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Norwich cycle route slammed as "useless" and "botched"

Cycle campaign says designs for Norwich's busiest bike route were changed at the last minute from a raised cycle track to one shared with motor traffic...

A Norwich cycle route has come under fire as “useless” and “botched” after it was unexpectedly downgraded at design stage from a raised cycle track to one shared with motor traffic, while fresh sections of tarmac are starting to crack up.

The advisory bike lane was painted onto The Avenues, part of the city’s wider Push the Pedalways scheme, which is paid for by Cycle City Ambition Fund money from government, after the council said tree roots would make a dedicated cycle track too expensive to build.

Norwich Cycle Campaign has expressed surprise at design changes, which it says were made without consultation, as originally bike lanes were to be raised above the tree roots. With the present design cars are forced to use the bike lane in rush hour as the two-way motor traffic negotiates one lane’s width.

Norwich in race against time to secure Cycle City Ambition funding

The Norwich Cycling Campaign calls the section of The Avenues near the University of the West of Anglia “the busiest cycling street in the city, indeed all of Norfolk”.

In a video critiquing the new route it says “not only do large numbers of people on bikes use it but a lot of motorised traffic, especially at peak times” when, it says, the cycle lane effectively ceases to exist.

It goes on: “The space allocated to motor traffic is only one lane wide, despite the road being two way and carrying large double decker buses”, so that when traffic is approaching from both directions drivers use the bike lanes just to pass one another.

The NCC says cyclists are lulled into a false sense of security by the white lines and the numbers of other cyclists, when the cycle lanes offer no actual protection from traffic.

Norwich is one of the eight Cycle City Ambition Fund recipients, receiving £5.7m in 2013 for improvements to an eight mile 'pink pedalway' and connections to it. A further £8.4m was awarded the city this year to improve more of its cycle routes.

The campaign group has branded The Avenues route “useless” and “botched” and says it fails to provide a safe and convenient route for cycling. It says the changes to the original high quality design came without warning.

“After a long period of consultations and several proposals a plan was announced, which featured two dedicated hybrid cycle tracks, one on each side of the road, and it had the potential to become a showcase scheme and a study case for future project.

“But it was not to be. At the last moment, and without any consultation, the scheme was dropped, and something very different was produced. There would be no dedicated hybrid cycle tracks, just white paint and speed humps.

It says “The speed humps were paid for using the cycle provision money, of course.”

A parallel route was supposed to be improved as part of the scheme but NCC says this has not happened. In the video this route is shown with pedestrians walking in it and with give way markings at side streets and where footpaths cross it.

The NCC praises the clear demarcation of priority of cyclists over traffic at side junctions with red paint and give way lines but says, “why the rest of the cycle lane isn’t red as well is a mystery”.

More recently cyclists have started reporting the surface of the new cycle route have started cracking up and developing large indentations.

A council spokesman told the Eastern Daily Press the surface issues would be dealt with at the contractor’s expense during the normal 'snagging' period.

“As always, this kind of thing, if not dealt with by the contractor before, would be picked up in the ‘snagging period’, which is where we would inspect the work it had carried out and any problems identified would be ironed out by the contractor at its expense.

“There is no reason to imagine this would cause any delay to this piece of the project, which is due to be completed at the end of February.”

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Eric D | 8 years ago

One near Hull ?

More here

... and in comments

...and here

"Running close by and roughly parallel to the fast trunk roads, are narrower roads intended to connect people who live between towns, to the towns nearest them."


Eric D | 8 years ago

Removing white lines can reduce speeds: TfL

All had enough width for 2-way traffic - some even a central hatched 'buffer' lane !
Speed reduction could be as much as 7 mph.
A23 Brighton Road, Croydon had only 1mph reduction, despite cycle lanes being widened, too - perhaps flow is more tidal - commuting - inwards in the morning and back out at night ?

"5% reduction in accident frequency can be expected per 1mph"

Petersfield is mentioned in RSGB comments - "In the 1990s the town centre was redesigned as part of the DfT Bypass Demonstration Project. " Seems to be a very early 'shared space' - no road markings at all around the square !
"Its absence may cause the driver to consider his or her road position and speed more carefully."
Drivers give cyclists more space on roads without central markings, study finds |
Shackel and Parkin - Passing distances and speed 
" A number of significant findings have emerged; some confirm previous results, while others are contradictory. "
"Our evidence is inconclusive however, on the effect of cycle lanes at posted speed limits of 20 mph and 30 mph. Cycle lanes have no beneficial effect on passing distances and speeds."
"If lanes are shared by both cycle and motor traffic, the widths need to be sufficiently wide to allow overtaking within the lane. If lane widths are insufficiently wide, then the removal of the centre-line would assist as this has the effect of creating slower overtaking speeds."

Mill Road, Cambridge - - no lanes whatever
Gilbert Road - - wide enough for two-way - centre lines at junctions only - abreast no-hands in cycle-lane seems relaxed !
Cambridge Cycling Campaign seemed supportive.
Updates ? Data ?

Losing white lines from the road 'cuts speeding' because lack of markers makes drivers more cautious | Daily Mail Online

Easter Garngaber Rd, Lenzie, Kirkintilloch - Before - After

There seems to be quite a bit of supporting experience and evidence.

2004 - Road Safety Markings Association is accusing Wiltshire County Council -- which reported a 35 per cent reduction in casualties at 12 sites -- of using statistically weak data.

pistonheads comments are pretty supportive !

May all be a fuss over nothing - how long does it take for motorised traffic to evaporate ?
Try these and please report back !

PS Yes, I should get out more myself ! Yesterday I caught myself saying "I used to be a cyclist!"

wycombewheeler replied to Eric D | 8 years ago




From the sustrans guide  "This technique is only suitable for roads wide enough to accommodate two 1.5m cycle lanes and a central 3.5 m general traffic lane (6.5m). There should be no significant heavy goods vehicle traffic, and general traffic flows need to be low enough to permit single-lane working"  This appears not to be the case on the road in question which is both busy and on a bus route, busses being equivalne tto HGVs in my mind.


"Where the need arises for on-coming motor vehicles to pass each other, this is achieved by both vehicles momentarily pulling over into their respective near-side cycle lanes, having first checked to see they are clear of cyclists."

I am left wondering if this is a realistic expectation

Eric D | 8 years ago

  • In Suffolk County, England, re-striping a substandard road with advisory bike lanes resulted in reduced car traffic and increased cycling. From 2005 to 2006, ADT decreased from 5,600 cars per day to 4,500 cars per day while bike usage rose from 150 cyclists per day to 183 cyclists per day. There has been only one crash in the last four years (it involved a motorcyclist going too fast and no other vehicles were involved).

Photos: - Tom Bertulis again, 2006 with more detail

  • B7062 Kingsmeadows Road, Peebles
    centreline remains - re-instated !
    AADT approx 3,700 vehicles (Dec 2004); Average speed 31mph, 85th %ile speed 35mph.  No ‘before’ data available.  80 cycles
  • Cowley Road, Oxford
    3,000 cyclists, 1,000 goods vehicles, 700 buses, overall AADT between 7,000 and 13,000  - (in 2008)
    Centre line is intermittent, but centre lane is wide enough for 2-way traffic anyway
    cycle lane is wider on the doorzone side beside the parking lane
  • Tower St, Hull - access to The Deep Visitor Attraction
    vestigial centreline - center lane just wide enough for 2-way - twisty
  • Rownhams Lane, Hampshire
    almost wide enough for 2-way in centre lane
    cycle lane markings have been allowed to fade
    junction has newly-added red paint and central refuge and centre-lines
    seems to have reverted to the usual mess over 9 years
  • Canongate, St Andrews
    Centreline present but faded (2009)
    speed controlled by (new?) cushions
    cycle lanes used for parking - even coaches !

Doeas anyone local have any statistics ? Updates ? Other instances ?

I don't see evidence from the last 10 years that suggest this (geometry or location) is a good solution where there is a significant level of motor traffic. There should be evidence gathered from these sites. 

Why do we suddenly have two unpopular instances in Jan 2016 ?
If the road is so quiet that conflicting oncoming traffic doesn't keep speed down, the Dutch even add central pedestrian refuges !

Is there Dutch data ? Reports ? Conclusions ? Upper limits to acceptable motor traffic ?

Edgeley | 8 years ago

It is a pretty normal format in the Netherlands, but only on roads with very little motor traffic.


This appears to be one with lots of cars.  And English drivers, who don't have the Dutch concern for cyclists, nor their presumed liability rules.

Eric D | 8 years ago

"Two-way motor traffic in one lane"

Oddly, this arrangement may have been influenced by the Netherlands - they often have two-way cycling on one-way-driving streets

But in rural areas, and where motor traffic is rare and slow (farm access) and alternative roads exist, they do run two-way traffic in a single lane.

New Zealand tried it, and reversed the decision after a few days !

I'm sure it's unusual in NL. David Hembrow has a video showing a one-way street being used exceptionally as two-way-driving, due to roadworks

"Cycle lanes are only okay when speeds and traffic volumes are very low."

"... a bicycle road. It is no longer possible for motorists to use this as a through route"
"There is no through traffic here"

I see no other examples on either of those huge dutch-infrastructure sites.

Are there any other examples in the UK ?

Very often cars park on one lane of two-lane residential streets (or 2 lanes out of 3), leaving one lane for two-way traffic. Reduces driving speeds below cycling speeds - due to hard obstacles.

Could anyone come up with a plan to make this road one-way for drivers ?

Eric D replied to Eric D | 8 years ago

Pledge to learn lessons after Norwich city cycle lanes scuppered by tree roots - Eastern Daily Press
‘Shambles’ claim after tree trouble scuppers cycle lanes in £785,000 Norwich traffic shake-up - Eastern Daily Press
Multi-million pound Norwich cycle path scheme dogged by criticism to come in for scrutiny  - Eastern Daily Press - "they are building car parking spaces where the cycle lane should be"

I'm surprised they didn't consider washing the soil out from the tree roots - should be quicker than hand-digging.

Eric D wrote:

Are there any other examples in the UK ?

I suppose it's an extension of Poole's wide cycle lanes
Giant cycle lane painted in Poole that's bigger than the car lane (From The Bolton News)

Hat-tip to our friend Keith Peat for this one - and CTC!
A Liddle means a lot for Northumberland cyclists | CTC (again with the parked car ! Maybe there was less traffic in 1997? "it is common all over the country")
Northumberland's B6530 repainted with cycle lanes but NO central markings | Daily Mail Online
B6530 in Corbridge, Northumberland - a.k.a. Hadrian's Cycleway route 72 - another bus route - 860-metre stretch

Corbridge cycle lanes cause confusion
(car parked on cycle-lane, double-yellow and pavement : lanes just stop "because you can’t put cycle lanes outside of a 30mph speed limit" - no: see dual carriageways)
County lambasted over 'dangerous' cycle lanes

‘Death-trap blunder’ over new cycle lanes - Daily Express

There was a comment "Same in Fakenham"
Just non-overlapping lanes that are too narrow to be safe ! That 'Give Way' triangle hints at danger ...

Essex - "short lengths of cycle lane were marked on the road at regular intervals"
Means they have no actual effect - like sharrows : drive + ride the same with or without them.

I hope it's not a fashion for 2016 !

NR23Derek | 8 years ago


The present scheme was considered as an option but dismissed in 2014. It was acknowldged that traffic levels at peak times are too high for advisory lanes like this.

The segregted cycleway schem was announced following two public consultations and promoted on council leaflets. The present scheme was decided upon very much at the last minute and without any consultation.

It would seem that a vast amount of money from the cycle grant was spent on expensive public realm works around the cathedral - the infamous Tombland cycle track.

Big Engine | 8 years ago

This was never going to work, the council's often putting in duff cycling infrastructure.

Coupled with no maintenance and almost all drivers exceeding speed limits, this has made the route worse, not better.

Thank goodness for Marriott's Way!

kie7077 | 8 years ago
1 like

Since they haven't put in anything there that could be considered to be proper cycling infrastructure, will they be refunding the gov't? This really is a pointless exercise in drawing striped dotted lines on the road which tell drivers that 1foot passing distance is ok. WORSE than nothing.

VeloPeo replied to kie7077 | 8 years ago
1 like
kie7077 wrote:

Since they haven't put in anything there that could be considered to be proper cycling infrastructure, will they be refunding the gov't?

As long as there aren't a cooherent set of design standards for government funded cycling infra projects that rubbish like this will continue to be built.

There's no acountabillity for how this money is spent so councils like Norwich will do what they want.

cyclisto | 8 years ago
1 like

Ever dreamt of driving in India? Here is your chance!

HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago

It's a good video - a bit long, maybe, for those of who do not live in Norwich, but it sets out clearly all the problems with the cycle way. You'd hope it would put pressure on the council to sort out the mess they've made, and live up to their original promises.

Awavey replied to HarrogateSpa | 8 years ago
HarrogateSpa wrote:

It's a good video - a bit long, maybe, for those of who do not live in Norwich, but it sets out clearly all the problems with the cycle way. You'd hope it would put pressure on the council to sort out the mess they've made, and live up to their original promises.

the problem is if you go back to the original bid/project promises documents  they clearly framed the barriers to increasing cycling on the Avenues and Norwich as a whole, as being the crossings of the ring roads in Norwich (the outer ring road the A140 junctions with the Avenues, the A140 would be familar to anyone in East Anglia as one of THE main roads across all of Norfolk)

it never stated there was anything particularly else wrong with the Avenues for cycling as there was cycling infrastructure already in place, yes we can all look at it and see it looks pretty rubbish as a cycling space and unlikely to encourage more cycling but the original project never identified those issues so never set out to fix them, and the bulk of cycling improvements on the Avenues were always targetted just to improve cyclist priority at that outer ring road junction, which AFAIK has been done, its a shame the video couldnt cover that bit to see if it actually works, as that would make more of a case of theyve not delivered properly.

the rest of the Avenues project was just general uplift of an area, extending a 20mph zone, traffic calming (and we all know traffic planners like using cyclists as mobile traffic calming) and making the pavements,verges & parking abit nicer which is in progress as we speak I think.

ok so where did the dual dedicated cycle track part that keeps coming up come from ? in the original bid documents it only states its a "desirable" aim to provide a single safe cycling route, once the funding was approved a number of ways of meeting that desirable aim were drawn up, including a dual dedicated separated cycle route, but I dont believe there was any guaranteed delivery of that provided, even if that was the overall impression everyone ended up with after seeing the nice pictures, but once cost overruns and amitions were scaled back, clearly the desirable falls by the way side, and there is an element of would you prefer to spend limited budget on upgrading existing cycling infra on just a part of a route to the best we can get but leave it totally isolated as a route, or spend that money trying to provide some more cycling infra to parts that had none.

fwiw I dont think the cycle campaigns idea of dedicating the cycle path works either, because though most people park road side to their properties, some do cross the paths to park outside their houses and having cycled on those kinds of paths where you are forever second guessing a car pulling out of a drive from behind a hedge, it always then feels safer on the road even with a double decker bus breathing down your neck

wycombewheeler | 8 years ago

as lonmg as the drivers accept thast they are guests in the cycle lane and drive accordingly it can work (probably only in low traffic roads though) but that bus at 3:08 tailgating is unacceptable

brooksby replied to wycombewheeler | 8 years ago
wycombewheeler wrote:

as lonmg as the drivers accept thast they are guests in the cycle lane and drive accordingly ...

Yeah, cos that's going to happen...! 

ironmancole | 8 years ago

Downgraded because to do it as originally specified was 'too expensive'?

So, saving lives is too costly?

Isn't it funny how authorities can always find X millions of pounds for a few yards of motorway but desperately needed sustainable transport links are subject to bean counting?

Cars kill everyone, cyclists do not, therefore cars need to take secondary priority until such time as people can demonstrate  they can drive without expecting the rest of society to pay for it with their lives.

Unfortunately this is yet another 'nice try' with little in the way of accomplishing anything that useful, made all the worse by the fact the money raised has now presumably all been spent.

Can you imagine if a similar thing happened on a roadbuilding project, there would undoubtedly by calls for a public enquiry.



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