A cycling city: Norwich gets £5.5m boost to improve cycling infrastructure

Taking to two wheels for the British Heart Foundation. Cyclists embarking on the Norwich 100 bike ri

Taking to two wheels for the British Heart Foundation. Cyclists embarking on the Norwich 100 bike ride from Norwich Cathedral on a circuit of the Norfolk countryside. Photo: Steve Adams

A multi-million pound funding boost could see Norwich transformed into a cycling city in the next two years.

More than £5.5m is set to be unlocked following an announcement today that the Department for Transport has awarded a Cycle City Ambition grant to Norwich City Council.

The cash, made up of £3.7m from government and £1.8m of local money, will be used to upgrade cycling infrastructure across Norwich, including an eight-mile route through the city centre linking people with growth areas from the Norwich Research Park to Heartsease.

The funding is the first fruit of Norwich's City Deal, announced in February, which hands to certain cities the power to drive their own growth with less interference from Whitehall.

It comes as part of a £77m government package to promote cycling across the country, which includes promises to cut the red tape to encourage cycle-friendly road design.

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Norwich City Council leader Brenda Arthur said: 'We are absolutely delighted by this news. The programme of improvements will not only benefit existing cyclists but we hope it will also encourage more people in the city to use their bikes.

'This is also a landmark moment since it's the first award the council has received as part of its involvement in City Deals. I'm really looking forward to seeing the huge benefits both these initiatives will bring to Norwich through this successful bid.'

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The infrastructure upgrades will improve the design of routes on the Norwich cycle network, launched in June 2012, which began with the Connect 2 project in the north-east of the city.

The work is key to Norwich's ambition to double the number of people cycling within 10 years, and will connect communities to centres of employment. The eight-mile cross-city route has been designed to link 51,500 existing and 12,500 planned jobs with the city's population centres.

David Harrison, Norfolk County Council's cabinet member for environment, transport, development and waste, said cycling had an important role in Transport for Norwich plans, underpinned by the Norwich Area Transport Strategy (NATS).

He added: 'This funding will help us accelerate improvements for cyclists in the same way that Better Bus Area funding is being used to bring forward improvements for public transport. In the longer term, Norwich is set to become an even more cycle-friendly city.'

The cash injection has been welcomed by Norwich MPs Simon Wright and Chloe Smith.

Mr Wright, MP for Norwich South, said: 'We are aiming for significant jobs growth around the Norwich Research Park, and this funding means that thousands of people will be able to travel easily by bike to and from their place of work.'

Norwich North MP Miss Smith said: 'I have always encouraged people to get on their bikes and be safe. I welcome these funds to help people do that and look forward to the new facilities coming into action.'

The £3.7m was granted by the Department for Transport following an application from Norwich City Council in partnership with Norfolk County Council. When topped up with contributions from transport plans, developers, Norwich City, Norfolk County and Broadland District councils, Norwich CCG and the University of East Anglia, the total available to improve cycling facilities will hit £5.5m.

The projects will undergo full consultation, with some requiring approval from council committees.

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