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  • Writer's pictureSafer Highways

Norwich people feel UK roads aren't safe for cycling

Cyclists in Norwich say they feel among the most vulnerable in the UK and have described how dangerous the city's roads feel for those on two wheels.

Cycle lanes have become more prevalent in recent years but cyclists who are all too familiar with near misses feel there is still much room for improvement.

Peter Silburn, chairman of Norwich Cycling Campaign, said: "The danger caused by fast-moving traffic is the primary reason people don’t cycle.

Norwich Evening News: Peter Silburn, chairman of Norwich Cycling Campaign

Peter Silburn, chairman of Norwich Cycling Campaign (Image: Peter Silburn)

"The danger is real. Only in February a cyclist was killed on the ring road.

"I’ve just returned from the Netherlands where you see lots of people cycling, even when it's cold and wet.

"That’s because they’ve made the roads safe by building cycle lanes and calming car traffic.

"Do we care enough about the problem of our dangerous roads to actually do anything about it?"

The concerns have been shared following results of a recent survey that found 70.1pc of participants from Norwich did not feel UK roads are safe for cyclists.

That was the highest of respondents from any city, with the national average at 57.6pc.

Fern Blevins, of Tillett Road in NR3, said: "Sharing the road with traffic as a cyclist - particularly one with children - can be intimidating. You're very aware of how vulnerable you are.

"It only takes one driver's attention to waver and it could be fatal for you or your children.

"When there's no cycle path, we have to make a decision. Do I take my seven-year-old - who's a competent cyclist but still learning to navigate roads - on a busy road with me? Or do I let her inconvenience pedestrians by going on the pavement?

"If we had a network of safe, segregated cycleways I'd feel a lot safer getting from A to B, as I imagine many people would."

Norwich Evening News: Cycle lanes on The Avenues in Norwich - Picture: Denise Bradley

Cycle lanes on The Avenues in Norwich - Picture: Denise Bradley (Image: Newsquest)

According to the survey - conducted by law firm Simpson Millar with more than 2,000 participants - cyclists feel most vulnerable on city centre roads where there is no dedicated cycleway and at roundabouts.

Yet just 5.2pc of local participants said they have stopped cycling frequently due to their safety concerns.

Matt White, founder of Car Free Norwich, felt it was "embarrassing" for the city's authorities to see local folk come top of the national survey results.

He said: "The lack of good infrastructure means cyclists are often forced to share the road with dangerous, fast-moving traffic - a threat exacerbated by the recent trend for ever-larger SUVs and pickup trucks.

"It is a tragedy for anyone to be denied the freedom and joy of cycling because they do not feel safe on our roads.

"We need a network of high quality, protected cycle lanes as a matter of urgency."

The research also found that cycling has grown in popularity since the Covid pandemic.

Liam Calvert from Living Streets Norwich said: "Often cyclists tell us the reason they feel the need to be on the pavement in the first place is because the roads are so dangerous.

"It is really important to pedestrians that cyclists get high-quality cycle infrastructure that allows them to feel safe."

The survey results follow a number of updates to the Highway Code last year, including that drivers must leave at least 1.5 metres (five feet) when overtaking cyclists.

Regular cyclist Nick Stephen, of Armes Street, said: "I've had several near misses in recent months due to close passing which is an all too common occurrence at the moment.

"The lack of dedicated cycling infrastructure in Norwich regularly forces me onto busy roads.

"As an experienced cyclist, I accept this as part of my daily cycling routine but it shouldn't be the case and I'm sure the current state of affairs is a deterrent to many who would like to take more journeys in Norwich by bike but are simply too scared to."

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