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‘Shambles’ claim after tree trouble scuppers cycle lanes in £785,000 Norwich traffic shake-up

PUBLISHED: 07:00 20 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:39 20 July 2015

The work being carried out at the Avenues,, but tree roots have meant the plug has been pulled on the originally planned Danish-style cycle paths. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The work being carried out at the Avenues,, but tree roots have meant the plug has been pulled on the originally planned Danish-style cycle paths. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

Archant

A £785,000 project hailed as a way to improve cycling in Norwich will no longer include dedicated lanes for bicycles, after council officers realised trouble with tree roots would make the project too expensive.

Artist's impression of how The Avenues was meant to look once the Push The Pedalways changes were brought in.Artist's impression of how The Avenues was meant to look once the Push The Pedalways changes were brought in.

And that has led people to brand the project in The Avenues, which has caused months of disruption to drivers, as a “shambles”.

Norwich City Council trumpeted the changes to the tree-lined street as an important plank in its £5.7m Push The Pedalways project, which aims to make it easier for cyclists to get around the city.

The Avenues has been shut since June for work on the street, but it has emerged that the dedicated cycle paths cut into the verges, which were supposed to be a key part of the proposals have been ditched. Instead, cyclists will have to make do with “advisory” lanes painted in the road.

When councillors agreed the scheme in November last year, they gave the go-ahead for one-way Danish-style cycle tracks to be built over the verges on both sides of The Avenues between Bluebell Road and Colman Road.

An artist’s impression of what the road would look like was produced, showing bicycle riders making use of the dedicated cycle paths.

But council officers have admitted those cycle lanes will now not happen, after what they described as “detailed design work” established the only way to prevent the work from damaging tree roots would be to dig the paths by hand - which would make the cost of the scheme “prohibitive”.

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: “On approval of The Avenues project, detailed design work was commissioned and this raised a number of technical difficulties with building the hybrid cycle paths.

“These were concerning the tree roots and the damage the work would cause to the trees themselves. Detailed design work is only carried out on approved schemes, meaning this issue wasn’t highlighted earlier.

“Delivering an ambitious vision for improvements to cycling infrastructure in Norwich has presented a number of challenges and unfortunately it means this project cannot be delivered entirely as planned.

“The other improvements in The Avenues and along the pink pedalway as a whole will bring significant benefits to the city.”

Other changes include a 20mph speed limit on roads in the area, improvements to the junction where the Avenues meets Colman Road, cycle-friendly road humps on The Avenues and speed tables at other junctions.

Charlie Ringwood, 81, who lives in nearby Bluebell Road, said without the cycle paths, the scheme was a waste of money.

He said: “Everyone is saying that this is a shambles. There’s been all this disruption and yet they’re not doing what they said they’d be doing.

“These are big trees, so why didn’t they realise earlier on that there would be roots under the road? It makes me really angry.”

And Margaret Todd, from the Norwich Cycling Campaign, said she was “extremely disappointed” that the dedicated paths had been dropped.

She said: “The proposed hybrid cycle tracks would have offered a safe, convenient and attractive route for current commuters, as well as encouraging more people to use an active and sustainable means of transport today and in the future.

“We expected those hybrid cycle tracks to be a model for other parts of Norwich. The traffic calming measures currently being built are not specific to cycling and provide none of these benefits.”

• What do you think? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE.

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