Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

General cycling advice ( NOT technical ! )
AnzacGal
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Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby AnzacGal » 18 Jan 2010, 3:09am

Hi

Just after some advice. I'm looking at moving to either Norwich or Leicester and one of the things that may weigh into my decision is how bike friendly the city is. I've been quite spoilt in living in Cambridge where the cycle paths are good and motorists are accommodating, if not just simply used to, bike traffic.

Anybody from either city or had experience of either city have an opinion?

thanks
AnzacGal

York Commuter
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby York Commuter » 18 Jan 2010, 9:12am

Anzac Girl

I visited Norwich in October - as a pedestrian - there are a lot of cyclists around and as a regular commuter myself I would not have been worried by cycling within the city.

I can't comment on Leicester as I have never been there.

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A commuter since 1991 when I moved to York.
A tourer since 1992
Now a married man who spends longer in the garage repairing and building than riding!

steady eddy
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby steady eddy » 18 Jan 2010, 9:22am

Norwich city centre is not very bike friendly inside the ring road and contrary to popular belief is quite hilly. The country side beyond however is quickly accessible as the city is fairly compact and is fantastic for cycling, with lots of almost traffic free roads, easy access to the coast, the Broads and the Waveney valley. They dont call Norfolk the graveyard of ambition for nothing. Once you get here you tend to stay.

Beyond the cycling there is lots going on in Norwich, music, theatre, very good shopping and a very well supported football team rapidly heading back to the championship. Some good bike shops and active cycling clubs. House prices are more than Leicester but a lot less than Cambridge. Yes I am an unashamed resident of Norfolk. I have tried some of them and there are very few better places to live.

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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby Big T » 18 Jan 2010, 12:20pm

Depending on where you live, there are some nice cycle routes into the centre of Leicester. From Fosse Park/Narborough, there's the Great Central Way, built on the bed on an old railway line.

There's also some outstanding countryside around the city. Bradgate Park/Charnwood Forest to the north west are delightful. Rutland Water is not far away to the east and offers good cycling on off-road tracks and quiet lanes.

There's a very diverse ethnic mix including a substantial Asian population - great if you like curry!

Plus they have one of the best Rugby teams in the country and already have a football team in the Championship!
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby Jonty » 18 Jan 2010, 6:01pm

Leicester was the UK's first Environment City so cycling is supported by the City and County Councils but more could be done and is being done.
You can cycle into the centre of the city along a designated cycle route from settlements to the north or the south (the Great Central Way to the south and the Soar Valley to the north), which is quite remarkable.
Leicestershire has several "Green Wedges" which extend from the innner suburbs to the periphery of the City and countryside. There'a a bike park in the centre of the City in the old Town Hall. Cycling opportunites in the County are good. Eastern Leicestershire and Rutlland are particularly attractive with interesting villages, lanes, short sharp hills, off-roading opportunities and light traffic.
Don't know about Norwich apart from it being a smaller, more pleasant city and the surrounding topography is flater.
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QUIST
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby QUIST » 5 Nov 2010, 3:31pm

I cannot comment on norwich but while there are some cycle paths in Leicester there are none from the east ( Humberstone road ). I cycled in and around the city for years as part of my job and found that other drivers lack the anticipatory courtesy of the the city where I now work, Derby.

It has some nice countryside around it, a wonderful ethnic mix but overall I'm that fed up of the behaviour of other road users following being closely cut up twice on Sat that I've started to request details of properties in another part of the E.Midlands. It has a fair selection of and one wonderful in particular bike shop but its no place to encourage anyone else to cycle

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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby GrahamNR17 » 5 Nov 2010, 4:33pm

My cycle excursions around Norwich have been very positive. I found the other road users unusually aware of cyclists. There's a growing number of cycleways (many shared pedestrian/cyclist) and at the weekends you can cycle out as far as Aylsham and Wroxham without hitting car-occupied tarmac. If I had to live in a city, Norwich would be my first choice.

dr nosh
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby dr nosh » 5 Nov 2010, 9:32pm

+1 for Norwich.

I have cycled in, around, through and its OK really. As another poster said, its a compact city so getting out is easy to some nice quiet areas - eg. North Norfolk. Some good bike shops, high street multiples and still lots of individual shops as well.
Lots of young people (UEA university). I think that the local traffic is bike aware.

Leicester has a high ethnic mix, some very busy areas, a ring road that really seems to favour motor transport. Fair number of young people (deMontford Uni ) I have not cycled here, but driven in and around for many years on business so this is my view from behind a windscreen.

I have to state my position as a resident of Norfolk, although not born and brought up here - I'm a suvenner really.
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millimole
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby millimole » 5 Nov 2010, 9:54pm

I've lived (and cycled) in Leicester for 25 years now, and still have very mixed feelings about its cycling infrastructure.
The city is, in effect, in a bowl, so that if you are cycling into the centre from most of the suburbs you will be cycling home again uphill - the exception is the direct north/south route along the largely excellent Sustrans Route 6, which is the Great Central Way south of the City Centre.
As someone else has said, there are good green wedges (again north/south) with some very good cycling country to suit most tastes nearby. However, my current daily commute illustrates many of the facets of Leicester's cycling 'provision' - I live in Leicester Forest East, on the Western Edge of the City, and work in Crown Hills on the Eastern side of the City - my morning commute takes me down Hinckley Road - fast downhill bus lane, with seriously bad surfacing, and across Abbey Park on Route 6 - very pleasant, until you hit the hell of Dysart Way which has a lot of traffic moving between two main arteries, but is single carriageway, and with absolutely no thought given to the safety of cyclists (and is the main reason I choose a different route home). Then after Uppingham Road, going against the flow of commuter traffic, it's seriously uphill on one of the worst road surfaces I've ever come across to my employer's excellent secure cycle storage. Going back home - downhill - with some very, very heavy traffic, which is certainly not cyclist aware, and across the major outbound arteries, and through the back streets round by Grace Road cricket ground, to go through Aylestone Meadows, and a short stretch of Route 6 again, and then it's a plod through the Estate - watching out for the chavs racing over the speed humps - before starting the uphill drag home.
I'm not convinced that the student population does anything for the cycling culture - apart from maybe cultivating spates of cycle thefts at certain times of the year, and the universities don't seem to actively encourage cycling as far as I can see.
The ethnic mix certainly makes it an interesting city to live in, and it's more than just curry! There's a huge Somali population now, as well as a big mix of East Europeans too. (I suspect that there may be less cyclist awareness among some of the ethnic groupings, as they may have passed a test outside the UK - but this is probably a controversial view, that I would be hard put to defend!)
The local CTC groups are mainly county based, and there is no longer a city based campaigning group to keep the City Council on its toes.
There is a city centre 'Bike Park' which used to have an excellent reputation - but I've heard nothing about it since it changed hands.
There are two main retailers in the City - Julies and Websters - both have their fans and detractors. There's also Beacon Cycles in Loughborough which is much more traditional.
Apart from cycling the public transport in Leicester is excellent (my 40 minute cycle commute takes an hour by bus - with one change -and costs me £4.00 for an all-day all-operators ticket).
Anything else? :roll:

wildnorthlands
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby wildnorthlands » 5 Nov 2010, 11:47pm

Leicester has a cycling officer - Andy Salkeld - who is a Good Bloke and has done his best to improve cycling conditions in the city. The Sustrans route going through both places have helped in my opinion. Norwich has Marriott's way which is one of the best examples of an urban rail-trail in the country - these are notoriously difficult to keep clear of glass and bits of burnt-out vehicles but Norwich manages it somehow. Having said that the Great Central route through Leicester is also very good, but perhaps too popular with walking folk to make for great cycling. I'd say Norwich has the edge, but it is a long way from anywhere else significant.

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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby Tandemist » 8 Nov 2010, 11:38am

Er, not sure I like the anti-student vibes from millimole, especially as an ex-University of Leicester student myself !
My experience as a cycling student in Leicester in the early 1980's was very good. I lived in the Stoneygate & Knighton areas which were full of students.
I joined the Univeristy Cycling Club but that was only for racing and after attending a local hill climb with them I figured maybe they were too fast for me :shock: so joined the CTC City Section at the time, who had a well deserved reputation for hard riding :D .
It was a great crowd, and I made some great friends there and had some wonderful hostelling holidays with them too, and my happiest memories of Leicester were from riding with them. Alan, Tony, Alan, Vic, Rowley, Nick, and others whose names I've forgotten were great, and as for Sue, Wow !
- There were a lot of characters in the group, of which I expect I was one too !
I joined Spokes, the Leicester cycling campaign group, and I think they did assist in the Great Central Way development, but it sounds from one of the above listings that they don't exist anymore :(
I did have a bicycle stolen from a poorly sited bicycle rack near Lee Circle in the centre of Leicester - but I had only used a flimsy chain and locked it up under the watching eye of an idling youth who was sat on the steps of the footbridge above - presumably he was the one who stole it after I dissappeared to Sainsbury's to fill my panniers - but it could have been somebody else.
Leicester is a busy city with some great cycling residents and I can recommend it - though I believe the local CTC groups have changed a bit and I get the impression the people I knew who are still involved have moved to groups more similar to the "Loiterers" section of old !
The Bike Park is a commercial enterprise supported by the council, in their basement, and was run by Websters when I last went there I think.
An excellent idea & pity Birmingham doesn't have a similar facility.
Bradgate park and Kirby Muxloe Castle were pleasant local places to ride to from Leicester as well.

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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby QUIST » 8 Nov 2010, 2:54pm

To return to the original question better for bikes Leicester or Norwich? I would still re-iterate that is the manner of which other road users treat cyclists which is most important.

Yes there is some nice countryside around Leicester, yes there are undoubtedly some worthwhile people who have helped improved cycling conditions but other problems remain.
The attitude of other road users ( including one individual who cycled from out of my line of vision and hospitalised me ) plus the state of the air due to the exhaust fumes. It may well have been Britains first enviroment City - but only because the airs so lousy. The local paper has just carried its annual story abvout cyclists on New Walk- which runs parallel to London Road. It is indeed a wide pleasant way of cycvling to or from the centre. There is plenty of room for both pedestrians and cyclists but every year there are protests about cyclists on New Walk. Cyclists ride there as it is safer, the air is cleaner and they are not hassled/ignored by other road users. If the City council was that bothered about cyclists it would have created a cycle lane either on NW or on the pavements of London Road ( on the West side it is some 16 feet wide ! )

There is no realsitic route from the east to the centre which does not involve using Humberstone Road/Uppingham Road.

And just how many Somalis does it take to make a "huge population"?

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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby Tandemist » 8 Nov 2010, 3:45pm

I never cycled down New Walk, as an experienced cyclist using London Road instead which was a lot faster, at least in the downhill direction !
I do remember hammering upon the roof of one car that cut me up when going up London Road once, to no avail.
My memories of New Walk mainly consist of going to my favourite Night Club there and then walking back home at dawn !
I have hardly ever been to Norwich and can't really remember what it's like (Unmemorable presumably ?) but asked which is most like Cambridge my money probably wouldn't be on Leicester !
If you want Cambridge how about York, Bristol or Oxford, or stay in Cambridge ? - Although having been offered a University course there myself recently at £10K per year fees which I was reluctantly forced to decline as unaffordable I can see why you may wish to leave !

millimole
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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby millimole » 8 Nov 2010, 7:44pm

Tandemist wrote:Er, not sure I like the anti-student vibes from millimole, especially as an ex-University of Leicester student myself !
My experience as a cycling student in Leicester in the early 1980's was very good. I lived in the Stoneygate & Knighton areas which were full of students.
I joined the Univeristy Cycling Club but that was only for racing and after attending a local hill climb with them I figured maybe they were too fast for me :shock: so joined the CTC City Section at the time, who had a well deserved reputation for hard riding :D .
It was a great crowd, and I made some great friends there and had some wonderful hostelling holidays with them too, and my happiest memories of Leicester were from riding with them. Alan, Tony, Alan, Vic, Rowley, Nick, and others whose names I've forgotten were great, and as for Sue, Wow !
- There were a lot of characters in the group, of which I expect I was one too !
I joined Spokes, the Leicester cycling campaign group, and I think they did assist in the Great Central Way development, but it sounds from one of the above listings that they don't exist anymore :(
I did have a bicycle stolen from a poorly sited bicycle rack near Lee Circle in the centre of Leicester - but I had only used a flimsy chain and locked it up under the watching eye of an idling youth who was sat on the steps of the footbridge above - presumably he was the one who stole it after I dissappeared to Sainsbury's to fill my panniers - but it could have been somebody else.
Leicester is a busy city with some great cycling residents and I can recommend it - though I believe the local CTC groups have changed a bit and I get the impression the people I knew who are still involved have moved to groups more similar to the "Loiterers" section of old !
The Bike Park is a commercial enterprise supported by the council, in their basement, and was run by Websters when I last went there I think.
An excellent idea & pity Birmingham doesn't have a similar facility.
Bradgate park and Kirby Muxloe Castle were pleasant local places to ride to from Leicester as well.


Sorry - I didn't mean to be 'anti-student' - it's more anti-university if anything - the students are generally fine, it's the the uni authorities who don't seem to promote cycling as far as I can see (I have worked on the same site as the Medical School for a vast number of years, and both my wife and I are ex-DeMont).

Leicester Spokes is now purely a social rides group, and do not currently get involved in campaigning. They do have a website somewhere.

The thefts of cycles from Leicester Royal Infirmary and DeMontfort University are definitely seasonal. Both sites are very close to one another.

The Bike Park is only loosely supported by the City Council, Websters lost the contract, and I'm not sure who run it now. It's certainly a model that should have been copied by other cities. There is also a secure bike park run by the Highcross Shopping Centre within their huge car park - never used it myself, and never heard any accounts of it.

There are indeed some cracking rides out from the city - up through Charnwood Forest via Bradgate Park, or over the hills to the east of the city, or my favourite (as I live near Kirby Muxloe Castle - which English Heritage only open according to their own odd timetable now) is out to North-west Leicestershire and the Bosworth battlefield areas.

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Re: Better for bikes? Norwich or Leicester?

Postby Tandemist » 9 Nov 2010, 12:55am

I organised a student bike ride out to Six Hills Kart racing track once :D
Thought I had a tennis ball stuck to my back afterwards in bed - I'd bruised it on the back of the Kart seat :cry:
Glad to hear Spokes still exist. Such groups tend to be a mixture between a social rides group and a campaigning one - I'm in Pushbikes these days in Birmingham and it is almost split into two groups - the campaigners who seldom seem to go on the rides, and the riders who seldom seem to campaign... I'd like to claim I do both but guess I'm mainly in the second group :oops: