‘Improving the A47’: our response

“Improving the A47” consultation March/April 2017

Norwich Cycling Campaign welcomes the opportunity for cyclists to be involved in the early planning of these schemes.

On all three schemes that we comment on here, our aim is to highlight opportunities to maintain and improve access and connectivity for non- motorised and local traffic as part of this strategic road improvement. If this dimension of accessibility is included at this stage of the plans, we believe that the results will be better for the local community, increase commuting and leisure journeys by alternative means to the car, improve ‘green’ tourism, reduce congestion and represent a very small proportion of the overall cost.

We would like to highlight some recent documents from Highways England: –

Highways England – Cycling Strategy our approach 2016
This document commits Highways England to design and implement an integrated, comprehensive and high quality cycling network; safe and separate from traffic. An investment of £100 million of ring-fenced funding in 200 schemes is promised by 2021. We welcome the opportunity to apply the strategy outlined in these documents on provision for cyclists in this section of the strategic road network.

Highways England – Interim Advice note 195/16 Cycle Traffic and the Strategic Road Network Oct 1916

This advice note sets out guidance for planners and designers which is relevant to the proposals for the A47, in particular:

  • 1.1 “… ensure SRN infrastructures facilitates the convenient and safe movement of cycle traffic crossing or travelling along the SRN …”
  • 2.1.1 “out of corridor cycle routes may be created … through the adoption of or conversion of rights of way …”
  • 2.1.1 “… designers shall plan to acquire land to create the space to accommodate cycle traffic …”
  • 2.1.1 “Cycle networks shall also allow for trips crossing the SRN corridor.”
  • 2.5.1 “Underbridges” This whole section is relevant to the proposal for an underpass beneath the A47 at the Thickthorn roundabout.
  • 2.10.1 Pavement Construction for Cycle Routes. “Unbound surfaces shall not be provided on cycle routes.”

North Tuddenham to Easton Dualling

There are two omissions from the maps in the consultation document:

  1. The existing pedestrian crossing which was supposed to replace Dog Lane when the Easton Bypass was constructed. This crossing is so dangerous that nobody would try to use it. The signs on the A47 warning of pedestrians crossing are misleading.
  2. The minor roads which branch off from the roundabout at the end of the dual carriageway at the western end of the Easton by pass are not shown. These roads include Church Lane, Dog Lane, Low Road, Lodge Road, and Ringland Road, which at present, are not safely accessible to cyclists due to the dangerous roundabout.

At present, there are no safe crossing points on the A47 between North Tuddenham and the New Road underpass near Bowthorpe. The double roundabouts at the Longwater commercial site are intimidating for cyclists and will get more so as traffic increases.

A number of new safe crossing points for cyclists are required including:

  1. The new proposed junction at North Tuddenham.
  2. Low Road at Hockering
  3. B1535
  4. Taverham Road/Blind Lane
  5. The new proposed junction at Easton
  6. An alternative to the double roundabouts at Longwater to give safe access to the commercial site to the north of the A47 and Easton to the south.

Proposals 1, 3 and 4 offer the opportunity to for a cycle way from North Tuddenham, through Hockering and Honingham to Easton. This would give access to the Easton College, the Royal Norfolk Showground and the Longwater commercial estate. This overall scheme would need crossings as above.

In the event that Option 2 is selected, an alternative would be to hard surface Hall Lane (TG 06657 12631), Grange Lane (TG 103411 110110) and Broom Lane (TG 12440 10356) and incorporate them with minor roads to produce a cycleway from North Tuddenham to Easton. This scheme would still need the crossings as above for north south trips.

The Easton Parish Local Development plan, Policy 5, addresses concern about the problems of local connectivity which are relevant to this scheme.

A47/A11 Thickthorn Junction

Outside of these proposals, but of vital importance is the future development of the Hethersett to Norwich cycleway. The Old Newmarket Road between the Thickthorn junction and the Round House roundabout was the scene of a collision in 2015, which resulted in the death of a cyclist some months later. As the inquest has not yet been resumed the exact facts are unknown; however, this tragedy should be kept in mind. There are problems with the Round House roundabout due to the poor sight lines and the speed at which motor vehicles leave the roundabout to enter Round House Way.

The underpass to link Cantley Lane and Cantley Lane South could present a hazard to cyclists – there should be separate cycle paths on each side and the underpass should be well lit. A possible danger is the line and angle of the setting sun in winter – will it dazzle drivers?

Blofield to Burlingham dualling

At present, there are no safe crossing points on the A47 between Blofield and Acle. The dualling proposals 3 and 4 offer the opportunity to create safe crossing points at Lingwood Road/Dell Corner Lane, and as part of the proposed junctions at Blofield and North Burlingham. A crossing at Lingwood Lane would allow cyclists to avoid the B1140 which is used by HGVs heading for Cantley factory during the sugar beet campaign.

It would be possible to incorporate the existing road into a cycle route from Blofield to Great Yarmouth. This would involve creating a short length of cycle way (about 2 km) from the proposed junction at North Burlingham to The Windle incorporating the existing layby. The route would then turn North for about 400 metres then right onto an existing bridleway (Mill Lane) to come out in the centre of Acle. Mill Lane should be surfaced for all weather use. The route could then link with the recently announced cycle way from Acle to Great Yarmouth via Stokesby and West Caister.

Of relevance here is Acle Town Council -Neighbourhood Plan 2014-2016 which states:

Policy 5- encourage new and improved footpaths, footways, cycleways and bridleways connecting Acle with surrounding villages and the countryside, including the improvement of the footway between Norwich Road and Mill Lane/Acle Academy and improved footpath and cycleway adjacent to A1064 between Acle Bridge and the village.