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OPINION: We need more cycle lanes in Norfolk

PUBLISHED: 06:00 09 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:15 09 August 2017

Cyclists enjoying riding around the Holkham Estate for the Pedal Norfolk Cycling Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Cyclists enjoying riding around the Holkham Estate for the Pedal Norfolk Cycling Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Copyright: Archant 2017

Cycling is so much more preferable to driving, I wrote in my last column.

Andrew Papworth on a bike. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTHAndrew Papworth on a bike. Picture: ANDREW PAPWORTH

The very next day however, I unceremoniously came clattering off my bike.

Don’t worry, I’m not going to blame motorists for my woes. This was entirely my fault. Riding along the A1066 Mundford Road in Thetford, I thought I’d get out of the path of cars by going onto what I thought was a cycle path.

It was actually a pavement and I came crashing down after essentially riding into a kerb. My own stupid (very stupid) mistake - and one I luckily escaped from with just a few scuffs and a sore arm, no broken bones.

But if you thought my painful experience would lead me in this column to make wholesale conversion to driving, then think again.

Cyclists enjoying riding around the Holkham Estate for the Pedal Norfolk Cycling Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYCyclists enjoying riding around the Holkham Estate for the Pedal Norfolk Cycling Festival. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

If anything my crash, while it was painful and alerted me even more to the risks of cycling, has emboldened me to keep pedalling.

Like anything, cycling is not risk free - but having to take a break from it due to my injuries has only heightened my awareness of the benefits. Fresh air, general health and wellbeing, less stress - you don’t get any of those in a car these days.

Sadly though many people, possibly even some reading this article, don’t see it the same way.

I don’t think you can really blame them. Of course, there will always be some people who don’t like getting hot and sweaty and prefer a car journey, even if it does mean sitting in traffic.

The problem is that for many, cycling is just not a practical alternative.

Sure, in some towns and cities - like my homeland of Cambridge, where cycling is very well catered for - many people see it as an attractive option that is often quicker than going by car.

The trouble is that the provision of cycle lanes, particularly in Norfolk, is patchy at best.

They may be good in individual towns and cities, but the links to outer-lying villages can be non-existent. A lot of the time it simply isn’t safe to be cycling on fast roads.

If we therefore want more people to cycle and cut congestion, we need to upgrade the infrastructure and create more cycle lanes to make it safe to do so. Then cycling would become a viable alternative.

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