'Falls well short': Cycling campaign criticises Grapes HIll revamp

The Grapes Hill roundabout. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The Grapes Hill roundabout. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

The £330,000 revamp of one of Norwich's busiest roundabouts has been criticised by a cycling campaign group.

But bus bosses said the new scheme is already speeding up journey times for their passengers.

Weeks of work on Norfolk County Council's changes to Grapes Hill roundabout recently came to an end.

But Norwich Cycling Campaign, which had raised concerns at an earlier stage of the scheme, said the changes cause "a big problem" for pedestrians and those riding bicycles - because they have to share the same space.

The group said the scheme's design now dissuades cyclists from using the road and roundabout, but the shared use footpaths/cycleways they are encouraged to take instead are "totally unfit for purpose".

Sections of the shared route on Convent Road, connecting to Unthank Road, have been widened.

But the campaign said the shared path narrows to a pinch point close to the new crossing, making it hard for bicycles to get past, especially if people are queuing for the crossing.

The narrow shared pedestrian footpath and cycleway on Convent Road next to the Hamlet Centre at the

The shared pedestrian footpath and cycleway on Convent Road next to the Hamlet Centre at the Grapes Hill roundabout. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

And they said the shared use pavement which leads to Earlham Road past the Temple Bar pub has several blind corners. They warned "a conflict at that bend seems inevitable".

Derek Williams

Derek Williams, from Norwich Cycling Campaign. - Credit: Derek Williams

Derek Williams, from the Norwich Cycling Campaign, produced a ride-through video critiquing the new scheme.

Most Read

He said: "It might work well for traffic, but pedestrians and cyclists have a big problem.

"The improvements to the Chapelfield crossing are superb, this is what high quality cycling infrastructure looks like.

The separate cycle crossing across Chapelfield Road next to the Grapes Hill roundabout. Picture: DE

The cycle crossing across Chapelfield Road next to the Grapes Hill roundabout. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY/Archant2021

"However, the rest of the scheme falls well below the level of provision we need and have a right to expect."

On the shared path in Convent Road, he said: "This is totally unfit for purpose and indeed, the design is counter to the government’s national design standards. It’s as if none of this applies to Norwich."

A cycleway and pedestrian sign

A cycleway and pedestrian shared footpath sign. - Credit: DENISE BRADLEY

However, the county council says the scheme was approved before those design standards were put in place and it was not possible to provide full segregation at that location.

The council said an independent safety audit had not raised issues with the shared use.

Martin Wilby, Norfolk County Council Member for Highways, Infrastructure and Transport. Picture: Dan

chair of the Transport for Norwich joint committee. - Credit: Danielle Booden

Martin Wilby, chair of the Transport for Norwich joint committee, said: “We have worked closely with government and all stakeholders throughout the development of this project to deliver a scheme which achieves the maximum benefit for all users at what is one of the busiest highway junctions in the county.

"The works carried out will generate significant journey time savings on the city’s most popular bus route to the UEA and hospital, whilst providing an environment where more people choose to walk and cycle, where it is easy to cross the road and where there is less congestion."

Traffic modelling estimated the changes would cut bus journey times by two minutes in the morning peak and by up to seven in the evening.

Paul Martin

Paul Martin, from First Eastern Counties. - Credit: Archant

Paul Martin, commercial manager at First Bus Eastern Counties, said: “Although Grapes Hill roundabout has only been fully opened for less than a week, bus passengers using our services are already experiencing the benefits.

"The long queues of traffic that used to form exiting Chapelfield North, especially at peak times, are not there, as it is now far easier for vehicles, including buses, to get out onto the roundabout.

"Early indications are that this scheme has more than delivered the journey time savings that were predicted, which is vital for our long term aim to encourage people to use more sustainable modes, like public transport."

Become a Supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Become a Supporter