Heaton Road Area – Our Response

Our response to the Heaton Road Area TRO that we sent on the 10th June 2016: –

Regarding GH/P44/1112 – Heaton Road

For the specific details that are covered in the TRO (Legal order), we support the proposed changes as part of the measures being introduced on Heaton Road to make it safer for walking and cycling.

Regarding the drawing that has been presented alongside the TRO, we do have some concerns, that we have previously raised during the development of this scheme. We urge the council to address these before the scheme is built.

While the reduction in speed through the area and some of the traffic calming function will help create a slightly better environment, the road is still used as through route by many motorists. So far the council have not published a clear movement plan, that states how this road should be used. As the road is mainly residential with areas of retail and a Primary School, we feel that this road should be used for access only by motor vehicles. Until the rat running through traffic is removed, the design of this area will be compromised by catering for through motor traffic and the danger and pollution that is created by through motor traffic.

The cycleways appear to be less than 2m wide, which is the recommended usable width for a one directional cycleway. In places the effective width could fall well below 2m due to obstruction such as signage places between the footway and cycleway. Just as the council has made it policy for new footways to be 2m wide, we ask that the council make it policy that new one directional cycleways are built to at least the recommended 2m usable width.

There are a number of areas along the route, where the cycleway transitions from separated footway and cycleway to shared paths. All of these occur beside crossing facilities. The council need to find an alternative to this arrangement, that still allows pedestrians to safely cross. The proposed provision creates spaces where people’s movements become less predictable, require additional changes in surface treatment, including providing tactile surfaces that cyclists must negotiate. The change also requires additional signage that clutters the environment and could reduce the usable width of the cycleway and footway. The increased conflict has been shown to be undesirable for all users of the cycleway and footway. We urge the council to reconsider the chosen design for these areas of interaction – We understand that the proposed design may be based on outdated guidance, and although the government have sadly shied away from issuing updated national guidance, they have made it clear that they expect local authorities to innovate. We insist that the council to look at improved designs for these areas which have been recently been developed elsewhere in the uk, and have been long been in use in other countries.

At areas where vehicles cross the cycleway and footway to access properties, the cycleway and footway are shown to drop down. There are other areas within Newcastle (and even on Heaton Road) where different designs have been used to provide access to properties without changing the profile of the footway, and without any apparent problems. Something similar could be provided here. We have previously been told that it is council policy to provide property access in the way shown in the drawing, if this is the case, the council should look at changing the policies to enable cycleway and footway designs that put their main users first, rather than infrequent motor vehicle access. We note that the proposed road humps on side roads have a 1:10 gradient, and would encourage the use of a similar gradient to keep the ramp within the 0.5M buffer strip or utilise the unused space between on carriageway parking bays to provide the needed change in elevation for property access.

We are concerned that the current occasional use of Tintern Crescent as a rat run (where the legality of some use of the street is highly questionable, due to the existing No Motor Vehicles Sign at the junction With Heaton Park View) will become worse with introduction of the traffic signal controlled junction at Heaton Park View. We ask the council to monitor the use of this street and implement changes (such as filtering access on one of the junctions) to remove rat running if it is found to be an issue here.

 

Documents that we responded to:

Heaton Road – Notice of Proposal

Heaton Road Plan