Former Home Secretary Charles Clarke has urged Norwich City Council to improve cycle route provision in the city. Clarke, who is MP for Norwich South, issued the call following a public meeting allowing constituents to air grievances in which cyclists riding on pavements emerged as a key concern.
It’s a topical issue in the East Anglian city. Earlier this month, road.cc reported on police cracking down on pavement cyclists in Norwich, including one pedestrian who was hit by a bicycle as he walked out of his front garden.
According to the Norwich Evening News, a number of people attending the meeting described being hit by bicycles or suffering near misses. The newspaper said that one, a Mr Tim Townshend, who claimed to “regularly get almost mown down by cyclists,” asked the MP: “Could you invite the police to enforce the law and would you consider primary legislation so bicycles would have ID numbers like registration plates and cyclists to have insurance cover, details of which they would have to provide if stopped?”
Mr Clarke, a former chair of the All Parliamentary Cycling Group, rejected that call, however, saying: “I am not sure I am in favour of licensing cyclists and am much more in favour of supporting cycling routes. If you look at European cities in places such as Holland and Germany you see pedestrians and cyclists going about their business separately.”
He added that he believed that police were addressing the problem of pavement cyclists, although some of those present claimed to have seen riders pass policemen without any action being taken.
But another attendee highlighted the problem from the cyclist’s perspective, saying that it was simply too dangerous to ride on major roads such as Ipswich Road and Newmarket Road, forcing cyclists to take to the pavement instead.
Clarke is aware of the problem, and the paper reported him as saying: “I believe there needs to be separate cycle routes and that on the big arterial routes it is possible to do that. I believe in roads such as Newmarket Road and Ipswich Road to have much more cycling there than there currently is at the moment, although you might have to take away some of the grass verges. We always back off and say it is too difficult to do and change never happens.”
As we reported last week, schoolchildren in villages near Norwich are pushing for change with the support of their own local MP, campaigning for bike paths that would safely link local schools as well as improving cycle commuting routes into the city.
Born in Scotland, Simon moved to London aged seven and now lives in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds with his miniature schnauzer, Elodie. He fell in love with cycling one Saturday morning in 1994 while living in Italy when Milan-San Remo went past his front door. A daily cycle commuter in London back before riding to work started to boom, he's been news editor at road.cc since 2009. Handily for work, he speaks French and Italian. He doesn't get to ride his Colnago as often as he'd like, and freely admits he's much more adept at cooking than fettling with bikes.