With reference to the King's Lynn Riverfront Delivery Plan, King's Lynn and West Norfolk Bike Users Group would like to express its absolute opposition to the proposal to open Harding's Way to all traffic.
This route, which was originally open only to cyclists and pedestrians, and was opened to buses in 2011, currently provides a safe and pleasant way for people to travel to the town centre without using cars.
Opening up the route to increased motor traffic would create congestion and pollution in the Harding's Way and Harding's Pits area which is currently clean and tranquil, as well as potentially discouraging people from travelling to the town centre by bike and on foot. This route is currently very well used and provides a convenient and safe route to Whitefriars School as well as to the centre of King's Lynn.
Indeed, this would be further enhanced by allowing contraflow cycling along South Quay, in much the same way as outside the station, thus allowing cyclists an easier route in and out of the commercial centre of town. This would cause less congestion than the proposals for allowing traffic along Harding's Way.
It is likely that opening Harding's Way to all traffic would also mean more motor vehicles travelling along the South Quay, which would seem to be in direct contradiction to one of the stated Design Principles for the Plan: “Create a network of public spaces to link the waterfront quarter to the town...to encourage people to visit the area and walk along the river”. There is mention of a “vibrant river-edge quarter” but surely increased motor traffic is more likely to discourage people from walking along the quay and make this vision difficult to achieve. An unpleasant, traffic-filled environment could have a significant effect on the economic viability of the commercial sites that are planned for the area.
There is already a problem with congestion and pollution in the town centre, and bringing more traffic into the historic town centre through an additional access road would surely only add to this problem. A gate was installed across All Saints Street years ago to close off an unregulated access route between the Southgates and Boal Street – it does not make sense to reopen this route and reduce the ability to control traffic flow to and from the town centre area.
Harding's Way is part of the international North Sea Coast Cycle Route and as such should surely be integrated into the Plan as a way to promote sustainable tourism and economic development. We believe that this could be done whilst retaining many elements of the current Plan, and we urge the Council to consider harnessing the town's historic and environmental assets with a distinctive, attractive and appropriate plan based around people and healthier travel.
"Sustrans supports the view of the King's Lynn & West Norfolk Bike Users Group, that Harding's Way should not be opened up to all traffic. The current provision of the traffic-free link along Harding's Way, part of the National Cycle Network Route 1 is an important route for residents in South Lynn, as well as students at Whitefriars School to travel in a safe and attractive environment, with limited potential to come into conflict with motor vehicles. With 22% of all journeys being less than 1 mile there is considerable potential to see a shift away from the private motor car, and it is routes like Harding's Way that make cycling and walking a real alternative, which need to be protected."
We also emailed county councillor Alex Kemp and MP Sir Henry Bellingham - the MP's office said they "will take this opportunity to take this up with the Borough Council. As soon as I receive a response I will get back to you." We will update this post with any further response.