'They don't want to be next to a lorry' - Norwich cycle lanes 'putting off new cyclists'

PUBLISHED: 16:26 17 June 2019 | UPDATED: 16:26 17 June 2019

The finished cycle lanes in the road on The Avenues. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The finished cycle lanes in the road on The Avenues. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY


Painted cycle lanes do not encourage people to take up cycling and risk the safety of existing bike users, a cycling campaign has warned.

The cycle lane on Golden Ball Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEYThe cycle lane on Golden Ball Street. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Richard Jennings, chairman of the Norwich Cycling Campaign, said cycle lanes separated by kerbs were a much safer option.

On Monday, Britain's cycling and walking commissioners warned the government that painted cycle lanes are little more than a "gesture", and do not make cyclists feel safer.

They said there were "no minimum safety standards" for walking and cycling infrastructure, risking wasted money and failed attempts to persuade people to change their travel habits.

Over the last few years, the Transport for Norwich scheme has put in and improved cycle lanes around the city, and made some changes to the transport network with cyclists, pedestrians and public transport users in mind.

But, unsurprisingly, there have been tensions, with calls made to do more to segregate road users.

Mr Jennings said: "It's very easy to only think about people cycling currently, and while for those it may be slightly better, what we have to think about is all the people that don't currently cycle, and don't want to next to a lorry or car.

"Painted cycle lanes don't encourage those people to get out on the road."

In parts of London, where cycle lanes are often segregated, he said people of all ages were able to bike confidently.

He said that enforcement action against drivers using cycle lanes was rare, and said there should be a national standard for the design and operation of the lanes.

"People say that you see cycle lanes with no-one in them," he said, "but it might be because they're dangerous, or not easy to access.

"Until there is a national standard we are potentially spending money on stuff that is not suitable."

He said the cycle lane in Palace Street was often used by queuing drivers, and said, despite being a wide road, the painted lane in Brazengate did not make cyclists feel safe.

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The city's newest cycle lane, on Rose Lane, was completed in the last few weeks and has sections both with and without kerbs.

A spokeswoman from Norwich City Council said: "We've introduced a variety of different cycle facilities in Norwich including separated cycle tracks, shared-use paths and cycle lanes painted on the carriageway.

"Painted cycle lanes work best when they are a generous width and they link to facilities that enable cyclists to safely negotiate junctions.

"The painted cycle lanes on The Avenues have seen levels of cycling more than double since being introduced - up from around 350,000 to 700,000 bicycles per year."

We asked people in Norwich what they thought of the city's cycle lanes.

- Ian Austen, 71 and from Mileham, said he used to cycle 14 miles to work and back, and would have loved to have cycle lanes.

"There are too few, I'm 100pc in favour," he said.

- Student Nicole Wegenaar, 20, said: "There definitely needs to be more. I've had more bad experiences when there aren't cycle lanes and it becomes even more dangerous when space is shared with pedestrians."

- But van driver Martin Brooks, 59 and from Horsford, said existing ones "aren't fit for purpose" and said some left cyclists in a "dangerous position".

- Engineer Norman Christmas, 70 and from Norwich, said: "Shared space is a great thing, but we need more defined spaces. Norwich is not a well organised city, there just needs to be some balance. We should look to the Netherlands."

- And Emma, 21, a student from Brundall, said people don't feel safe cycling next to drivers.

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