Newsletter

October 2022

Kidical Mass ride through the city

Kidical Mass ride through the city – Photo Peter

Autumn is here and the mornings have a definite chill to them. Don’t forget your gloves and scarf when heading out on your bike!

The new-look St Stephens Street is now open, and we have some serious concerns. The safety audit recomended it be redesigned as it was unfit for purpose, and now it's built Martin Wilby is advising cyclists to find an alternative route. That's £6.1m well spent then!

Kidical Mass came to the city's streets for the second time this year. The imminent threat of rain didn’t deter over 60 people from taking part in this family ride.

We’ve had a busy year taking our stall to numerous events. Our final event was the Norwich Peace Camp in the Forum.

Our monthly social ride took us to Drayton on the Marriott’s Way. We saw the improvements to the route but more still needs to be done to enable all-year-round cycling.

The day after the Kidical Mass ride was Norfolk Car-Free Day. There’s a full report of the day’s events.

It’s our AGM next month. This will be our first in-person meeting for some time and we’re delighted to announce our guest speaker will be Robin Heydon, chair of Cambridge Cycling Campaign. It’s bound to be a fascinating talk. Do come along.

It's also that time of year when we ask you to renew your membership. Without your supoort we wouldn't be able to do what we do.

Derek takes a look at the recent changes to the St Stephens Road junction with Grove Road – and yes there’s a video of course!

On the western edge of the city there's news about the plans for the A47 Longwater junction.

The parklet in Upper St Giles Street has been removed, essentially because space for parking cars is more important than space for people.

Work has finally started on Heartsease Lane but rather than the cycle lanes Norfolk County Council bid for we’re only getting a new crossing. Is NCC serious about cycling?

The concrete barriers on the path alongside St Crispins Road bridge have finally been removed and the path is now returned to its full width.

Peter was disconcerted to find the cycle racks outside the entrance to Sainsbury's at Longwater had suddenly disappeared. Sainsbury’s clearly think their customers don’t arrive by bike.

To whet your appetite for the AGM we have a video on cycling in Cambridge. There’s a reason why Cambridge is known as the country’s cycling capital – bold political decisions were taken to tame the car and build infrastructure for people on bikes.

Buses return to St Stephens Street – but cyclists are advised to choose "more appropriate" routes

If you can't see the driver's wing mirror, he can't see you – Photo Derek

The new-look St Stephens Street with its "sawtooth" bus bays has opened and we have serious concerns for the safety of cyclists riding along the street. Because of the design of the new bus bays the drivers can't see a cyclist approaching from behind and it isn't possible to give the buses a wide berth because the road is so narrow.

We expressed these concerns during the consultation phase but they were ignored.

Norwich Evening News reported on the new bus bays including quotes from the cycling campaign as well a response from Councillor Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, transport and infrastructure. We strongly take issue with Councillor Wilby on this.

When questioned on the dangers of the new layout he is quoted as saying: “Whilst the scheme does include additional facilities for cycle parking, the wider improvements in this area are primarily focused on pedestrians and public transport.”

That’s not what Norfolk County Council said when they bid for the money. The £6.1m scheme was to “improve bus stop infrastructure, pedestrian, cycle and public realm facilities through the busy heart of the city centre”.

Councillor Wilby goes on to say: "No increased risk to cyclists has been identified through the design or safety audit process or in other areas of the country where saw tooth arrangements have successfully been in place for a number of years.”

The safety audit however is as clear as it is damning. The auditors raised safety concerns about the “dominance” of full-size buses in the area and recommended that the design be reconsidered “to safeguard the needs of the most vulnerable road users”.

One of the “successful” examples cited by Norfolk County Council is St Andrews Street in Cambridge, but this is an entirely different design. It has only one bus bay at a time, buses are only set back half the bus width (i.e. at a less acute angle) and, crucially, only on one side of the road. It’s difficult to see what bearing this has on St Stephens Street.

Lastly, Councillor Wilby says St Stephens Street “is a busy area so it may be preferable for some cyclists to choose to use the quieter and more appropriate designated pedalway routes."

So a multi-million pound scheme which has “improving cycle facilities” in its remit is so poor that cyclists are advised to take another route?

Is Councillor Wilby also aware that Norfolk County Council’s strategic plan for the Pedalways cycle network includes re-routing the busy Blue Pedalway along St Stephens Street?

It’s not so much a case of the left hand not knowing what the right hand is doing as of them being physically detached from each other.

Kidical Mass ride

After the glorious weather for the inaugural Kidical Mass ride in May the organisers of its second outing were eyeing the ominous dark sky with some trepidation. They needn’t have worried though. The weather stayed dry for the duration and over 60 people joined the ride through the city centre.

Our stall

Riders gather at the start of the Kidical Mass ride – Photo Derek

Ironically the traffic was especially horrendous with queues of cars blocking much of the city centre. A quick on-the-hoof change to the route prevented the riders getting stuck in traffic. Another fabulous ride ensured that Kidical Mass is now firmly established in the Norwich calendar!

You can read Peter’s report (+ video) here: Rain fails to dampen second Norwich Kidical Mass ride

Norwich Peace Camp

We had a stall at the Norwich Peace Camp in the Forum. It was great to meet a wide range of people and hear about the issues that prevent them from cycling (or cycling where they want to get to) – a sadly familiar story of a lack of safe cycle routes.

The Lord Mayor of Norwich at the cycling campaign stall – Photo Derek

Flagged off by the Lord Mayor of Norwich a group of riders set off on a "Peace Cycle" around the city which took in the newly opened St Stephens Street (see below).

We extend our thanks to the Peace Camp organisers for inviting us and for making us feel so welcome.

Social rides

Next ride – to Keswick via Eaton village
Sunday 16th October
Meet 11.00am outside John Lewis on All Saints Green

For our sixth and final social ride of the year we’ll be heading out on the Blue Pedalway to Eaton village where we'll take a surprisingly rural route past Eaton Common to the old mill before making our way to Keswick.

 

Our return journey will take us down Hall Road and then along the Lakenham Way back to the city centre.

Due to the lack of suitable refreshment stops on the way they'll be an opportunity to retire to a cafe after the ride for a well-earned coffee and cake.

Last month's ride

An unexpected change in the weather coupled with it being a hastily arranged Bank Holiday weekend for the Queen's funeral inevitably contributed to a low turnout. In the event five of us rode out along the Marriott’s Way to Drayton.

This is an increasingly popular leisure and commuter route, especially since the surface was improved and the crossing of Hellesdon Road was realigned and upgraded to a parallel crossing. Small changes in themselves but these all add up to making the journey safer and more pleasant.

A wet Tony

Stopping at the old Hellesdon station – Photo Peter

Perversely the surfacing at one of the worst stretches of the route just after the A-frame bridge on the approach to Drayton has been left as it is. Not too much of an issue in dry weather perhaps but once the rainy weather sets in this will return to being a muddy quagmire. Hopefully this will be rectified so the route can be used all year round without needing a change of clothing after every ride.

Car-free day in Norwich - play streets and parklets

The day after the Kidical Mass ride was Norfolk Car-Free Day which saw several streets in Norwich temporarily turned into Play Streets where children could run around with their friends, playing games without their parents fearing for their safety.

Matt White of Car-Free Norwich who was one of the organisers of the event said: “It never gets old seeing children tentatively leave their homes, gazing open-jawed at the fun going on outside, before joyfully throwing themselves into it too.”

Children playing on the Highland Road Play Street – Photo Tom Barrett

The event also coincided with the first Pop up Parklets Day which encourages residents to create small communal areas where neighbours can relax and have a chat in the space normally occupied by parked cars.

You can read Matt’s report on the day’s events here: Norwich goes car-free for a day

Annual General Meeting

Our AGM takes place on Tuesday 22nd November in St Augustine’s Church Hall. 6:30pm for 7pm start. Refreshments will be provided.

They'll be brief reports on the campaign's activities this year and we’ll be seeking nominations for all committee roles for the coming year so if you feel like getting more involved or would like to find out more please contact the Membership Secretary.

Robin Heydon, chair of Cambridge Cycling Campaign – Photo Camcycle

Our guest speaker will be Robin Heydon, chair of Cambridge Cycling Campaign. Robin has seen the campaign through an exciting stage of its development, going from a volunteer organisation to the current situation of employing four permanent members of staff. We look forward to learning from one of the UK’s leading cycling campaigns.

Membership renewal

The campaign is nothing without its members.

Your support this year has enabled us to invest in new promotional material (flags, banners etc.) which we've used to good effect at events – ten so far this year! – promoting the campaign's message which in turn generates more support. We couldn't do any of this without you.

We're asking for £10 or, if for whatever reason you are unable to pay the full rate, a reduced rate of £3.50. You can pay by bank transfer (BACS) or via PayPal.

 

Please go to the link on our website here. Thank you.

Grove Road crossing re-opens - with a big problem

Grove Road crossing brick wall

Where to go? The new crossing over Newmarket Road – Photo Derek

 

After months of disruption caused by the building works, the new crossing of Newmarket and Ipswich Roads on the Orange Pedalway is now open.

 

It is an improvement over the previous arrangement, especially at Grove Road where we have the best - albeit very short - section of proper segregated cycle track in the city.

There are some issues to do with missing road markings which we hope will be addressed shortly as well as a lack of direction signage. This is most acute on the Newmarket Road side of the crossing, where riders face a brick wall with no indication of where to go. Although this is as it was before the works, the new markings make something else very clear, you can't legally cycle to the left or right.

 

Because of the new clear markings, it has come to light that the short 10m section of pavement between the crossing and the entrance to Fellowes Plain has never been a cycle track, you're supposed to dismount and push your bike. Seriously, you couldn't make this up.

We have a close look at all of this on our website New crossing opens at Grove Road
which includes a ride-through video.

Longwater update

The nightmare of Longwater – Photo Google Street View

The Longwater interchange with the A47, together with the nearby William Frost Way, is a serious barrier to cycling to the west of the city. The junction itself it due to be improved with a terribly substandard scheme which includes a "cyclist dismount" section over the junction bridge.

 

We can now show that Norfolk County Council is building a scheme they know to be substandard (and therefore dangerous) for the use it will be put to. Read more here: Longwater junction update

 

You can read the full story of the junction and the whole mess of the Longwater area here and information about the proposed scheme here.

Beryl parklet in Upper St Giles Street removed

Eyebrows were raised when it was announced that the delightful and popular parklet on Upper St Giles Street, which also serves as a Beryl bay, would be removed. The initial statement from Beryl simply said it was being removed due to “unforeseen circumstances".

This did seem an odd decision. The parklet provided outdoor seating for the nearby cafe as well as an attractive plant display. Since its removal the space is now used as car parking.

A photo I took in July 2020 actually ending up being used in a government publication on decarbonising transport (see p.12).

How the parklet in Upper St Giles Street used to look – Photo Peter

When approached for comment Beryl said that “when concerns were raised by emergency services about vehicle access, Beryl and Norfolk County Council agreed to remove the parklet as quickly as possible.”

A spokesperson for the company later confirmed that the fire service said they “couldn’t fit a fire engine through if there were cars parked on the opposite side of the road". The parklet did extend slightly over the white line marking the former parking bay, and in a choice between keeping the parklet and keeping car parking it was the parklet that “lost out”.

The space is now used for car parking – Photo Peter

Hopefully a solution can be found which sees the return of the parklet. Beryl said they were working with Norfolk County Council “to identify alternative locations for the bay and parklet".

Heartsease Lane - we got money for cycle lanes but instead got...a lamppost!

At the height of the pandemic when the government was encouraging local authorities to build pop-up cycle lanes and introduce other measures to enable more people to take up walking and cycling Norfolk County bid for money to build cycle lanes.

One of the schemes was to build protected cycle lanes along Heartsease Lane between the Plumstead Road roundabout and the junction with Rider Haggard Road. This would have been really useful since they would link up with the existing cycle path on Heartsease Lane and the recently built cycle lanes on St Williams Way thus providing a continuous protected cycle path along this busy road.

Unfortunately when the plans went out to consultation the cycle lanes had mysteriously disappeared and all that was left was the upgraded crossing on Heartsease Lane.

A lamppost where it shouldn't be – Photo Peter

The works unwittingly made the news when a photograph of a lamppost in the middle of the cycle lane did the rounds on Twitter and was picked up on local news outlets.

Peter was interviewed on BBC Radio Norfolk and took the opportunity to highlight how the failure to build the cycle lanes not only means a missed opportunity to provide much-needed protected cycle infrastructure along Hearsease Lane but also that Norfolk has lost out when bidding for further funds to get more people cycling.

Peter being interviewed on Radio Norfolk (click to listen)

St Crispins Road bridge barriers now repaired

A fatal car crash in February resulted in the barriers on the approach to the St Crispins Road bridge being extensively damaged. Temporary concrete barriers were placed in the cycle path causing a bottleneck on this busy path which is near the start of the Marriott’s Way.

The barriers have finally been replaced and the path is now returned to its full width.

Riding along the now-restored path – Photo Peter

Talking of bottlenecks, the light-controlled crossing on St Crispins Road which carries the Red Pedalway (as well as National Cycle Route 1) is one of the busiest cycle crossings in the city. It needs bringing up to current design standards with a proper parallel crossing similar to the one recently installed on Chapelfield Road.

Sainsbury's remove cycle parking outside Longwater store

Anyone hoping to do their shopping by bike at Sainsbury’s Longwater store is going to be disappointed. The cycle racks next to the entrance have suddenly disappeared and in their place is a parcel collection cabinet.

You have to look very closely to see where the cycle racks have been sawn off at ground level. All that remains to indicate this is where six bike racks once stood is the cycle parking sign on the wall.

Where the cycle parking used to be – Photo Peter

When questioned on this, staff in the store said they thought that replacement stands were being provided at the far side of the car park!

A query to their Twitter account elicited a swift response. I was told they had “fed this back for internal review, hopefully we can get some replacement parking set up ASAP.”

Nothing happened so I chased this up a few days later only to be told: “Please be assured that this is being looked into internally. Unfortunately we wouldn't be able to provide info on the outcome.” A further enquiry as to who I was supposed to contact for an update drew a blank.

We’re now a month later and still nothing has been done.

What the cycle parking used to look like – Photo Google Street View

Further queries in store proved equally fruitless. Sainsbury’s clearly don’t consider anyone who shops by bike as important. Individual staff have been courteous and understanding but at the time of writing I am still awaiting a response from the store manager.

Earlham Road – where's our wand?

One of the wands protecting the mandatory cycle lane on Earlham Road was knocked over in mid-June. Despite several assurances that this would be fixed here we are nearly four months later and the wand is still missing.

As a certain children’s cartoon character might ask: “Where’s our wand?”

Wally wants to know: "Where's our wand?" – Photo Peter

And finally

Cambridge: Britain's cycling capital (click to watch video)

Everyone knows that Cambridge is the UK’s leading cycling city, which is why we’re especially delighted to have the chair of Cambridge Cycling Campaign as the guest speaker at our AGM (see above).

There’s no substitute for visiting the city yourself but the next best thing is to watch this video from US film-maker Clarence Eckerson (producer of the excellent Streetfilms series).

This short film is a few years old now and doesn’t include recent changes such as the Chisholm Trail and the Abbey-Chesterton bridge but it gives you a real flavour of how Cambridge embraces the bicycle as a means of everyday transport.

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The Norwich Cycling Campaign can be contacted here

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