We are annoyed at Norwich City Council’s inaction over the continued blockage of Bowthorpe Hall Road to the west of the city. This public highway has been closed for almost six months and it seems that because it’s only for people cycling and walking there’s no rush to get it reopened.
Bowthorpe Hall Road is a direct, traffic-free part of the route from Bowthorpe and Three Score towards the city via Earlham Green Lane. In the reverse direction it provides a route out of the city via Bawburgh for leisure cycling as well as commuters. It is the route of two Pedalways – supposedly the city’s premier cycle routes.
So that buses at Bowthorpe centre can get to new developments at Three Score a bus-only road was to be built over part of Bowthorpe Hall Road. The design of the ‘bus gate’, described as a “mistake” by Councillor Mike Sands, interrupts the current wide and straight cycle route and pushes cyclists on to a shared-use path with people walking. With so few buses on this part of the route there is no need for a bus-only road: buses and cycles could share.
To add insult to injury the route was closed in April, dug up and has remained closed since.
27 April 2015: Bowthorpe Hall Road was closed to begin the works, which were expected to take three weeks.
Early May 2015: Work stops after the road was ripped up and with rubble on the route. The road remains blocked off.
23 July 2015: Virginia Greasley, from Norwich Cycling Campaign, asks the Norwich Highways Agency Committee to “clarify the date when cyclists and pedestrians will be able to use this route” and is told that “Officers are doing all they can to support the contractor in getting the design completed and approved, and are pressing them to ensure they can get back on site as soon as possible“. According to one report Cllr Morphew ‘promised to get this sorted as soon as possible’.
24 September 2015: Dr Jeremy Bartlett receives a response from Norwich City Council to say that the road will be blocked indefinitely.
24 September 2015: Dr Jeremy Bartlett attempts to ask a question to the full Council meeting on 29 September but is blocked by procedure.
Late September 2015: Diversion signs finally appeared, yet the route is still closed.
And here we are in mid October with the route having been closed for six months and no end in sight. A new information board at the site says that Norwich City Council and Tarmac “anticipate” that the route will reopen in January 2016.
Since there appear to be continuing problems with the design of the bus-only road we call on Norwich City Council to instruct the contractors to immediately reinstate Bowthorpe Hall Road and reopen this important cycle route.