Newsletter

September 2022

Grasstrack cycle racing

Grasstrack cycle racing in the blistering sun – Photo Derek

Summer is drawing to a close and as we welcome the cooler weather autumn will bring it’s worth reflecting on what an extraordinary summer it’s been.

With temperature records being broken at an ever-increasing rate we need to drastically change the way we get about for all sorts of reasons, not least to reduce the impact of car traffic on air pollution and CO2 levels in our cities.

If we don’t embrace the bicycle now, when will we?

The campaign have been out and about with our stall, engaging with members of the public – most recently at the Norwich Grasstrack cycle racing event at Hewett Academy.

The Norwich Western Link is out for public consultation and we've just discovered a service track is being constructed alongside the route. It wouldn't take much to make this into a cycle track.

Derek has his latest ride-through video, this time of the eastern section of the Green Pedalway where he looks at the recent changes – and he doesn’t like what he sees.

Peter cycles to Wymondham. It’s the best of the routes out of the city by far but is it up to the task?

Kidical Mass returns to Norwich later in the month. Thomas Woods explains the background to this growing movement and how you can get involved.

We have the latest on the saga of the Earlham Road wand and the King Street kerb.

Grant Shapps got into a spot of bother over number plates for cyclists and set back the cause of road safety in the process.

We say goodbye to a cycling legend, world-renowned bicycle designer Mike Burrows, who was continuing to bring his innovative designs to life from his workshop in Rackheath right up until his death last month.

Cargo bikes are becoming increasingly common on our city’s streets but as YouTuber NotJustBikes explains, this is just the beginning.

Grasstrack cycle racing – normal for Norwich

On one of the hottest days of the year a bunch of cycle racing enthusiasts gathered in the sports field of the Hewett Academy on Cecil Road.

This was the revival of grasstrack cycle racing in Norwich after a hiatus of several decades.

The bikes are as basic as they come: single-speed, fixed-gear and no brakes. Classic steel frame bikes in retro colours mingled with the latest sleek aerodynamic carbon fibre designs.

The action on the track could be intense but it was a very chilled-out spectacle for those watching. With beer, pizza and good coffee on hand from local vendors this was a friendly day out for all.

Our stall

Peter, Derek and Virginia on the cycling campaign stall – Photo Jeff

The row of mature trees along the ring road provided perfect shelter from the sun for spectators and resting competitors alike.

We even got in on the action with the Norwich Cycling Campaign cargo bike doing a few laps of the circuit.

Peter taking the cargo bike for a spin around the track – Photo Derek

Many thanks to Stuart Beard for the loan of the cargo bike. It’s definitely the way to arrive!

Upcoming events

Kidical Mass family bike ride Saturday 24th September


Following the amazing success of their first ride in May, Kidical Mass Norwich are back in September for their second family bike ride. Norwich Cycling Campaign will be there providing support and joining in the fun! All are invited.

Meet at 2pm in Chapelfield Gardens

Keep up to date with the latest news of the event on their Facebook page.

Kidical Mass poster

Norwich Peace Camp & Peace Cycle Saturday 8th October

We’ll have a stall in the Forum. Further details to follow.

Social rides

Next ride – to Drayton via the Marriott's Way
Sunday 18th September
Meet 11.00am outside John Lewis on All Saints Green

For our fifth social ride of the year we’ll be heading out to Drayton on the Marriott's Way.

The Marriott's Way is justifiably one of the more popular routes on the Pedalways network.

The section out to the old Hellesdon station is an all-weather bound "bitmac" surface and the crossing on Hellesdon Road was recently brought up to current design standards with a parallel cyclist and pedestrian crossing.

Beyond Hellesdon station the surface was improved last winter, sadly only a semi-bound surface which still generates a lot of dust and grit (and muddy slush in wet weather), but it's noticeably attracted more riders.

Following the success of the refreshment stop on last month's ride we'll take the opportunity to stop at a café midway in Drayton before returning to Norwich.

Last month's ride

After our epic adventure out to the NDR in July we chose a shorter route to the Whitlingham Country Park for our August ride. This gave us the opportunity to stop at the café for coffee and cakes.

We still managed a ride around the Great Broad and a look at the frankly terrifying cycle path on the A47 Whitlingham viaduct. We also stopped off to look at what’s underneath the viaduct – a cavernous outdoor space that serves as a giant canvas for local graffiti artists.

A wet Tony

Group photo under the A47 viaduct – Photo Derek

The Norwich Western Link goes out to consultation

“Controversial” is the adjective most associated with the Norwich Western Link which is currently out to public consultation.

Whatever your view on the proposed road, if it is built it should at least have a cycle track alongside it.

It’s been government policy since July 2020 that any major new road scheme must include provision for active travel.

The consultants claim that the “reference design” was completed before then so that doesn't apply, which sounds like something currently being illegally discharged into our rivers and seas.

Frame grab from the fly-through video

Derek has been looking at the fly-through video produced to go with the consultation and has discovered that a service track is being constructed for much of the route. All that’s needed is a bridge across the (non-navigable) river to complete the route. There’s no reason not to build a cycle track.

You can read Derek’s article here: The NWL goes to consultation

Please respond to the consultation here and let them know they can’t get away with this.

Green Pedalway – eastern section ride-through video

The Green Pedalway – click for route description and videos

The latest ride-through video from Derek follows the eastern half of the Green Pedalway.

The Green Pedalway's eastern half now runs from what the council's Pedalways cycle map calls "the Plumsteads", a little bit of suburbia near to Great Plumstead actually known as "The Willows", via Dussindale, Harvey Lane, Thorpe Road and Prince of Wales Road to St Andrews Plain in the city.

The route has recently been changed in three places as a part of the LCWIP (Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan) which have added some frankly dangerous sections.

Originally it went to the Broadland Business Park, a major employment area near to Dussindale. Now the section to the Plumsteads has been added along a country lane which carries a fair amount of traffic.

This new section is little more than a line on a map and doesn't really count as a cycle route.

The route to the Broadland Business Park is still there of course, but it’s unmarked.

The second change is the route has been diverted away from quiet residential streets onto Harvey Lane, a busy road carrying a lot of traffic and with a steep hill and then along the busy Yarmouth and Thorpe Roads. This whole section is marked as hazardous on the council's cycle map and is not a suitable route for a Pedalway to take.

The third recent diversion takes the Green Pedalway away from the quiet backstreets of St Faiths Lane and Princes Street and instead runs along Prince of Wales Road with a substandard cycle track inbound and with cyclists expected to ride in busy traffic outbound.

It’s not obvious why these changes have been made: it’s as if someone with no knowledge of the area looked at a map and drew some lines.

Cycling to Wymondham

Improving the cycle routes within the city boundary is where the most benefit is to be had in terms of getting people on bikes, but good routes to the surrounding towns and villages are also important.

Many of these routes pass close to the new large housing estates being built on the outskirts of the city and beyond. If we don't want to "bake in" yet more car dependency it’s vitally important that safe, direct routes are built so people can cycle for the short trips into the city or to nearby shops rather than hopping into the car.

Wymondham Abbey from Becketswell Meadow – Photo Peter

The route to Wymondham on the Blue Pedalway is by far the best of these routes and has recently been improved. In what may become a regular series of articles, Peter finds out what it’s like to ride the route.

You can read Peter’s article here: Cycling to Wymondham

Kidical Mass – a worldwide movement

The second Norwich Kidical Mass ride will be on Saturday 24th September. Co-organiser Thomas Woods explains how the movement started, what it hopes to achieve and how you can get involved in the event.

Norwich Kidical Mass ride in May – Photo Thomas Woods

If you came to the inaugural ride in May or watched the video you'll know it will be a fun ride for all the family but with a serious message – we need to make our streets safe for everyone, especially for children.

You can read Tom's article here: Kidical Mass returns to Norwich this September

Earlham Road wand and King Street kerb

With the summer holidays in full swing it was unlikey that we'd see much action but six weeks (the expected time to fix issues) has passed and gone and a replacement wand on Earlham Road has still failed to materialise.

We can report progress (of sorts) on the King Street kerb. We were assured that the issue would be resolved by the end of August, but as of early September we've yet to see any evidence of activity on the ground.

 

We will continue to follow up with the council on these issues. 

Grant Shapps' “dangerous nonsense” on number plates and speed limits for cyclists

It’s not often cycling makes the front pages...

With clearly nothing else in his inbox the transport secretary decided to call for speed limits to be extended to bicycles and for cyclists to be required to carry registration plates, an idea he later rolled back on in a subsequent interview.

By then though the damage had been done as his comments triggered a series of cyclist-hating articles in certain sections of the media and on talk radio.

As plenty of people have pointed out the proposals are unworkable and would be counter-productive. They would cost more than they would ever earn and would dramatically reduce cycle usage.

Above all else they ignore the elephant in the room: that it is cars, not bicycles, that present the greatest danger on our roads.

Even the AA President described the proposals as a “retrograde step” and said “What we really need is better infrastructure for cycling.”

Nothing will come of the proposals (that was never the intention) but these words from a government minister will have repercussions.

The news cycle has now moved on but what’s left behind will inevitably, if only incrementally, increase the danger for anyone just trying to get about on two wheels.

The response from cycling groups around the country was unequivocal, with the minister’s words being described as “dangerous nonsense” and “divisive rubbish”.

Richard was interviewed on Radio Norfolk on the topic:

Richard being interviewed on Radio Norfolk (click to listen)

As if we needed reminding, the simple act of riding a bike is now embroiled in the “culture wars”.

Mike Burrows 1943-2022

We are deeply saddened to learn of the death of Mike Burrows, Norwich’s own world-renowned bicycle designer.

Peter writes: “I met him twice, the first time in around 1985 when I bought one of his previous streamliner bikes (minus the shell) and got to visit his tiny workshop where he was building his latest streamliner. I remember telling him it looked like a submarine. He swiftly corrected me by saying it was actually inspired by the shape of a whale.”

“The second time was in March this year when he came to the rain-soaked Norwich Bike Jumble and briefly came over to our stall. He muttered something – almost in self-reproach – about not needing any more bike bits!”

Mike Burrows with one of his many amazing bicycles – Photo bikefix.co.uk

You can read a summary of his life and achievements here: Mike Burrows was much more than just a legendary bicycle designer - CyclingTips

RIP Mike.

And finally

The car replacement bicycle (click to watch video)

Cargo bikes have been around for a long time and you probably think you know what they are but as this latest video from NotJustBikes explains there’s a lot more to them than you thought!

Lucky is the child whose parents took them everywhere in a cargo bike rather than the back seat of a car.

The advent of electric motors is what makes these bikes feasible as a car replacement and he makes a compelling case for them being “the most important vehicles of the 21st century”.

We’re starting to see this in Norwich with more cargo bikes being used for deliveries and for private use.

As ever though, “it’s the infrastructure, stupid”. Most people will only feel safe riding with their kids if the streets are safe enough with wide, protected lanes for bikes.

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The Norwich Cycling Campaign can be contacted here

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