Multi-million pound Norwich cycle path scheme dogged by criticism to come in for scrutiny

The cycle lanes in the road on The Avenues. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The cycle lanes in the road on The Avenues. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

A £5.7m project to improve a city cycle route, which has come in for criticism, is to be put under the spotlight after a group of councillors agreed to scrutinise the scheme.

The Push The Pedalways scheme, partly funded through £3.7m of Department for Transport cash, has seen changes made to a number of roads across Norwich.

The aim was to make it safer for cyclists to get around the city, but some parts of the project have come in for strong criticism.

A project in The Avenues, which would have seen a dedicated cycle lane created, was curtailed when officers realised it would cost too much to build - because of tree roots.

Cyclists have criticised the advisory lanes which were installed instead. The Norwich Cycling Campaign said the narrow width of the road means those lanes have buses and cars in them at the busiest time. The group produced a video showing the issues.

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Richard Jennings, from the Norwich Cycling Campaign said: 'We were looking forward to a flagship project in The Avenues that would set a high standard to encourage the growth of cycling in the city. This ambition has not been realised and the present arrangement is unacceptable as it puts motorists and cyclists in conflict and it is potentially dangerous. The whole situation needs urgent reconsideration'.

The city council said it had commissioned two safety audits of the area – one during the daytime and one at night, neither of which raised any concerns.

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But the council added, having listened to public feedback, that it had commissioned a further safety audit to be carried out during the morning peak period, to take place early in the New Year.

The council said if that showed any cause for concern, the council would respond accordingly.

Changes to Tombland have also come under fire. Work, costing almost £1m, to make the area of Norwich near the Maids Head Hotel safer for cyclists began in May and concluded last month.

The result was greeted with a mixed reaction from the public. Some praised its appearance, but others said it was a waste of money.

And earlier this month, contractors had to apologise and return to the street because of problems with the surfacing work. The road will have to shut again overnight from 8.30pm until 7am on Monday and Tuesday for further work.

And Norwich City Council's scrutiny committee agreed yesterday to take a closer look at the project.

James Wright, leader of the Liberal Democrat group at City Hall and chairman of the committee suggested the scrutiny.

He said: 'There's a whole host of reasons for that. This was a significant public money expenditure, albeit with central government money for a large part of it.

'It's important we understand what has happened as a learning exercise and can look at the positive things going forward.'

Labour's Roger Ryan said that would provide an opportunity to dispel 'myths and misconceptions' about the scheme, but Mr Wright said the problems cyclists were experiencing in The Avenues was a reality, rather than a myth.

The committee will receive a report on the issue at its meeting in March.

What do you think of the Push The Pedalways scheme? Write, giving full contact details, to Letters Editor, Prospect House, Rouen Road, Norwich NR1 1RE or email

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