Yet again it is misreported that Harding’s Way is a bus lane. It is not. It is a cycleway, and always has been since opening in 2004.
The original Harding’s Way was built as a traffic-free route to link the new developments in South Lynn with the town centre and as a safe route to school for the children of Whitefriars Primary School. It was modified at enormous cost to allow buses to use it in 2011 in a cynical move by the borough and county councils to divert buses away from the pollution monitor by the South Gates. It remains the only safe cycling and walking route between South Lynn and the town centre and cyclists have priority over buses. To date it is the only section of the National Cycle Network to be converted to allow buses.
To open it up to general traffic would be reckless in the extreme as it is heavily used by pedestrians and cyclists who far outnumber bus passengers. If Cllr Bambridge saw it was underused I can’t think what time she was there. Between about 7.30am and 9.30am and in the late afternoon the route is thick with cyclists and pedestrians, many of them children. There are at least eight buses per hour and whilst most users are considerate, conflict between buses and cyclists is all too frequent and usually a result of buses not giving way to cyclists on the narrow sections. The route is increasingly busy as families move into the new houses in South Lynn and realise it’s far quicker (and cheaper) to walk into town past Harding’s Pits Doorstep Green than to drive.
If the borough and county councils are serious about reducing pollution they will be encouraging walking, cycling and public transport use alongside discouraging private car use. Reduce the number of cars on London Road and the buses wouldn’t need to use Harding’s Way.
Local cycling campaigners are still pushing for Norfolk Highways to undertake a proper cycle safety audit which should have been done before the route opened to buses. It is my firm belief that the buses should be removed from the route until its safety can be proven, let alone introducing yet more motor vehicles.
Rob Archer, Lynn