We’ve been thinking about transport networks, and how they constantly adapt and improve as our cities change. This is a particularly poignant question as Newcastle has fairly extreme housing expansion plans, laid out in their One Core strategy: between now and 2030, Newcastle City Council wants to see thousands of homes built out West, spreading over a belt of green land on 21 sites between Newburn and the airport. Just how will the transport system accommodate such an aggressive expansion?
We understand that developers, the council and Highways England are clubbing together to fund a study to look at the effect this will have on the roads saving developers doing separate overlapping studies. The study covers and area from the A1 to the main roads which will feed motor vehicles into the city centre and onto the local streets. The junctions will be assessed against any projected increase in traffic, and then they will be re-design those for the projected increase. All fairly common practice, and that’s exactly why we worry that any transport transition effects will not be accounted for, cycling and walking infrastructure forgotten about and only token measures be plumped for.
But what about current plans? How do they fit into the (future) transport system? Do they add up on the map? Around half the homes will be in quite a tight cluster around Kingston Park. The council have previously defined the backbone of a cycling network on the Cycle Strategy – their seven Strategic Cycle Routes (SCRs).
Checking against the map, we see that there is no SCR which serves this sector of the city, there’s just a big gap between SCR2 and SCR3. Figure 1 highlights this gap.
Figure 1 – Current planned routes:
This seems like a bit of an omission. The increase in housing in the (outer) West of the city mean that a route is needed so that thousands are given an alternative to the car to get to the city centre. Looking at the map, it becomes clear that a new route is needed, (maybe a SCR2½, or SCR2a, if they have to be numbered this way) as shown in Figure 2.
Figure 2 – A new west route – SCR 2.5
Now that we are starting to see the first fragments of the Strategic Cycle Routes (and we aren’t always happy about their quality, or ambition), it’s time to think about the future. We want to see council thinking through the future of cycle infrastructure in Newcastle, and put clear and bold plans in place how to improve and adapt the cycle network in future.