Thursday, March 20, 2014
A scheme costing more than £250,000 to shake up city-centre traffic has been hailed as a way to make cycling in Norwich safer.
The Norwich highways agency committee voted unanimously to press ahead with plans that will introduce contra-flow lanes for bike riders in Magdalen Street and Cowgate, as part of a wider project to create an eight-mile cycle route.
And vice chairman of the committee, Labour councillor Mike Stonard, insists the £261,000 proposal will provide “significant improvements” for non-motorists.
Mr Stonard said: “I’d like to welcome the scheme. It’s something I’ve had an ambition to do for a long time and has now been made possible by Push The Pedalways funding.
“It’s going to make significant improvements for pedestrians and cyclists and strengthen our aim to make roads safer. We’re looking to increase cycling in the city and we want to double the numbers using bikes over the next 10 years and this should make it easier to cycle. It’s a move I really, really welcome.”
Norwich City Council has set aside £5.5m, made up of £3,7m from the government and £1.8m of local transport and health money, for the Push The Pedalways initiative.
More than a quarter-of-a-million will be spent to ban right turns from Magdalen Street into Bull Close Road; create a southbound cycle lane on Magdalen Street between Bull Close Road and Edward Street and create an advisory westbound cycle lane on Cowgate between Peacock Street and Magdalen Street.
Liberal Democrat county councillor David Harrison said he could not fault the planned work.
Public consultation will now take place and, depending on the outcome of that, work will start early next year.
There were no major objections from the committee, made up of city and county councillors, although Green city councillor Denise Carlo and Labour city councillor Gail Harris were both concerned a signalled crossing will have to be removed as part of the scheme.
They were concerned about how that would affect people trying to get to The Norfolk and Norwich Association for the Blind in nearby Magpie Road.
But they were reassured by the council’s transportation and network manager Joanne Deverick that a recent survey had shown the crossing was used just 24 times in 24 hours.
She described that as “incredibly low usage” and said there were crossings in nearby streets for people with impaired vision to use.
Contra-flow lanes have already been successfully introduced in Duke Street, Opie Street, St Margaret’s Street, Upper Goat Lane and Pottergate.
• What do you think of the scheme? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.