Sustrans' National Cycle Network Route 5 has become increasingly hostile to cyclists over the past few years as the city council has diverted more and more motorised traffic along it. However, this week contractors closed it altogether in the southbound direction on Hill Street. The signposted alternative would take cyclists back the way they came, along the A38, and down Smallbrook Queensway, where they would have to switch lanes in the heavy traffic and make an illegal right turn. In practice cyclists were opting to cycle contraflow, using the wrong side of the road as necessary.
Push Bikes has brought this to the attention of both Sustrans and the city council. We understand both have made a site visit, and we await their response. Graham Lennard has told us that "The outbound [southbound] closure will be on until Friday. Inbound [northbound] is unaffected. [Thursday] the outbound lane will be used for inbound. A trench is being cut across the road and one way working is required."
The random, unannounced complete closure of cycle routes is something that doesn't happen in continental countries. A diversion will be provided, segregated as necessary. The Dutch will even take the trouble to build a temporary cycle path that is typically of higher quality than permanent cycle paths in the UK. By this means they maintain safety, and encourage and maintain high levels of cycling.