Tombland cycle track completion

Following a construction period of over six months and at an estimated cost of £970,000[1] the works on Tombland and Palace Street have been completed. The remodelling of this area in front of the cathedral to widen the pavements and install a short section of cycle track has been controversial.

The use of block paving and other expensive materials that are costly to construct has meant that only about 100m of cycle track could be afforded, and other schemes were cut back due to an estimated £614,000 cost overrun[1] on this project.

We will be reviewing and snagging the scheme on 19 November and writing to the city council with our findings. Our comments on Tombland and Palace Street have now been published.

1. Report to Norwich Highways Agency Committee 23 July 2015


Here is Norwich Cycling Campaign’s response to the Tombland and Palace Street consultations before construction began:

We welcome the proposals for improving cycling and walking in the historic area of Tombland and look forward to the benefits of the 20mph speed limit.

We welcome the T junction with Palace Street giving priority to traffic along the most used route, including cyclists.

We welcome the two way access for cycles from Ethelbert Gate along Tombland as this will provide good access to Princes Street (although the surface of Princes Street is not good for cycling in general and especially for less confident cyclists, not just because of the cobbles but because the surface is very uneven. A solution, as in Pottergate where smooth stones mark a track between the cobbles, could be considered when Princes Street is re-laid in the future?).

The Campaign welcomes any proposed improvement in cycling provision, but members regularly cycling from Wensum Street through Tombland and in Palace Street believe there may be problems with the some aspect of the proposals. The two-way cycle track is a good option for a less confident cyclist who only wants to cycle the Pink Pedalway. However, we are concerned that the two-way cycle track on one side of Tombland and along Palace Street will not improve the majority of cycle journeys and a relatively expensive facility is being proposed which may even make aspects of travelling in this area more difficult for some cycle journeys. We believe that the difficulties and dangers of joining and leaving the cycle track unless using the Pink Pedalway will deter the majority of cyclists in Tombland from using it, thereby creating conflict and resentment from some motorists who will think that cyclists should be off the road. On the other hand, there is possible conflict with pedestrians created by the numerous shared areas along the cycle track route.

Possible conflict with motor vehicles

  1. We welcome the T junction to replace the roundabout as for the foreseeable future the majority of cycle traffic will continue to be between Wensum St and Tombland rather than Palace Street as detailed in the report to the Highways Agency Committee 12th June2014. On an average day, 540 cyclists used Wensum Street and 214 used Palace Street.
  2. We do not agree that the narrowing of the carriageway will be beneficial for cycling southwards uphill through Tombland as stated in the FAQ. Most cyclists do not think it is beneficial that cars cannot overtake when they are going uphill as a minority will choose to risk it and pass too close. This could lead to conflict with cars and buses.
  3. If a cyclist coming from Wensum Street does choose to go south on the two way cycle path at the Palace Street junction this means travelling in front of cars waiting to turn into Tombland or Wensum Street from Palace Street and waiting on the road until any traffic on the cycle track going towards Palace Street has cleared. In these circumstances, a cyclist might decide to stay on the road where they may be perceived as unreasonably refusing to use the cycle path. A cyclist who wants to travel into Upper Kings Street from the cycle track will have to cross the east section of Queens Road to re-join the road.
  4. For cyclists coming from St Faith’s Lane to go into Tombland and Wensum Street, the signalised crossing will help with joining the northward carriageway, but again conflict might arise as it might be seen that the cyclist should be on the cycle path. Most cyclists will not choose the cycle track because of the difficulty of getting into Wensum Street where Tombland meets Palace Street.

Possible conflict with pedestrians

  1. In LTN 2/08 Cycle Infrastructure Design , the hierarchy of provision puts reallocation of carriageway space as better than cycle tracks away from roads, especially where there is a 20mph speed limit. We have seen relatively successful schemes such as St George’s St where pedestrians and cyclists share the space without demarcation. We suggest that this is because all users recognise that they must negotiate their route along the whole street and there are relatively few choices of direction. This might not be possible here. The proposed scheme puts in a dedicated two way cycle track of a different colour and height to both the path and the road, which would suggest to a cyclist the possibility of a fairly speedy and direct route, but then within a few yards there are three separate areas which are shared with pedestrians. This is too confusing for cyclists and pedestrians, especially with the large number of visitors unfamiliar with the area. The area outside Erpingham Gate has the cycle symbol on the shared area and not on the cycle path proper as at the other shared areas; is it just an oversight?
  2. Having to negotiate groups of pedestrians at regular intervals, themselves confused by the complexity of the arrangements, will lead more cyclists to use the road rather than the cycle track.

Palace Street

  1. We welcome the courtesy crossings and the traffic calming on a relatively ‘fast’ stretch of road but as not all cyclists will be following the pink pedalway, we object to creating pinch points which will be more hazardous for cyclists on the road because of the minority of car drivers deciding that they can squeeze past, whether following the cyclists or coming towards them.
  2. We are also concerned about potential confusion and conflict at the three areas where pedestrians and cyclists share the space, as in Tombland, although this is not such a busy area.

Options

  • We favour an ‘on-road’ rather than an ‘on-path solution’ that gives protected space for cyclists in the up-hill direction. An ‘on-road’ mandatory cycle lane southwards would enable pedestrians to know that they were crossing traffic, whether cycles or cars, with clarity and confidence along its whole length. There could be clear design and therefore decision making by both cyclists and pedestrians.
  • The 20mph speed limit and the possible reduction of through traffic due to the closure of St Stephens and Theatre Street should improve conditions enough to encourage cycling by more people through the area.
  • For turning right into Princes Street could there could be a short cycle refuge with a ‘ghost’ island and the same for cyclists turning right into Palace Street from Tombland.

 

 

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