The Cookham Plan - Transport and Traffic





7   Cycling


7.1   Background to the suggestion of a Sustrans Cycle Route through Cookham


The previous Cookham Plan proposal, now under review, recommended an extension of the existing Sustrans’ cycle track from Maidenhead to Cookham, with the plan to continue its course through Cookham to Bourne End and beyond. The track currently ends at its most northerly point, at the Strande Lane/Lightlands Lane junction. There is no official cycle track in Bourne End.


Sustrans, which is an organisation promoting cycling, wants a track to run northwards into Bucks as part of a plan for a network of cycle routes throughout the country. An extension from Lightlands Lane to Bourne End has been discussed with Sustrans in the past.  Although there is no legal obligation to provide such a route, Cookham attempted to co-operate. However, there were objections about the potential impact of cyclists upon the riverside and other amenity routes already widely used by residents, ramblers etc. Consequently, meetings over several years between Sustrans, Cookham Parish Council, The Cookham Society, the National Trust, other countryside organisations and the landowners have never been able to establish an agreed route. The Ramblers’ Association representatives were unhappy at the prospect of walkers sharing existing footpath routes with cyclists and issues have also arisen about the construction of such a cycle track detracting from the timeless and exceptional natural beauty of the Cookham riverside landscape.


Sustrans’ own specification is for this cycle route to be two metres wide, with a slightly raised surface (types of surface vary), which should be separated from both pedestrians and motorists. In certain conditions which could also apply here, Sustrans recommend wider, double tracks with a raised division between cycling/pedestrian usage.



7.2   Remit


The new Traffic and Transport Working Group (hereafter called the Group), three-quarters of whom are keen cyclists, has undertaken to review the validity of this proposal and look at possible alternatives to this route and any other ways to help cyclists in Cookham.



7.3   Potential Routes


The Group examined all the previous proposals as well as carrying out its own research into potential routes. All the routes start at the end of the current Maidenhead-Cookham cycle track at Strande Lane and all terminate at the railway bridge linking Cookham to Bourne End.  The map at the end of this section of the report shows all the routes.


7.3.1       Green Route

The Green Route is the existing aforementioned Sustrans’ cycle track, which runs between Strande Lane in Cookham, and Maidenhead. The other green track shown on the map is an existing route along Switchback Road.


7.3.2             Red Route

This is the previous Cookham Plan proposed route, which would leave the Green Route in Strande Lane and continue northwards along Maidenhead Road, crossing the roundabout to continue up Poundfield Lane. At the north end of the Lane, the route would cross Terry’s Lane diagonally to reach the track leading towards the golf course. Before reaching the golf course, it would turn eastwards and proceed downhill towards Marsh Meadow to connect with the Sustrans’ Blue Route (see below and on map), eventually diverting towards the railway line and running northwards, parallel to it, until reaching the railway bridge crossing.


The north end of this designated route remains distant from the towpath until it reaches the river railway bridge, so would cause minimal disruption to pedestrians using the towpath. It would also be largely out of sight to pedestrians and river users. However, the landowner has raised objections on the grounds that this area is dedicated as a nature conservation area and is also boggy, which he believes would make a cycle track impractical.


7.3.3             Blue Route

This is Sustrans’ own preferred route through Cookham, and the preferred choice of The Cookham Society.


It leads from Strande Lane, across the fields near the site of Strande Castle to Cookham Moor, continuing from the north side of the Moor and along the existing footpath around the golf course. From this point, the route diverts to the towpath on the riverbank, where it proceeds until reaching the railway river bridge crossing into Bucks.


However, the Group was informed that no agreement to the plan can currently be made with the owner of the field south of the Moor, which means that the Blue Route will contain a gap (dotted in Blue on the map) until such time that this becomes possible.


7.3.4             Mauve Route

This is the route from the Moor car park to the river crossing, which is favoured by the land owner. It runs along the line of an existing footpath crossing the centre of Marsh Meadow towards the riverbank, then runs westwards along the entire length of the towpath from Marsh Meadow to the railway/pedestrian river bridge crossing to Bourne End.

7.4   Evaluation of the routes


Bearing in mind Sustrans’ own specification for a cycle route, the Blue Route could potentially be acceptable. The link between Strande Lane and Cookham Moor could be established, were it not for the objections of the owner of the field south of the Moor. At its northern end, a compromise would be for the cycle track to be routed behind the pollarded trees parallel with the towpath at the approach to the Bourne End river railway bridge. This would avoid the marshy route alongside the railway line, while the riverbank path would be for the use of pedestrians.


The Red Route would not achieve the Sustrans’ specification. The route is initially along Maidenhead Road, which would also require cyclists to cross this road, and is therefore not separate from traffic. The Poundfield footpath is very narrow, is well used by walkers, and a cycle track would require the destruction of trees and hedgerows. There have recently been instances of groups of cyclists riding dangerously fast down the hill of the footpath in Poundfield Lane, resulting in near-collisions between cyclists and pedestrians. There are similar potential problems with the section of the route downhill alongside the edge of the golf course. The long crossing point across Terry’s Lane, from the end of Poundfield Lane, is diagonal and uphill, which would be dangerous for a young family pushing cycles to cross, due to traffic using Terry’s Lane and a blind bend in each direction. Finally, the Red Route proposes to follow the railway line, which the land owner believes is too boggy and is a nature conservation area.


The Mauve Route would be likely to produce the same objections from countryside organisations as did the original proposals.


In short, there are problems with all the potential routes, which would appear to be why no agreement was ever reached.


7.5   The Bourne End Link


The Group has been in contact with Bucks County Council Footpaths Officer and Wooburn and Bourne End Parish Council regarding possible plans for continuation of the proposed Sustrans’ cycle route from the Bourne End riverside. At present, there are no plans to establish a cycle track from this point through Bourne End and the Group was led to believe that, due to lack of availability of a suitable route, there is little likelihood of such a link being established in the foreseeable future.


Therefore, if an extension of the Sustrans’ cycle track was constructed across Cookham, it would terminate at the river bridge crossing to Bourne End.  


7.6   Recommendations


For the reasons above, the Group proposes that an extension of the existing Maidenhead-Cookham cycle track should not be pursued at the present time. This could be reviewed if (a) Sustrans provide a complete cycle track link from the river railway bridge, through and beyond Bourne End and (b) if the owner of the field at the south side of Cookham Moor is willing to allow the track to cross this area (the Blue dotted route on the plan).


The Group is also concerned that a cycle track should only be built if it does not affect Cookham residents’ enjoyment of the river and surrounding countryside in being able to feel safe and unrestricted and allowing children and dogs to roam freely, without danger from cyclists. It is also recognised that construction of a cycle track would bring some urbanising, detrimental changes to the landscape, both through Cookham and by the riverside and that, prior to any decision on this, the public should be made fully aware of the potential visual impact.


The Group recognises that a Sustrans cycle track is likely to be of far more benefit to cyclists passing through Cookham, than to Cookham residents. The Group noted earlier concerns that, once a track through the village is nationally advertised by Sustrans on its maps and websites, the volume of cyclists may irrevocably increase, at the inconvenience of Cookham residents. Another fear, expressed at a meeting with Sustrans, was that cyclists (who are often in groups) would be unlikely to stay on the designated track and would take their own routes along the Cookham riverside, which is also part of the Thames Path.  


7.7   Other Cycling Matters in Cookham

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Barrier requiring redesign (click for larger image)

·        The Group believes that, to encourage cycling by Cookham residents, there should be adequate lockable cycle parking available, particularly in the area of the railway station and shopping parade.


·        There is no other road within Cookham that is suitable for the addition of a parallel cycle track, such as already exists in Switchback Road.

·        There have been complaints that the existing Sustrans’ cycle track from Maidenhead contains barriers which require redesigning as they do not allow some cycles through. Rectifying this would increase usage and particularly enable parents and children to cycle between home and schools in Cookham and Maidenhead.


·        The Group believes that the matter of cycling training for children is important, but it is understood that this subject is covered in the curriculum at Cookham schools.  


7.8   Map of Potential Cycling Routes


Please refer to the next page for a map of potential cycling routes


7.8.1       Map of Potential Cycling Routes (click for larger image)