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New cycle-friendly cattle grids fail to stop cows escaping and roaming free on bike path, causing “rush hour gridlock”

A councillor said the “very well-meaning scheme” was introduced to allow cyclists and wheelchair users to more easily cross the adapted grids, though one local claimed the council was bowing to the “selfish demands of a handful of cycling extremists”

Cows in Cambridge have been launching their own bovine breakaway on one of the city’s cycle paths this week – by taking advantage of newly installed cattle grids designed to be more friendly to people on bikes.

The adapted barriers were installed across the city as part of a new active travel scheme by Cambridgeshire County Council to enable cyclists and people using wheelchairs and mobility scooters to cross the cattle grids more easily.

However, their low-profile design has prompted several agile cows – a common feature for centuries on Cambridge’s green spaces – to navigate the new barriers and make their way onto the Chisholm Trail in the northeast of the city.

The escapees were spotted earlier this week by Cambridge artist and former Labour councillor Hilary Cox Condron, who jokingly tweeted that the marauding members of the herd were causing “rush hour gridlock” for cyclists using the path.

A spokesperson for the city council, who noted that the cows are able to step over the grids and squeeze between the bollards, said the issue was rectified quickly, while the pedestrian underpass that runs beneath the Fen Causeway has also been blocked off completely by the city council to prevent more cows from using it to reach the gate-free pasture at Sheep’s Green.

“It was a very well-meaning scheme,” Green councillor Naomi Bennett told the Cambridge Independent.

“The adapted cattle grid was installed so that cyclists and people in wheelchairs and mobility scooters could cross it without being too shaken up.

“Unfortunately, the cows could easily walk across and escaped onto the Chisholm Trail where they ate all the new trees that had been planted there. Luckily that situation was remedied quite quickly.”

> Cyclist's arm stuck in cattle grid for 90 minutes after fall from bike

However, others aren’t as convinced of the merits of the cycle-friendly scheme.

One Cambridge resident, quoted by the Daily Mail, said the seemingly ineffective cattle grids brought “a new meaning to the taxpayers of Cambridge being ‘cash cows’ for cyclists in the city”.

The local continued: “This is what happens when decisions are based not on common sense, but on appeasing the selfish demands of a handful of cycling extremists who have no consideration for the world around them.

“There was nothing wrong with the previous gates/grids. What a complete waste of time and taxpayers’ money.”

A Cambridge City Council spokesperson said: “We have found previously that cows can straddle narrow cattle grids and squeeze between bollards, and shared our concerns with County Council colleagues. We understand measures are to be put in place that will reduce the risk of cows escaping, whilst retaining the desired open cycle and footpath routes.”

Meanwhile, the county council, which is responsible for the cattle grids, said that it is working on a solution which will still allow access to the path for those cycling and wheeling, while (hopefully) preventing further bovine escapes.

“We put in the new cattle grids as part of our Active Travel programme which replaced the vehicle and pedestrian gates,” a spokesperson said.

“We’re aware of the concerns from the City Council about the cows and we’re looking to put in some additional railings as soon as possible.

“Work will be carried out on the cattle grids to allow for up to 20-tonne vehicles and we’re working with Cambridge City Council about the wheelchair tracks and what we can do to reduce the risk of cows escaping. We will fix this as soon as possible.”

Ryan joined in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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Matthew Acton-Varian | 8 months ago
1 like

"Cycling Extremists"?

What do they think we do, ride around with IEDs under our lycra screaming "Die, you motoring infidels!"?

Hide AK-47s under our chamois pads?

What next, are we going to be called pedal-nazis?

It grinds my gears (Excuse the pun) when people casually use words and phrases traditionally associated with major events and tragedies that have caused death, destruction and suffering to many. The use of "extremist" in this context is insulting and hurtful to those affected by the actions of radical extremists of any belief by trivialising such incidents.

mattw | 8 months ago

Grids installed by County Council seem not to meet LTN 1/20 standards, and concern was expressed by City Council.

The LTN 1/20 example is in ... Cambridge.

What they put in:


mattw replied to mattw | 8 months ago

LTN 1/20 example:


Car Delenda Est | 8 months ago

It says a lot that when these people say something, that they clearly expect to be in agreement with popular opinion, they pretend the disabled don't exist and instead rally against the cyclist boogeyman.

Secret_squirrel | 8 months ago

I have ask to what makes these grids so special though.  The metal slat style like a pallet are perfectly fine.  The only iffy ones I've come across are the ones made with curved metal bars which are both bumpy and slippy.

wycombewheeler | 8 months ago

It's always cycling extremists blamed for this, when actually the most acive cyclists wilhae little problem it's really about equal oportunties acces.


But of course no one will go on rcord and say "they are spoiling it for everyone to pander to a few disabled people" 

ktache replied to wycombewheeler | 8 months ago

There's a flat bar cattle grid I occasionally ride over, normally prevented by a locked big gate, no problem for me but seems to prevent the cows from transgressing, but would be very difficult for wheelchairs.

Attempting to cater for the extremist less than abled!

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