Norfolk loses 42% of its National Cycle Network

Dear Norfolk County Council Cycling and Walking Champion,

Does Norfolk County Council have any response to losing 42% of its National Cycle Network routes for safety reasons[1] at this time of increased cycling, government guidelines[3] saying to cycle and walk in preference to driving or public transport and new government statutory guidance[4] to build cycle routes? If almost half of Norfolk's A roads had been downgraded, there would be an immediate response!

Norfolk had approximately 500km of National Cycle Network Routes.

125km (25%) have been downgraded to linking routes not meeting NCN standards, including Routes 1 and 13 between Dereham and Fakenham and Route 30 Brandon-Denver (northern branch).

Approximately 85km (a further 17%) have been removed from the OS map[2] entirely, including Route 11 Denver-Ely, Route 30 Wells-Cromer-Happisburgh and Brandon-Southery and the whole of Route 33 Cromer-Aylsham. This means it is no longer possible to cycle across Norfolk on Sustrans routes, yet the "Network improvements" link on www.norfolk.gov.uk/cycling only mentions some things in Norwich

Locally, I know of more network downgrades planned than upgrades, but there are improvements we've been waiting over 50 years for.[5]

What will be done to remedy this situation, please?

Background info:

[1] Sustrans removing and reclassifying substandard routes:
https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2020/jul/19/national-cycle-network-sustrans-cuts-quarter-uk-routes-safety-grounds

[2] The updated OS Map of Norfolk, with no NCN (solid lines) route from Yarmouth to King's Lynn possible any more:
https://osmaps.ordnancesurvey.co.uk/ncn/52.66009,1.07992,9

[3] Government guidance "help control coronavirus and travel safely by walking and cycling, if you can.":
https://www.gov.uk/guidance/coronavirus-covid-19-safer-travel-guidance-for-passengers#travel-safely-during-the-coronavirus-outbreak

[4] Government instruction to highway authorities like NCC to "make significant changes to their road layouts to give more space to cyclists and pedestrians" and "create corridors for buses, cycles and access only on key routes into town":
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/reallocating-road-space-in-response-to-covid-19-statutory-guidance-for-local-authorities/traffic-management-act-2004-network-management-in-response-to-covid-19

[5] Improvements needed in West Norfolk and the Fens:
https://www.klwnbug.co.uk/space4cycling/needed/

Champion Cllr Jamieson replied:

This has come about following a review of the [Sustrans] Network nationally to try to ensure that they are providing a safe and more consistent experience for users on the National Cycle Network. As part of the review they have identified sections that run on or cross roads where traffic speeds are above an acceptable threshold and have therefore proposed to remove, or re-classify, these sections of its National Cycle Network. Unfortunately they did not give us warning of their decision in advance.

My understanding is that Sustrans are now well aware of the need to work together if we are to achieve all that we are aiming for in terms of modal shift in the near term. They are, I believe, wholly on board to help us deliver the Greenways, the coastal routes and other projects, as well as the upgrades to road crossings and other installations that we are currently working on.

In relation to ongoing projects; I would not say they were 'stalled' as that would imply we were waiting hopefully for funding. In fact we have a specific Task and Finish group, from Public Health, the Environment, Active Norfolk and our Highways team working together with outside organisations such as Sustrans to prepare bids to attract funding from a range of sources, broadly badged under Active Travel. This will enable us to present 'shovel ready' projects as they fall due. Lets stay in touch as I will need your help as we go through the process.

Cllr Kemp (Independent, South Lynn and Clenchwarton) commented:

Norfolk County Council needs to increase Norfolk's dedicated cycle lanes, take special care to preserve their integrity, and not allow any to be downgraded. Open spaces and corridors of exercise are critical to the county's health post-Covid. Travelling safely by walking and cycling to work is Govt advice.

Any curtailing of the county's levers for Modal Shift won't do at all. National Institute of Clinical Excellence ( NIC) recommends Active Travel, including walking and cycling, as part of its strategy for reducing health inequalities caused by respiratory diseases.

I cannot stress how important it is for this Council and for Sustans to champion all of Norfolk's cycle routes and to safeguard and enhance their settings.

Health now needs to be linked into all Highways decisions for a better Norfolk.

Press Coverage

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