Heaton Road pinchpoint

Council yesterday announced that the removal of a pinchpoint on Heaton Road, that saw the death of a cyclist in late 2011, is now underway.

We’ve been asking Newcastle City Council, the highway authority, to act since the tragic incident happened.

Immediately after the fatal incident, we wrote to all nine councillors (there are three adjoining wards), yet they were unable to speed up any investigation or help shed light on proceedings or improve transparency.

We also requested information from the police to understand better the circumstances (see [3]), only to learn it was “not in the public interest” to share information with the affected community. An item we’d like to take up with the PCC (see [4]).

The cycling community around the country went into “overdrive” at the seeming blindness of police, highway authority and justice system to see what’s required, their lack of understanding and sympathy. And also sparking again the discussion of drivers’ dangerous behaviour near pinchpoints and the well-known danger that pinchpoints pose to cyclists. Embedded in Cycle Infrastructure Design Guidance LTN 2/08 we read “Refuges and islands … can create hazardous pinch points for cyclists” before going on to explain that a cycle bypass would be the safest option if a pinchpoint were to be retained or created.

On our journey for information we also discovered that justice is rarely on the cyclist’s side, that road justice is something that must be fought for, and have since then teamed up with the charity RoadPeace. A very important network for victims of road injustice, we recently met with RoadPeace staff in Newcastle and were delighted to learn that a local group is forming.

The road environment on Heaton Road is not an inviting one for cycling, and there are many pinchpoints along that stretch, also continuing North of the Coast Road on Newton Road.

A zebra crossing is now proposed. We think this is a good solution.

[1] Chronicle 3 December 2011 http://www.chroniclelive.co.uk/north-east-news/evening-chronicle-news/2011/12/03/tributes-flood-in-for-tyneside-vicar-michael-malleson-72703-29888525/
[2] Journal report 21 April 2012 http://www.journallive.co.uk/north-east-news/todays-news/2012/04/21/heaton-vicar-died-after-bike-hit-by-moving-car-61634-30806136/
[3] FoI police http://www.whatdotheyknow.com/request/police_report_for_cyclists_death_2
[4] Request to meet PCC http://newcycling.org/news/20130110/pcc-meeting-sought