Figures reveal how coronavirus cut traffic on roads in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn

Cycling surged, with fewer cars on Norwich's roads during lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Cycling surged, with fewer cars on Norwich's roads during lockdown. Picture: ANTONY KELLY - Credit: Archant

New statistics have revealed just how big an impact coronavirus had on traffic in three of the biggest urban areas in Norfolk - but also how the huge increase in cycling has started to drop off.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Pict

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport. Picture: Simon Parkin - Credit: Simon Parkin

Lockdown in March brought about what Norfolk County Council described as “unprecedented changes” to the use of the highway network.

The changes were by recordings at key traffic-signalled junctions in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn, as well as by access to data collected by mobile apps.

Within the first week following lockdown, traffic levels in Norwich, Great Yarmouth and King’s Lynn plunged by 70pc, before gradually increasing each day through the following month.

By the end of July, traffic levels were around 11pc lower than pre-lockdown February levels on average, but there was wide variation between the three area.


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Traffic in Great Yarmouth was already back to pre-February levels by the end of July, but it remained 17pc below the February statistics in Norwich and 12pc below in King’s Lynn.

However, with children now back at school, council officers expect the next set of figures will show a further traffic increase.

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With cycling, the council obtained data collected by Strava, a mobile application used by cyclists and walkers to plan and record journeys.

The number of people using it to record cycling activity increased by 240pc this May, compared to May last year. The number of cyclist users up to June this year was already higher than the entire of 2019.

And counters set up at Ketts Oak Cycle Path in Hethersett showed how, in May this year, 11,000 cyclists were detected, an increase of 320pc compared to October last year, a month after that counter was installed

However, the council’s latest data suggests the cycling trend has now plateaued and is starting to decrease.

Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways and infrastructure at the council, said: “We have all seen a huge increase in walking and cycling since the Covid-19 outbreak. It is important that we follow up from that to support walking and cycling over the longer term by putting in the correct infrastructure.”

The council has submitted a bid for £2.2m through the government’s Active Travel fund - money which is meant to be used to encourage cycling and walking - while it is also waiting to hear how much money it will get through the Transforming Cities fund.

However, Norwich Cycling Campaign had questioned the merits of some of the schemes put forward through the Active Travel Fund bid and said it was “too little, too late.”

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