The plan to "improve" London Road's Air Quality by moving more motor vehicles to Harding's Way (NCN1) was covered about 8:43am on BBC Radio Norfolk's Breakfast Show on Wed 1 April but sadly it was no April Fools Day joke. BUG's MJ Ray said "We're completely unconvinced by the claims that it would benefit air quality. We think it would just be moving pollution around and any space freed up on London Road by moving vehicles onto Harding's Way would probably just be filled up by other vehicles."Borough cabinet member Brian Long put the council view that "obviously, taxi and private hire drivers said they would very much like to drive on Harding's Way, while pedestrians, cyclists and other groups said they didn't want to see taxi and private hire cars - not individual private cars, but private hire cars - included on that. What will happen is we'll have to weigh up the pros and cons of how much that's likely to save in the Air Quality Management Area and justify whether it's worth doing when it's so finely balanced in public opinion." (Actually, if you look at the consultation report from the plan page, most comments in favour seem to be from taxis/private hire... how is that finely-balanced public opinion? If people who ride bikes had responded individually rather working together on a detailed response from the Bike Users Group because we wanted to help, because we want better air to ride in, it would have been overwhelmingly against, but I'm sure there'd be some way to still report it as nearly 50-50...)
Harding's Way was built as a cycleway about 2000 and rebuilt around 2010 to allow bus use in the farce known as "Community Infrastructure 2: King's Lynn South Transport Major" which built only two of the seven cycling links it proposed - and one of those was botched and is planned for replacement! We have continuing safety concerns about the unavoidable narrow points on Harding's Way at the Nar Sluice and Whitefriars junctions and the differences between recommended and actual driver behaviour when meeting people walking and cycling on it.
Why won't the councils maintain and protect any of our lovely cycleways? They've already put buses onto Harding's Way, they're planning to build a road alongside the Sandringham Railway Path (after originally trying to put cars on it) and there have been attempts to turn several other cycleways into roads in the past (including the Sand Line Path and the Extons Road-Rollesby Road link). People on bikes do little damage to tarmac or the air quality, we're well-supported in government policy and strategy, yet we nearly always seems to be losing out in practice. It's sometimes said that people ride bikes here despite the councils' actions, not because of them. It's very difficult to screw up some of the most cycle-friendly landscapes in the country.
If you have any evidence about Harding's Way or about the likely effects of moving cars to it, please share it with us in a comment here. If you'd like to help improve cycling conditions here or elsewhere, please tell space4cycling who you are.