Newsletter

December 2022

Lucy the "human bollard" on Exchange Street - Photo attributed

Winter is here, a great time of year if you like it cold and dark, but on the bright side it's no longer too early to mention that Christmas is just around the corner!

 

It's been an amazing year for the campaign as we emerged blinking in the sunshine from our Covid isolation. We had a year of stalls, cycle rides and press reports all topped off with a successful AGM.

 

We're pleased to present a review of the year and to also give thanks to the people behind Kidical Mass and Car-Free Norwich for creating the sort of activism we're happy to help with. We have not only a full summary of the year for you to digest but also a short video of some of the highlights.

We have been given a problem with the substandard plans just announced by Norfolk County Council for Heartsease roundabout and would like to ask for your help to oppose them.

 

But we have better news about Exchange Street, in no small part thanks to our human bollard Lucy.

 

On the subject of the cold, dark nights, we have some advice for how to stay well lit and within the law when riding your bike. We also take a look at how the Dutch ensure people don't cycle in the dark.

 

We also have good news about the traffic lights at the train station, a demonstration of what can be achieved by dealing directly with the people concerned.

 

There is also more good news about the crossing at Rider Haggard Road on Heartsease Lane, it's just a pity the cycle lanes to the roundabout were dropped, despite the council having made a successful bid for the funding of them.

There's been some activity on the King Street kerb but not in a good way and on Earlham Road we've noticed yet another wand has vanished, that's two missing now.

 

So all that remains of this introduction is to wish you all a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. Here's to 2023 and even more campaigning for better cycling in Norwich.

Review of the year

It’s been quite a year for the campaign, but it was only when we came to write a review of the year that we realised how much we’d packed in!

A big part of the year has been all the events we’ve attended where we’ve set up our stall. We started inauspiciously enough at a freezing cold and damp Bike Jumble in March but once the weather had warmed up these were a regular feature of the year.

Our stall in Eaton Park in July - Photo Derek

It was inspiring to meet so many people who told a familiar story: “I would cycle but it’s too dangerous on the road”, “I haven’t got anywhere safe to park my bike (at my flat/my work)”.

A reminder, if we needed one, of why we work to make riding a bike the best option for getting about the city.

We all know that more people cycling is a good thing - less air pollution, less congestion, less road danger - but these aren’t the reasons usually given for why people choose to ride a bike. It has to be easy, be cheap, be convenient and be safe, but most of all it has to be fun!

Join us as we look back at 12 months of ups and downs: 2022 - the year in review

If you've only got 5 minutes to spare there's also a short video summary of the year.

Video summary of 2022

A short video summary of the events of 2022

AGM report

What better way to round off a busy year for the campaign than to make the AGM our first in-person meeting for nearly two years. Would people turn up? We needn’t have worried as over 35 people came to the event at St Augustine’s Church Hall.

Robin Heydon from Camcycle talking at the AGM - Photo Matt Green

Outgoing chair Richard Bearman gave a summary of the year’s activities and we finished the evening off with an inspiring talk by Robin Heydon from our neighbours the Cambridge Cycling Campaign.

You can read a report here: 2022 AGM report

Heartsease roundabout

The Heartsease roundabout - Photo Derek

 

We had expected things to begin to wind down for the Christmas period about now, but Norfolk County Council had other ideas.

 

We've been waiting for the plans to improve the Heartsease roundabout for a couple of years, and they were finally published last week. To describe them as disappointing is an understatement.

If you're not familiar with the location, the roundabout is on the outer ring road where it crosses Plumstead Road. Harvey Lane, another busy road also joins here. The situation is a chaotic, dangerous traffic mess surrounded by large suburbs, junior schools, a supermarket with a large car park and much more besides. It's a textbook example of unplanned development.

A really dangerous place to cycle - Photo Derek

 

The cyclist and pedestrian accident record here is bad and the council accepts there is a long-standing need to improve conditions for both.

 

We had been led to believe this would become the location of Norfolk's first Dutch-style roundabout, a tried and tested design from the Netherlands, one of which has been in operation for over two years in Cambridge.

Instead, yet again we get a third-rate cut-down version with narrow shared-use pavements and potentially dangerous pedestrian/cycle crossings, issued without any consultation with us as stakeholders and seemingly being rushed through over the Christmas period.

The council claims the reason they can't build a proper Dutch design here is that it will cause unacceptable delays for drivers, which as usual they consider to be a higher priority than pedestrian and cyclist safety. They also claim there isn't enough space, and we accept the space is limited but what they don't mention is that three sides of the roundabout are given over to car parking.

The car parks around the roundabout (shown in purple) not shown on the council's plans or mentioned in the consultation (click for larger version)

 

You can complete the council survey here, but to be polite, it's very shallow and avoids the issues we would like to comment on. There is a text box at the end where you can make comments but it's really not good enough.

 

Because of this we would like to ask everyone to respond to the consultation by rejecting the scheme and we would like you to do so by e-mail to transportfornorwich@norfolk.gov.uk

 

You can read the full sorry tale here: Third-rate proposals for the Heartsease roundabout

 

Norwich Evening News and the EDP also reported our objections.

 

Footnote: Norfolk County council applied for and won funding to build cycle lanes from the roundabout to the crossing near Rider Haggard Road but decided not to build them because it would have disrupted on-street parking on the busy ring road.

Exchange Street

Exchange Street is now open to people - Photo Derek

The ongoing flagrant disregard by drivers for the vehicle restriction on Exchange Street came to a head last month when Lucy Hall (Bicycle Links founder and cycling campaign member) decided enough was enough and stood in what is supposed to be the pedestrian and cycle zone to prevent drivers illegally using the street.

A video of her being manhandled by a police officer went viral and the ensuing bad publicity finally forced Norfolk County Council to commit to resolving the issue.

You can read a summary of what happened here: Drivers continue to flout Exchange Street pedestrian and cycle zone

Since the article was published the promised marshalls (along with plastic barriers across the top of Gaol Hill and the entrance to Exchange Street) have had a dramatic effect with virtually no traffic using the street.

Drivers illegally entering Exchange Street - Photo Peter

We’ve been told that the marshalls’ last day is this Sunday and we therefore expect the monitoring cameras to be put in place on Monday to see whether there is any long-term change in driver behaviour. This is clearly going to rumble on for quite a while.

An eagle-eyed Liam Calvert of Car-Free Norwich also noticed that the updated Traffic Regulation Order (TRO) specified that contra-flow cycling on Exchange Street was permitted. This is something that the cycling campaign had been told was the case when the restrictions were put in place (and was re-confirmed to us at a recent meeting). All that’s needed is some signs to formalise this, which Liam has requested.

There are long-term plans to develop the area both with the Connecting the Lanes project and the recently announced Levelling Up Fund so hopefully the whole issue of Exchange Street will be resolved once and for all and the area can become what it should be: a place for people – to walk, wheel and cycle (and watch the world go by).

Station traffic lights

The traffic lights by the station - Photo Derek

Following our highlighting of the near misses and actual accidents at the newly re-modelled junction next to the station, we're pleased to report progress.


Norfolk County Council are to change the phasing of the lights to stop the conflict caused by turning traffic not giving way to cycles crossing from Thorpe Road to Foundry bridge.

We don't know when this will happen - if it hasn't already - but it will be soon. We would like to thank Norfolk County Council for their swift response to this issue.

Bike lights - what's the law?

The biggest danger we face on the roads is from motor traffic, especially cars. We all know that some drivers are distracted or are just not paying attention for whatever reason.

 

First let's get the law out of the way: Rule 60 of the Highway Code says:

At night your cycle MUST have white front and red rear lights lit. It MUST also be fitted with a red rear reflector and amber pedal reflectors*

 

Riding a bike without lights, especially wearing dark clothes, isn't good for you health, this is all about self-defence rather than just obeying the law.

 

So apart from the legal minimum, what else can you do to catch the attention of distracted drivers?

 

A very simple, cheap thing is to fit reflectors. They come in white (for the front) and red (for the back) and do a pretty good job in reflecting headlights back to the drivers and they're free to use.

 

Be careful to mount your lights and reflectors properly, either on the centre line of the bike or on the right-hand (offside) side, never put them on the left (kerb side) and be careful to ensure the rear light especially isn't covered by a low hanging coat or by a bag on your rear rack.

 

The most effective lights either flash or move because that is best way of grabbing the attention of drivers. This is why pedal reflectors are so effective. Most bike lights have a flashing mode now, so use that rather than the always-on mode. They used to be illegal, but the law was changed recently to allow them. Flashing lights also use less battery power.

Don't try riding on a dark road with a flashing front light though, you'll soon understand why if you try it.

Another part of the bike that moves is the wheels and reflectors that clip onto your spokes are good for making you visible at junctions or when you turn across the flow of traffic. If you want to go the whole hog you can buy lights that clip onto the spokes.

Cycling UK has a really good article that's worth a read.

 

* The amber pedal reflectors are only a legal requirement for bikes made after 1985.

Heartsease Lane crossing

The new parallel light-controlled crossing on Heartsease Lane is now fully open. It’s disappointing we didn't get the cycle lanes Norfolk County Council got money for (especially bearing in mind the planned works at the Heartsease roundabout) but the new crossing has greater capacity and will give improved access on the Pink Pedalway to Valley Drive.

Riders using the new crossing on Heartsease Lane - Photo Peter

King Street kerb

After the failed attempt to resolve the issue last month we were told that a temporary asphalt fillet would be provided (until the kerb can be relaid properly at a later date).

Instead, someone has slapped down some cement next to the kerb, most likely to aid access to the building site, and which doesn't even cover the full width of the entrance to the cycle path.

We'll let the picture tell its own story.

Kerb on King Street at the entrance to the cycle path - Photo Peter

Earlham Road wand(s) - two’s company

The Earlham Road wand is still conspicuous by its absence after six months. We raised this issue in person when we met officers last month. We were told there had been supply issues during the height of the pandemic but it still remains a mystery why it is taking so long to replace.

Big news this month is that the wand knocked over in the summer has been joined by a second wand, this time on the city-bound side of the road. This has also been reported and we have been assured it will be replaced. William Hill are currently offering good odds if you get down there quick.

Where the wand on the city-bound cycle lane used to be - Photo Peter

A reminder about membership

Thank you if you've recently rejoined. If you haven’t already renewed your membership please do so and if you’re not a member please do consider joining. 

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.

Just click the image above and fill in the form. Thank you.

And finally

As we’ve seen, it’s important that you have lights on your bike during these long winter evenings.

So, how do the Dutch ensure that everyone has lit up? The latest video from the excellent Mark Wagenbuur (AKA @BicycleDutch) shows one way.

Bicycle Lights Parade in The Hague (click to watch video)

Maybe something Norwich City Council could consider organising for next Christmas?

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Contacting us

The Norwich Cycling Campaign can be contacted here

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