Norwich Cycling Campaign has been re-invigorated over the past year: that was one of the themes at the annual general meeting on 16 November 2015. You can read the summary report below.
In addition to the formal business we were delighted to welcome Nigel Brigham, Regional Director for Sustrans, and Ed Parnaby who is running a project at RSPB Strumpshaw Fen to increase physical activity through regular canoeing, running and cycling from the RSPB reserve.
Also at the meeting was a preview of a video about The Avenues, keep an eye out for the public release!
We have doubled our membership in the past year and dramatically increased our reach to new members and everyone else through a more active Facebook page and updates to this website.
The new committee meets soon to set the campaign’s priorities for 2016. I hope that some of the themes seen at the AGM — better connections with local organisations, increased engagement with our members and strong campaigning — will help to improve Norwich for those travelling by car, bus, cycle, foot and for those living and working in our city.
Report for the year to November 2015
Norwich Cycling Campaign continues to try and get the best it can for cyclists in Norwich. It has been exceptionally busy this year with consultations, publicity and media interest. Several new people have attended meetings. The Committee is currently: Edgar Fernandez and Richard Jennings (both coopted) Jeff Jordan, Virginia Greasley and Christine Wilson as ‘rotating’ chairs, Margaret Todd (Coordinator), Bob Cutter (Treasurer and Membership Secretary), Richard Jennings (website), Edgar Fernandez, Tony Clarke (CTC) and Phyll Hardie. Also contributing were John Elbro (consultations), Ian Chapman (Living Streets), Jane Wallace (Sustrans). Thanks to Olly Stretton Downes who was web manager for years, and to Matt Williams for doing the newsletter.
We have shared consultations among the committee and developed our knowledge of how the Council works. Committee members have met several times with Councillors and Council Officers about the various proposals.
Golden Ball Street and Westlegate (RJ)
The City and Council Councils are proposing to pedestrianise Westlegate and change the road layouts on Golden Ball and Ber Streets. While we are happy with the general principle of reducing unnecessary motor traffic in the city centre we were unhappy with how little the scheme provides for people cycling – you can read our response on the website. We are concerned about the spread of so-called ‘shared space’ on busy roads and the expectation that people cycling should only use specific routes. Members of the Campaign drew up some alternative proposals and we have met with council officers but so far they have largely rejected our suggested improvements.
Push the Pedalway schemes (MT and CW)
At last year’s AGM we were in the middle of consultations on the Pink Pedalway. The schemes are coming to completion and we have been very disappointed in the way that decisions throughout the year have resulted in cycling being put down the list of priorities.
Park Lane – a proposed road closure was abandoned because of motorists’ and residents’ objections.
Unthank Road/Park Lane junction was rehashed to create wider footpaths on Park Lane but has removed the centre slip lane for cyclists turning right up Essex Street.
The Avenues from Colman Road to Bluebell Road: what we got was a far cry from what we thought we were getting. We agreed with improvements for cyclists and pedestrians at Bunnet Square and an extended traffic light start for cyclists heading to UEA and the City. We were very disappointed about the late decision to abandon dedicated cycle paths and parking, ostensibly due to tree roots though no one has explained why this wasn’t foreseen. Much of the money seems to have gone on traffic calming and the results have led to a dangerous situation where vehicles, including buses, on a central lane tend to move into the discretionary cycle lanes in order to pass each other.
Tombland/Palace Street: we objected to several proposals (very expensive cycle path/shared path to nowhere leaving a very narrow stretch of uphill road, school).
Heathgate is under construction now.
Gurney Road path is good and so is the lighting on The Valley.
Magdalen Street: the Campaign fully supported opening up Magdalen Street and Cowgate to two-way traffic and imposing a 20 mph limit. We made suggestions about ASLs, pavement widening, and the narrowness of parking bays for vans.
Northern Distributor Road (NDR) (JE)
In December 2014 the Planning Inspectorate completed its examination of Norfolk County Council’s plans for the NDR. Norwich Cycling Campaign had submitted several detailed objections and recommendations regarding the proposed cycling provision with two over-all objections centred on inadequate arrangements for non-motorised users (NMUs) to cross the NDR at roundabouts (no overpasses, underpasses, or light controlled crossings)
The design of the NMU routes and use of unsealed “compacted road planings” for a surface shared with horses was not suitable for many cyclists.
After further consultations, the result was overwhelming support for a surface and design that corresponds to one of our suggested solutions. This is really good news at this stage. It is another example of Council Officers being receptive to our suggestions.
The design adopted for the NMU routes (apart from those designated as cycleways anyway) has successfully worked for Sustrans in other parts of the UK. This change, together with the design for the Postwick Hub, will provide a cycle route with significant off-road sections from Whitlingham Country Park to the Marriotts Way and beyond.
Generation Park and Deal Ground Developments (TC)
These twin developments, north and south of the River Wensum, at Trowse and Thorpe, present cyclists with opportunities and threats. Part of the plan is to extend the present cycle path under Carrow Bridge, via the existing underpass under the railway line, to a new bridge over the Wensum. The route (which will become Sustrans National Cycle Route One) will continue on a dedicated cycle path beside a new road to Trowse.
The new bridge is an untested design which will require cyclists to share the road space with HGVs, buses and cars. A line of steel bollards will cross the bridge on each side, narrowing at the centre to form a pinch point. We have submitted a detailed objection to the scheme which focuses on the design of the bridge but also deals with traffic flow and cyclists’ safety on both developments.
Bowthorpe Hall Road (RJ and EF)
Despite our objections the City Council has not taken action over the continued blockage of Bowthorpe Hall Road which has now been closed since April while building took place. The road is the route of two Pedalways – supposedly the city’s premier cycle routes.
A bus-only road was to be built over part of the road so buses could go from Bowthorpe centre to new developments at Three Score. The design of the ‘bus gate’ pushes cyclists on to a path shared with pedestrians. So few buses use this part of the route that there is no need for a bus-only road; buses and cycles could share.
Despite questions from us and a member of the public to Councillors and at Highways Agency meetings, the route is still closed but a new information board at the site says that Norwich City Council and Tarmac “anticipate” that the route will reopen in January 2016.
We ‘moved’ meetings and address to the Charing Cross Centre. We had new cards and posters printed and we revamped the campaign’s website with a matching new style and changed the technology to make it easier to edit and extend. We are concentrating on adding news articles more often in addition to events and advertising Facebook posts. Since June we have had around 3,000 page views or around 10-30 per day. MT and PH have appeared on Mustard TV and MT on the BBC.
Norfolk Cycle Show: We had a stall at this event in June and we celebrated 25 years of the Campaign with a cake which was cut by the Deputy Lord Mayor. We had over 40 enquiries from the public.
Norwich cycling map: Ben Webster consulted us on the new Norwich cycling map but that is now in abeyance.
Avenues and Recreation Road schools: EF, RJ and VG ran a stall which was very successful.
Bike Week: VG and BC organised rides.
King Street Neighbours met with Ben Webster over numerous issues. RJ and VG attended and the Campaign will be involved
Station Travel Plan: MT attended a meeting on behalf of the Campaign. The plan is due January 2016.
Norfolk Cycling and Walking Strategy for Norfolk: Cllr Hilary Cox, Norfolk Walking and Cycling Champion, recently showed a draft of the new strategy to a CTC meeting. TC is the link with the Campaign
Norfolk and Norwich Transport Action Group: PH has been attending meetings