On or off your bike? Debate over whether cyclists should be allowed to ride down more Norwich city centre streets
PUBLISHED: 11:06 24 August 2017 | UPDATED: 13:01 24 August 2017
On or off your bike? That’s the debate amid moves to allow cyclists to ride in more pedestrianised city centre streets at any time of the day.
At the moment, cyclists are not permitted to ride down a string of streets, such as Gentleman’s Walk, Davey Place and White Lion Street between 10am and 5pm and not allowed down the likes of London Street or Lower Goat Lane at all.
But amid confusion - with different restrictions in different streets - the city council has been consulting over changes, which could mean cyclists are allowed to ride down streets such as Gentleman’s Walk, Back Of The Inns and Castle Street in the daytime.
One option would allow cyclists to ride down time-restricted streets like Gentleman’s Walk in the daytime.
The other option would retain such restrictions, but would allow cyclists to go down currently off-limits streets such as Lower Goat Lane and London Street between 5pm and 10am.
The council says accidents between pedestrians and cyclists are very rare in pedestrianised areas and the proposals are in line with Department for Transport recommendations.
But civic watchdog the Norwich Society has concerns.
Vice-chairman Paul Burall, in the society’s submission to the council, said: “While we agree that a uniform system would be ideal, we do not think that it appropriate in the particular circumstances of Norwich City centre where the width of pedestrianised streets varies so much and where some of the most narrow streets are also those that are well used in the evenings.
“We also take the view that there is no fundamental reason why people cycling into the city centre should be treated differently to motorists once they enter the pedestrianised area and suggest that, normally, cyclists should walk with their bikes rather than ride.”
However, the proposals were welcomed by the Norwich Cycling Campaign.
They say it would bring to an end confusing regulations in the city centre, with people not clear where and when cycling is and is not allowed.
They say that: “Considerate cyclists will not cycle through pedestrian areas at busy times and there is no plan to change the pedalways map to advertise these as cycle routes.
“Most people will make a reasonable decision on whether to cycle, based on how crowded it is at this time. It has worked well in Cambridge city centre and it works well in St George’s Street.”
The Norwich Highways Agency Committee, made up of city and county councillors, is due to make a decision over any changes next month.
The possibility of cyclists being allowed to ride down a number of the city centre’s streets at any time of day divided opinion among shoppers in Gentleman’s Walk.
Brian Baker, from Acle, said: “The name is a good indication of what’s meant to come down here.
“There are people with zimmer frames doddering down here and I worry about what sort of protection they would get.
“I don’t object to people cycling, but I think cycling down streets like this would be a problem, particularly on busy school holiday days like today.
“I don’t see how it could be done safely, with all the kids about.”
Cyclist Paul Davies, from Eaton, said: “I think the more that can be done for cyclists the better.
“I think we’re about a decade behind the rest of Europe - places like Germany and Netherlands. We could be as good as them if we invested more.”
On whether there was a risk of accidents, Mr Davies said: “I think that, once the system is established, people would get used to it.”
But Keith Roe, a cyclist from Sprowston, was not so sure.
He said: “I always push my bike down this street [Gentleman’s Walk] and lock it up before I go into the shops.
“As a pedestrian, I would want cyclists to be well separated and as a cyclist I wouldn’t want to try to cycle between people who were walking.
“I think we’d all be getting in one another’s way, so it would have to be properly demarcated if it did happen.
“I think there would have to be more thought behind how they would do it, rather than just saying all cyclists can come down here.”
Alan Chapman, from Galley Hill, said: “I like to cycle myself and I think it would be good to open up more of the city to cyclists.
“My only concern would be that you do get young children running around down here, so maybe there might need to be some sort of lane for cyclists.”
His wife Joan agreed: “I’m not a cyclist and I don’t have a real issue with it, but my worry is that people don’t always keep their children under control, so I can see there could be accidents.”
Here is a list of the Norwich city centre streets which could be affected by the changes:
Back of the Inns,
Lower Goat Lane,
Old Post Office Court,
St Gregory’s Alley,
St Gregory’s Back Alley,
St John’s Alley,
St Peter’s Street,
White Lion Street