How best to get into Cambridge? … Well that depends on who is going in, when and for what purpose. Only you can answer that question. What we are trying to do here is detail what are the options and their cost and convenience.
We love cycling in Cambridge!
In one corner of a park we counted over 1 million cyclists going past during the course of a single year. It worked out to be 3,000 per day. Read more about the counter here: https://road.cc/content/news/214326-cambridge-cycle-counter-logs-1-million-trips-inside-year
The council have done an enormous amount to make the streets safer for bikes. There is a national cycle route network and numerous local cycle routes and maps for these can be downloaded for free here: https://www.cambridgeshire.gov.uk/residents/travel-roads-and-parking/cycling/cycle-routes-and-maps
The Chrisholm Trail has recently been opened adding a completely new bridge dedicated to cyclists. In full the trail provides 26 kilometres of cycle route from Trumpington to St Ives in the north. Read more here: https://www.greatercambridge.org.uk/transport/transport-projects/chisholm-trail
There is a cycle path along the side of the guided busway, which is included in these statistics.
Sadly the various cycle networks do not all meet up with each other seamlessly. There is plenty more to do and the Cambridge Cycling Campaign have been championing the cause to improve cycling in Cambridge for many years. Read more about them here: https://www.camcycle.org.uk/
If you want to hire a bicycle the best three options are:-
City Cycle Hire
Voi e-Bikes (pinks bikes you will see on the street)
If you don’t know your way around and you’d like a guide to show you the best sites visit www.cambridgebiketours.co.uk where their City Tours run from 10:30am until 1pm and they also do a tour to Grantchester village in the afternoons.
You might be amazed to hear that it is definitely illegal for anyone to ride an e-scooter in Cambridge or anywhere else in the UK. They appear to be everywhere and yet they remain illegal.
The law that prohibits the use of e-scooters is the Road Traffic Act 1988 and also the Highways Act 1835, which is the same law that prevents segways being used.
It would be possible to use an e-scooter legally if the manufacturer made an application to the Drivers and Vehicles Standards Agency but also the vehicle would need to be taxed, MOT’ed and Insured etc., The drivers of e-scooters must have a full or provisional driver’s license.
You are in danger of a £300 fine and six points on your licence if you are caught riding an e-scooter in the UK.
Apart from the risk of a fine you might also wish to consider the dangers of riding an e-scooter on roads and pavements as in the quiet year of 2020 one e-scooter user was killed, 128 were seriously injured and 355 slightly injured. These are just the reported incidents of course.
It should be noted that a one year trial in 2019 that appears to have been continued has allowed one company special dispensation to hire e-scooters in Cambridge and for their users to be allowed to use them without being prosecuted. More information here: https://www.voiscooters.com/blog/say-hello-to-voi-e-scooters-cambridge/
3. PARK & RIDE
There is no doubt that the city council would like everyone to use the Park & Ride service. It costs £3 return per person from any of the 5 sites (no one way option). If there are 5 persons travelling together you can get a group ticket for £8. Commuters pay £14per week or £58per month.
It is free to park your car for the day after they briefly attempted to charge £1per day, which caused chaos. If you want to leave your car overnight it will cost £10 per extra night.
One option that can be overlooked is to park your car for free and take your bike out of the boot and cycle into Cambridge. Alternatively you can rent a Voi e-bike at the Park & Ride sites and cycle into town, all you need is the app and a credit card.
Many people would rather stay away from crowded public transport whilst we’re in a pandemic, which is understandable but it should be noted that social distancing measures are in place on the buses and they are never that crowded at the moment. However if fresh air is your preferred choice consider parking and riding a bike or voi e-scooter
There is coach parking at the Madingley Road site but height restrictions at all the others so don’t try and park your lorry at the Park & Ride!
Map of the 5 park and ride sites:-
There are major plans for South Cambridge to have a new busway with car parks. This is now entering phase 2 so don’t hold your breath. See here for more detail: https://www.greatercambridge.org.uk/public-transport-schemes/cambridge-south-east-transport/cambridge-south-east-transport-background
There is a very long story surrounding the guided busway in Cambridge that was due to cost £73million and ended up costing over £200million. Technology today would have meant buses would not even need a driver or rails to keep them on a track. Amazingly you can still see drivers with their arms crossed whilst they sit in the driver’s seat of a bus being driven automatically. For more information about the busway visit: https://www.thebusway.info/
4. CAR & COACH
Unfortunately we live in a world where the car still seems to be the preferred mode of transport and it’s easy to appreciate the simplicity but it’s getting expensive to park and it will only get worse.
During the pandemic driving into Cambridge has never been easier but peak times still create congestion.
There are a couple of council run car parks (Grand Arcade and Queen Anne) together with street parking and private car parks. We’ve created a table to give you an idea of cost:-
For information about council car parks see here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/parking
Park Street car park is now closed and under construction so don’t bother trying to park there. It’s being turned into a retail and residential development. See information here https://park-street.co.uk/
If you need to park for a short period its simplest to find a street parking space if you’d like to check the cost and even pay using your phone check here: https://www.myringgo.co.uk/parkinglocator
The world is going electric and there are benefits to having an electric car, which includes 2hrs free parking in most car parks or street parking areas in Cambridge. If you are looking for a charging point in Cambridge or anywhere else in the UK try here: https://www.zap-map.com/
It’s now possible to rent your own private car parking space out to complete strangers on a temporary basis. A third party will rent the driveway for a month and then sublet it to individuals. In Cambridge you would get £75per month. You can get a quote for renting out your driveway here https://www.justpark.com/how-it-works/rent-out-your-driveway
There are so many parking options, which start with a council multi storey car park at the top of the list and at the bottom is finding someone’s driveway. Probably the most convenient way to find free and convenient parking spaces see: https://en.parkopedia.co.uk/
Cambridge runs a resident’s parking scheme for many streets in the central area and they are clearly marked with street signs and white dashed boxes. You will get a ticket if you park in these designated areas without a permit. If you are a resident and you want more information see here: https://www.cambridge.gov.uk/residents-parking-permits
If you are a coach company you can drop off at Queens Road. There is then parking for £10 for the day at Madingley Road Park & Ride, which is the most suitable place to go and there is a handy Sainsbury’s nearby. For more information about coach parking see: http://coach-driver.co.uk/coachparkingc.html
Please note that we do not recommend driving around Cambridge looking for a free street parking space. It will take you ages and it’s quite possible that you will block someone in or park in a bus lane or something. It would be so much more straight forward to park in a Park & Ride car park and walk into the centre.
Unfortunately the train station is about a 15 minute walk from the city centre. Back in the Victorian times it was thought that it would be wise to have the station further out of town to make it less easy for student’s to get to London and back in a single day thereby encouraging them to stay in Cambridge and study.
You will find the train station in the south east corner of the centre and there are a plethora of coffee shops to tempt you the whole way whilst you walk into town.
Cambridge is 50minutes from London Kings Cross or 1hr 15mins from London Liverpool Street.
For information about the station and tickets we would suggest using The Trainline:-
Article by Anthony Dean
Sources and further reading:-
Cambridge Cycling Campaign
Park & Ride
Street parking charges checker here
Electric Car Charging Points
Cambridge Cycling Campaign