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Norwich's "Dutch-style" roundabout designs not Dutch, say campaigners

Plans for the roundabout have been criticised for creating conflict and not protecting cyclists when they need it most

Plans for a £300,000 ‘Dutch-style’ roundabout in Norwich will put cyclists into conflict with pedestrians and drivers, according to campaigners.

Unlike a Dutch-style roundabout, which separates cycles, cars and pedestrians, designs for the junction of Woodcock Road and Catton Grove Road uses shared space for cyclists and pedestrians. The plans described by the CTC's Roger Geffen, MBE as “not terribly good”, are also criticised for providing no protection for cyclists when they rejoin the road after exiting the roundabout.

Norwich council, who agreed the plans last week, say they wanted a fully Dutch-style roundabout, with protected bike tracks separate from pedestrian footpaths. However, due to width limitations the council has resorted to shared space pavements, with zebra crossings on raised tables at each junction to give cycles and pedestrians priority over turning traffic.

Norwich cycle route slammed as "useless" and "botched"

However, both local and national campaigners have voiced concerns over the designs which, among other things, decrease the size of the roundabout, so drivers can essentially drive straight across the junction without turning. CTC’s Policy Director, Roger Geffen MBE, says plans make it more like “an uncontrolled crossroads”.

He said: “A Dutch style roundabout works by reducing the speed of the traffic by making it go around the roundabout, rather than through it.

“The other thing it is doing is creating conflict between cyclists and pedestrians. They have also provided no protection for the cyclists when they re-join the carriageway.”

Transport Research Laboratory Dutch Roundabout

Dutch-style roundabout at the Transport Research Laboratory

Seven people have been injured in crashes at the roundabout in the past five years, which has prompted Norwich City Council to single it out for improvements as part of its Push the Pedals cycle scheme, paid for with £5.7m government Cycle City Ambition Fund money, to which £8.4m was added last year. Speed cushions and the extension of 20mph speed limits will appear on roads leading up to the roundabout, but Geffen says the council could also reduce the roundabout to one motor traffic lane, rather than the current two.

Norwich Dutch Roundabout

Norwich "Dutch-style" roundabout

He says one of the problems evident in schemes of this nature is the UK still hasn’t got to grips with distinguishing between high volume, high speed roads, where cyclists need to be separated from motor traffic, and low speed, low volume routes where traffic volume and speed reductions can be made.

He said: “If you haven’t got space to create separate cycle facilities then you need to be reducing the traffic volumes and speeds in some way and that would usually require you to look at more than a junction, you have to look at an area-wide network.

“If you aren’t doing traffic reduction you have got to have protected infrastructure.”

Last month a cycle lane in Norwich, which is shared with heavy motor traffic in rush hour, was branded “useless” and “botched” by local cyclists.

As their name suggests, Dutch-style roundabouts are fairly common in the Netherlands, part of an infrastructure network that, on the whole, keeps those on bikes separate from motor traffic, including with protected bike lanes on busy roads.

 

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