better and safer journeys.

“Once phase two is complete, the Chisholm Trail will provide a first-class active travel route right across the city to connect people with work, education and leisure opportunities, and link into other active travel projects being developed to ensure Cambridge remains the UK’s cycling city.”

Camcycle executive director Roxanne De Beaux said: “This is a fantastic Christmas present for local communities who have waited so long for this route to be finished. It will be the perfect place for children who have received a cycle from Santa to test out their new wheels and a vital new link from residential areas to local schools, shops, jobs and activities. Thousands more people now have new options for their everyday journeys that involve cycling or walking away from busy roads, and that are more enjoyable and convenient than driving.”

Alison Thompson, who cycles with her children from Abbey to their school in Chesterton, said: “Cycling is the most practical, efficient and enjoyable mode of transport for our family and it has been great seeing our kids develop their confidence and ability as cyclists. The new Chisholm Trail route gives us a direct link across the river to school and will reduce congestion on the Green Dragon bridge which was previously the shortest way to cross. I love that I have lived and worked here for over 10 years and never had the need to own a car – it’s one of the unique and really special things about Cambridge.”

Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937374)
Jim Chisholm opening phase 1 of the Chisholm Trail and the new cycle bridge over the Cam between Abbey and Chesterton . Picture: Keith Heppell. (53937374)

The Chisholm Trail is a walking and cycling route, creating a mostly off-road and traffic-free route between Cambridge station and the new Cambridge North station. It will link to Addenbrooke’s Hospital and the Cambridge Biomedical Campus in the south and to the business and science parks in the north.

The 40ft Abbey Chesterton Bridge was lifted into place over the River Cam in November 2020 when it was revealed that the cost of the first phase had increased by £7m.

The Newmarket Road underpass was completed in seven days in spring this year.

Final works - including the installation of some fencing, surfacing on Fen Road and landscaping - to complete phase one of the scheme will continue over the coming weeks.

For more, visit greatercambridge.org.uk/chisholm-trail.



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