The Pedalways network
Norwich has a network of cycle-friendly routes known as “Pedalways”. The stated aim of the Pedalways project was to encourage novice riders to take to bikes by providing a less threatening riding environment. The intention is good, but in truth they are best considered to be a work in progress.
This page looks at the state of the Pedalways network, is it safe to use? Would you be happy with your child riding it alone?
The Pedalways mostly follow low-traffic roads, or if the traffic is busy, traffic calming is used. This usually takes the form of humps and speed tables, with a 20mph (30kmph) speed limit although there are exceptions to this where very much higher traffic speeds are allowed and some that are downright dangerous.
There are also off-road cycle tracks, although the vast majority are shared-use pavements which makes cycling difficult and slow, pedestrians and cyclists dislike them and understandably many riders refuse to use them. There are a few sections of really good totally off-road sections along abandoned railways or roads closed to traffic and a few sections of properly segregated cycle tracks.
In summary, there are some really good sections, but most of the Pedalways are OK-ish but some sections are barely usable, with a few being little more than cycle routes on paper following roads with high levels of traffic and no provision for cycles at all.
The biggest overall problem is the lack of signage or even any proper “branding” for the key cycle routes. It’s a fair bet that most people in Norwich don’t even know they exist.
There are five radial routes into the city known by different colours:
- Southern section from the University Technical College (UTC) on Hall Road via Lakenham Way or Hall Road to the city
- Northern section from the Aviation Academy via Catton Grove to the city
- Southern section from Wymondham via Cringleford and Eaton to the city
- Northern section from Barkers Lane via Sprowston and Constitution Hill to the city
- Southern section from the N&NU Hospital via the UEA to the city
- Northern section from Harrisons Wood on Salhouse Road via Heartsease and Mousehold Heath
- Western section from the Bowthorpe Centre via Earlham Road to the city
- Eastern section from “the Plumsteads” to the city via Harvey Lane.
Red (NCN 1)
Sustrans National Cycle Route 1 (NCR1), the long distance cycle route via Whitlingham Country Park in the east through the city to the Marriotts Way in the west
The Red Pedalway (NCR 1) ride-through video and route description
In addition there are two circular routes around the city:
- The inner circle
- The outer circle
The Blue Pedalway
Download the official Pedalways map from the Norwich City Council website (pdf download)
Report a problem with any of the Pedalways (potholes, obstructions etc.) to Norfolk County Council here.
Explore the cycle network of Norwich with an on-line route mapping tool.
Longwater and the A47 junction
The Longwater area is west of New Costessey on Dereham Road. It’s where the A47 southern bypass crosses the Dereham Road built in 1992. Next to this is a large out of town shopping centre built in 1996 and since enlarged. This whole area was built for motor transport, with partial cycle infrastructure, dangerous roads, terrible crossings and vast windswept car parks. All this is surrounded by ever growing suburbs and despite the bad provision, a lot of people cycle to the shops and through the junction.
So why is it so bad and what can be done to improve it? It’s a big story.
Crossing the Longwater junction
Longwater – the history, a tale of unplanned development
What the junction is like now
The 2014 plans
Cycling through Longwater
News coverage on our blog
20th June 2022: Plans for the junction are announced.
Dangerous plans for Longwater that ignore cycling
3rd October 2022: The safety audit reveals the dangers of the proposed crossing.
Longwater junction update
6th February 2023: We release our proposals for the junction.
Our proposals for the Longwater junction
4th March 2023: Longwater – What’s wrong with what’s being proposed
Longwater – What’s wrong with what’s being proposed – Norwich Cycling Campaign
Bowthorpe to Ringland Lane via Longwater
The Green Padalway south runs from the city to the Bowthorpe Centre, but it actually goes a bit further and there’s an (almost) continuous off road cycle route all the way to the Longwater shopping centre and beyond that, through Queens Hills, to Ringland Lane and the beautiful Wensum valley.
Cycling lowlights of Norwich
Grapes Hill roundabout
The busy Grapes Hill roundabout has been through months of disruptive roadworks in order to remove two sets of traffic lights from the roundabout. Because this has removed some cycling infrastructure which enabled cyclists to ride across the roundabout, new shared use pavements have been created.
There are two routes – one from Unthank Road and the other from Earlham Road to the greatly improved cycle crossing on Chapelfield Road.
The Unthank Road route is something that’s been a missing link for the past 50 years, since the roundabout was built. As such it is likely to become very well used.
The problem is they are all shared use pavements, the Unthank route in particular is already well used by pedestrians.
The aim of the scheme was to increase the traffic flow through the roundabout and all other means of travel – cycling and walking – have been fitted into the available space. The whole project falls well below the national standards laid out in the guidelines known as LTN 1/20,
Grapes Hill roundabout critique – includes a video ride-through. November 2021
The Pink Pedalway extension along Salhouse Road
At present the Pink Pedalway ends just beyond the Heartsease estate on the Salhouse Road on what was until recently the north eastern edge of the city at Harrison’s Wood. Over the past two or three years large new housing estates have started to appear beyond the woodland.
Atlantic Way is pretty much complete and has a good quality, albeit shared use path, running all the way to the Wroxham Road.
Plans are being drawn up to extend the Pink Pedalway all the way out to Wroxham, following the Salhouse Road across the NDR.
In the meantime, a new housing estate is rising from the fields along the Salhouse road beyond Atlantic Way and a new section of shared use cycle path is being constructed as a part of that development and will presumably form a part of the route to Wroxham eventually.
This video is a preview of the new route and a look at the section between the end of the Pink Pedalway and Atlantic way, followed by the missing link through Harrison’s Wood.
The new section of cycle route contains a huge problem in the form of a nail house, a problem which is yet to be resolved. Plans exist for the route through the woodland, but there is no date for construction yet.
This was recorded in July 2021, when Salhouse Road was still unusually quiet following the covid-19 lockdowns. Usually this section of road is swamped by heavy, fast traffic.
Cycling into the city from the east
Tourists doing a cycling holiday around the beautiful countryside east of Norwich may be tempted to ride into the city. If they do, there are basically three options: Either the Green Pedalway, which involves a steep hill, the Thorpe Road, a very busy main road or over the valley and through the lovely Whitlingham Country Park, complete with its broad, that seems the nicest route.
Unfortunately it involves possibly the worst cycle track in the country. Built as a part of the A47 Norwich southern bypass this route is narrow and downright scary. But a surprising number of people do use it, including from time to time family groups with children. It is also used by a number of commuters, people working in County Hall or the Broadland Business Park. There is also the large Dusindale housing estate for which this A47 viaduct provides an important way across the river.
This route has existed for 30 years, it really is time it was upgraded and made safe. The A47 is a trunk road, so the responsibility of central government.
Thorpe Station to Thorpe St Andrew
Green and Orange Pedalways
This is an unavoidable hill if you want to get from the station to Thorpe St Andrew and it’s not an inconsiderable climb.
Cringleford to Eaton
Blue and part Purple Pedalways
Most of the southern section of the Blue Pedalways from Wymondham to the city is on off road shared use pavements, mostly of a fair standard, although some side road crossings and the section into Wymondham leave a lot to be desired.
However, the section from Cringleford through Eaton is not good, being on a road which carries a lot of traffic.
At Eaton village, the Purple Pedalway turns right, but the Blue Pedalway slims the hill toward the A11 on the most dangerous of ways.
Is this safe for a couple of kids to ride?
This was recorded during the second Covid lockdown in April 2021 when traffic levels were very low and the kids were supervised throughout.
The well guarded minature cycle ways of Dusindale
Dusindale is a large housing estate on the east of the city which has segregated cycle tracks. However, they are far too narrow and are blocked by insane barriers seemingly designed to keep cycles off. It would be impossible to get a cargo bike on these.
They also run around the back of the houses, which means they are pretty much useless for the people who actually live there.
The missing link at Cringleford
The actual route of the Blue Pedalways runs on the north side of the A11 and crosses at the Colney Lane overbridge. However, there is now a large housing estate being built on the south side which connects to the Blue Pedalway via a light controlled crossing but also seemingly in the city bound direction via a shared use pavement along the south side. However, this is not complete.
The missing link on Marriotts way opened
Red and Purple Pedalways
The section between Hellesdon Road and Gunton Lane officially took a detour here, although most people following the Marriotts Way followed an unofficial muddy track through the woodlands.
This was finally completed almost 30 years after the Marriotts Way opened.
The now removed light controlled crossing in Tombland
During 2020/21 works funded by a Transforming Cities grant to Norfolk County Council, in part to improve access by cycle, resulted in the removal of a light controlled crossing in Tombland between Princes Street and the Tombland cycle track.
This video was shot during the first covid-19 lockdown of 2020 when there was virtually no traffic on the roads, but it shows how it worked. It’s now very much harder and dangerous to get across here.
Pink, Green and Red Pedalways
As the last section of the route before the UEA, The Avenues is most likely the busiest cycling street in the city, indeed in the whole Norfolk. Not only large number of people on bikes use it, but also has a high density of motorised traffic, specially at peak times.
After a long period of consultations and several proposals, a plan was announced which feature two dedicated hybrid cycle tracks at each side of the road, and it had the potential to become a showcase scheme and study case for future projects.
But it was not to be. At the last moment and without any public consultation, the scheme was dropped, and something very different was produced.