25 August 2010

Cambridge milky way: Starlit bike path

We were rather taken by this starry bike path. It leads east out of Cambridge towards Newmarket.

By day (right) it's your average roadside cycle track. But by night, lighting units (below right) set in the tarmac twinkle into action.

They're labelled 'Astucia'. The website says it supplies intelligent road studs, which sounds more like someone's fantasy than traffic illumination equipment.

They've only been here a couple of weeks and we're told they're not solar - like similar units installed in other cycle paths in Cambridge - but luminous, whatever that means.

It seems to us a very good lighting solution (right). We much prefer this to floodlighting, whose shadows create more problems than the lights solve. But these twinkly lights form an easily followed constellation (with Mars-like red versions to show stop lines at junctions) and don't intrude outside the range of the bike path itself.

And they're clearly better than nothing (right).

They're also rather romantic. If you find the Hubble Space Telescope romantic.

Still, anything that can make Stow-cum-Quy and the A14 a must-visit romantic destination on a dark night is OK by us.


  1. I'm pretty sure there are some solar lights like that on the Isle of Wight near Newport on the route from Cowes. I only go there once a year to see my auntie and it's always day time so I don't know how they look at night. They are on a section where the path runs near water.

  2. I left my heart in Stow-cum-Quy

  3. Quy is pronounced to rhyme with 'why'. There's an old mill stream (now a hotel) called Quy Water.

    Sadly, though, we couldn't find a Bridge Over the River Quy.

  4. Stow-cum-Quy is also conveniently located for a trip to Anglesey Abbey (which has a very nice tea room, including the National Trust Meal Deal -- a £3.50 cream tea).

  5. Steve Allen - Quy Mill HotelThursday, 26 August, 2010

    There is a little bridge at the Hotel; which of course we refer to as the Bridge over the river Quy

  6. Pleased to hear there is a bridge. Come to think of it, the chap sat opposite me in the jacuzzi did look a bit like Alec Guinness.

  7. I saw something in a traffic engineering show a few years ago about what sounds like these lights. They really are intelligent. You think they just lie there in the road, but acually they can watch what's happening around them, and talk to each other, or talk to a tranciever by the edge of the road ro communicate with the local council's Mission Control.

    They come with different types of sensors. For example one kind can detect a large lump of scrap iron sitting over it, and not moving, and thereby deduce a traffic jam. It can pass a message to the upstream lights, getting them to flash in unison, like fireflies. Another kind knows if it is underwater for some reason.

    I think there's a Sustrans route in Kent somewhere that, where the Sustrans route crosses a road, has such lights. What happens if a bike appears, I don't know

    Jeremy Parker

  8. We've also got them on the path leading south from Cambridge from the hospital (Addenbrookes) towards Shelford, though there they're not always both sides of the path and are frequently hidden by the encroaching verges.

  9. According to their website they're just LEDs powered from the mains. Not very innovative at all. We want solar!!