Cycle lanes are well and good - but where are all the cyclists?
- Credit: PA
For many months now, as I have walked or driven around Norwich and the surrounding areas, seeing our beloved city being dug up beyond all recognition, there has arisen a question which has been reverberating around my mind; a question that I still can find no answer for.
I have watched, like many of us, with frustration and despair, as street after street has been disrupted in order to make it more 'cyclist-friendly'.
No-one seems to be aware of the bigger picture; plans are put in place and then scrapped, or altered, costing even more.
The Avenues, for example, with cycle lanes on both sides and a single lane in the centre for two-way traffic; (oh yes, sorry, that was the road where nobody had taken into consideration that the trees, which incidentally have been there as long as I can remember, may well have roots...).
On it goes and still no-one can answer my poser, which is.. 'Where are all the cyclists?'
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It appears that our entire city and many of the surrounding districts have been turned into a building site in order to accommodate the cyclists of our county and beyond.
I frequently travel across Norwich at various times of the day and night when I have counted very few cyclists.
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I keep expecting a mass influx of cyclists to suddenly descend upon our city, peddling up from Cambridge or whizzing across from Amsterdam. But, still the question comes buzzing back. Where are they all?
Now, I have nothing against cyclists; (well apart from the few, perhaps, who dress in black from head to foot and ride with no lights at night, along the unlit country lanes to my home and those who seem to think they are exempt from red traffic lights) but cyclists, on the whole, I have nothing against.
Indeed, at occasional times throughout the year, I can actually be seen joining their ranks, as I pedal frantically around my village on my multi-gear mountain bike. (I did actually ask for an old bike with a basket on the front so I could go shopping while keeping fit, so the gears do present a bit of a challenge; five in the car are enough to worry about without multi ones on a bicycle!)
Everywhere you seem to go now, there are cycle lanes; there is even a tiny part of a bridge in one location that has been designated for bicycles, despite the fact there is hardly room for one car to pass over it at any given time. Those involved with Roads and Transport now seem to be catering for this one group.
So, after all this disruption and the consideration shown to accommodate all these 'phantom' cyclists who, at some point, are going to invade Norwich and Norfolk, we then hear that the secretary of The Norwich Cycling Campaign reportedly stated that she thinks, 'it is safer to stay on the road because if you go on a cycle lane you then have to rejoin the traffic coming up from behind you...' She then went on to say, 'It is sometimes quicker not to use them.'
Another quote from a local councillor stated, 'We need people to understand that just because there's a cycling facility, that does not mean cyclists are going to use them.'
Gosh, why didn't these people tell this to the council before they began spending the millions it is costing to install these lanes? Were no cyclists consulted before work began and the diggers were called in?
Whether they want them or not, I guess that cycle lanes are here to stay. All we need now is some cyclists to try them out!