‘Too little, too late’ - campaigners say schemes in £2m bid are not what cyclists need
PUBLISHED: 14:18 12 August 2020 | UPDATED: 14:18 12 August 2020
Archant Norfolk 2017
Cycling campaigners have said a bid for £2.2m to pay for new cycle lanes, pedestrian crossings and bike parking to help people travel safely during the coronavirus pandemic is “too little, too late”.
With the government urging people to look at alternatives to public transport during the pandemic, there has been a surge in people walking and cycling.
Bike shops had reported how they had been exceptionally busy during the pandemic, with people buying new bikes or getting ones they had not used for some time fixed.
The government made £2bn available for schemes to make it easier for cyclists and pedestrians to get around during the pandemic.
And Norfolk County Council has bid for the cash through the second tranche of the government’s emergency active travel fund.
But Norwich Cycle Campaign has questioned the merits of the cycle lane schemes which have been put forward in the city.
Projects the council wants money for - which would be spent in this financial year - include new cycle lanes in Norwich and Great Yarmouth and cycle parking in King’s Lynn, Yarmouth and market towns.
The council also wants to make some temporary traffic restrictions which have been introduced due to coronavirus permanent in Norwich, Diss and Harleston.
• £574,000 for a mandatory cycle lane on Mile Cross Road in Norwich, from Aylsham Road to Havers Road, with a pedestrian crossing upgraded. A further £23,000 is sought for a cycle lane south of the roundabout on Mile Cross Road.
• A mandatory cycle lane and pedestrian crossing upgrade on Norwich’s Ipswich Road, from Daniels Road to St Stephens Road, at just under £170,000.
• A £300,000 plus mandatory cycle lane in Heartsease Lane, Norwich, from Rider Haggard Road to Plumstead Road roundabout.
• A £72,000 new mandatory cycle lane in St Williams Way, Thorpe St Andrew, between Margetson Avenue and Thor Road, along with an upgrade to the pedestrian crossing.
• A £140,000 cycle lane in Great Yarmouth’s Jellicoe Road, from the A149 to the Racecourse.
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• Just under £125,000 to upgrade a pedestrian crossing in Gaywood Road, King’s Lynn.
• £115,000 for cycle parking in market towns, along with £60,000 for facilities in King’s Lynn and £25,000 for them in Yarmouth and Gorleston.
The government has indicated that Norfolk could get £1.5m from the pot.
But, having got about £100,000 less than hoped for in the first tranche of the government cash, the council has submitted what it calls an “ambitious” bid for the second phase of cash.
Martin Wilby, cabinet member for highways, infrastructure and transport at Norfolk County Council, said: “We’re currently awaiting the outcome of our recent bid for the second phase of the government’s emergency active travel fund.
“Our focus this time is on value for money schemes that we can implement this financial year, to help cyclists, as well as pedestrians.”
The council has prioritised the schemes it wants the money for, but has no current plans to fund any shortfall, although it would look for future funding opportunities.
However, Richard Bearman, from Norwich Cycling Campaign, said to fully capitalise on the boom in cycling, changes needed to have been made much earlier.
He said: “It is too little, too late. If we were going to have worthwhile changes made, then they should have been happening back in April.
“The roads are getting busier again now, so that is an opportunity which has been missed.”
And Mr Bearman questioned the merits of the specific Norwich schemes which had been mooted.
He said: “These schemes aren’t really in areas which are a problem for cyclists.
“The places where cyclists have real issues are at pinchpoints and at roundabouts.
“Mandatory cycle lanes can help, but only if they are policed and cars are stopped from parking in them.
“Cycle lanes are nice, but the issue cyclists have are not so much coming along a wide road like Ipswich Road, which works pretty well, but what you do when you get to the junctions and roundabouts at the end of them.
“All of these schemes are quite expensive and there is a danger that they are spending money on schemes that do not really help cyclists.”
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