by Joe Burns
This year, nearly £16m is beginning to be being spent on transport alterations across Norwich. This means new cycle lanes, junctions, and road crossings being built to improve road safety for cyclists. Part of that spending is funded by a £425,000 Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Grant to improve cycle lanes between the inner and outer ring roads. That upcoming cycle lane project is the latest of several efforts to improve road use for cyclists in Norwich, including £800,000 spent as part of the Transport for Norwich scheme to build a cycle lane on Newmarket Road.
On roads like Newmarket Road, Magdalen Road, and Sprowston Road it is commendable that the council is making efforts to increase cycling by building cycle lanes. Those roads are extremely important routes into and out of the city, so it is fantastic to learn of help for cyclists heading into the city via those paths. But in the middle of the city, there is probably no room to build more cycle lanes alongside regular motor vehicle roads. The medieval layout of Norwich, and many ancient cities around the world, means that there is not enough space to provide room for walkers, cyclists and motorists in separate, divided lanes.
Thankfully, the future is car-less cities, so we need to plan and build for it – especially as more people move away from the countryside to live in cities every year. Therefore, cities need to work for all of those people, not the outdated gasoline-powered vehicles we currently sit in. Cities need to be free of gridlock and as car-free as possible, despite confused and disjointed feelings from a few.
A repeated cry from those that oppose improving cycle transport is that there are not enough cyclists using cycle lanes to justify the investment, to which there are several counterpoints. Simply, those complaining about the lack of cyclists could get out of their cars and start riding a bike. They would be healthier and would add to the numbers of people using cycle lanes. Obviously, sometimes you need to use a car (transporting large goods, travelling to areas not covered by public transport, etc.), but most of the time there are public alternatives.
Cycle lanes are only one part of the general effort to move beyond petrol and diesel motor vehicles. In the centre of Norwich there are always lines of vehicles back from the Q-Park Chapelfield multi-storey carpark. Obviously, there are always lines there because there are too many cars in the city. If only there were a way for people to get to Norwich by car, do their shopping, then leave Norwich without having to park at the shopping centre itself. Clearly, even though it doesn’t reduce the number of vehicles, Norwich Park & Ride is at least a great way to keep cars out of the city.Nationally, it was comforting to learn of the plan to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol vehicles starting in 2040, though that might even be too far away. Earthly damage caused by the production and use of non-renewable-powered vehicles is immensely damaging to all of us. That’s why motor vehicle users pay road tax, as opposed to cyclists, who travel in a far cleaner way. Weeks of minor disruption to road traffic is well worth it for the benefit of the wider global community.
To end, I believe that increased spending to build cycle lanes might not be the absolute best way to spend millions of pounds (as there are certainly greater causes) but if you don’t like it, vote differently for your representatives. I hope that one day cities will be totally free of private motor vehicles. Decent effort should be made to make cities greater places for pedestrians, cyclists and other pollution-free modes of transport, to function successfully.
Featured image: CC0 Public Domain / no attribution required [pxhere]
The Norwich Radical is non-profit and run by volunteers. All funds raised help cover the maintenance costs of our website, as well as contributing towards future projects and events. Please consider making a small contribution and fund a better media future.