Response to Prince of Wales Road/Rose Lane proposals

The rather modest proposals for Prince of Wales Road and Rose Lane in Norwich city centre have left us wondering whether it’s worth the £2.6m cost and disruption caused.

Previously the intention was to close Prince of Wales Road to general traffic as part of a plan to reduce through traffic in the city centre and improve the illegal air pollution. We also published the changes that would directly benefit cyclists and therefore help with these aims.

With only minor changes to Prince of Wales Road the proposals largely fail three of the stated aims, to:

  • Reduce levels of traffic using routes through the city centre that don’t have origin or destination there
  • Improve local air quality
  • Improve public realm – more pedestrianised areas/encourage more journeys to be made on foot

Yet there are some benefits for people cycling, if the detailed design is of high quality.

Here is our point by point response.

  1. We support segregated and kerbed contraflow cycle tracks along Prince of Wales Road and Rose Lane. We would like to be consulted on the detailed design of these tracks. The footways are busy and there should be an unambiguous differentiation between the footway and the cycle track. Furthermore the build quality of surfaces on recent cycle tracks has been poor.
  2. We welcome the closure of King Street between Agricultural Hall Plain and Rose Lane, but would want to see some delineation of routes for walking and cycling. We would prefer that existing kerbs are kept so that pedestrians and cyclists do not conflict in shared space. If the plan is for a level surface, we would favour a marked cycle route, clearly differentiated from the walkway, for clarity and comfort. The model should be All Saints Green and not Westlegate.
  3. We welcome a proposal to provide a right turn for cycles from Cattle Market Street (north bound) on to Rose Lane (east bound) to connect up with King Street.
  4. We are concerned that the narrowing of the carriageway on Prince of Wales will make conditions worse for cycles heading towards the station if there will be not be enough room for vehicles to overtake.
  5. We are disappointed that through traffic will not be removed from Prince of Wales Road as included in the Action Plan of the 2006 NATS. This misses an opportunity for making substantial improvements in the city centre. There will be an overall reduction in traffic if the through route is removed and secondly, it will specifically reduce traffic through Tombland, also an identified Action. The removal of through traffic on Prince of Wales Road will not result in a like for like increase in traffic on the inner-ring road. Studies of this kind of restriction consistently show that it is the only way to reduce overall vehicle traffic in urban areas. Traffic is not simply displaced, it is discouraged.
  6. Removal of through traffic is a key Action for improving the illegal levels of air pollution in the city centre. What other measures are planned to achieve the reductions in pollution levels caused by vehicles, given that this has been abandoned?
  7. In the process of developing a Travel Plan for the station, research showed that Norwich Station has a lower than average amount of journeys made to the station by walking and cycling. These proposals do not make the route through Prince of Wales Road more attractive, nor do they improve the junction with Riverside Road and Riverside for walking and cycling.
  8. The junctions at Agricultural Hall Plain cannot be fundamentally improved within this scheme as traffic will still be using Prince of Wales Road. As they are, these junctions are unpleasant and a barrier to both walking and cycling. Some improvements could be made to reduce pedestrian and cycle conflict on the small island between King Street and Upper King Street, which is a key route for cyclists. Furthermore speed calming measures (such as carriageway narrowing and sharper turn radii) should be made outside the Royal Hotel to reduce the speed of traffic entering Upper King Street. This will improve the environment of Upper King Street and convenience of the pedestrian crossing here. The cycle route from King Street to Upper King Street involves negotiating a series of sharp turns that are very difficult, this should be improved.
  9. All pedestrian guard rails should be removed except where beneficial for visually impaired people at crossings. A recently-published Transport for London study has shown removing pedestrian railings resulted in “a statistically significant fall of 56% (43 to 19) in the number of collisions involving pedestrians who were killed or seriously injured. There was also a fall of 48% (109 to 57) in the number of KSI collisions for all users.”
  10. The new junction Eastbourne Place is considerably worse than the current arrangement and makes it very difficult to join the proposed cycle track on Prince of Wales Road or turn in to Saint Faiths Lane. This junction needs to be redesigned.