In the next few months we expect the council to begin consulting on changes to Haddricks Mill junction. This is done as part of the creation of the Northern Access Corridor, falling under the umbrella of wider city development plans. And what we’ve seen so far doesn’t look good for sustainability, urban liveability or transport fairness – the car “wins” again – in theory (traffic modelling) and so in practice (road space) too, and the city loses.
Council is in general tatters over transport plans and to succeed needs much clearer direction and focus. In general, we worry about the sustainability of their housing development plans, and have suggested alternatives. You have to be patient and dig very deep into council’s latest plans: the creation of a Northern Access Corridor. What you’ll then find is all-the-more upsetting. What is happening? In typical silence, seeking no consultation or community engagement, Newcastle council applied for DfT funding (external link) with plans that look horrendously demeaning for walking and cycling at the Haddricks Mill location (see below) – and was successful in doing so. (This makes DfT part of a much wider problem that transport transition policies must address.)
The council plans would make the already very claustrophobic Haddrick Mill roundabout into a complete dead-spot for walking and cycling. The plans are put together in an entirely old-fashioned highway engineering way.
Technically speaking, the design centres around achieving theoretical motor traffic flow capacity and does not account for sustainable living or creation of alternative networks to alleviate car dependence.
No further designs updates or redrafted plans have been shared since, which is worrying. We think that ward councillors may have been kept informed about progress by the council and have more information. But neither officers nor councillors have spoken to newcycling.org about it or ask our opinion. This is a shame, especially as there are some Space for Cycling supporters. Council and councillor knowledge has often been seen lacking on the complex issue of transport. (So much so, that we have asked city bosses to restructure their budgets and employ an expert to run awareness sessions on transport policy and technical aspects of transport transition and modal shift.)
All this coming together at Haddricks Mill is a lethal cocktail that has us worried enormously. In the name of transparency and openness however we want to share our thoughts. The main points we will continue to make are summarised here:
- the junction is solely designed for theoretical motor traffic through-put, leaving walking and cycling stranded on the sidelines and cycling completely ignored
- this is a sensitive innercity location, for example schools are serviced through that junction. It deserves better walking and cycling links
- this is an important local route between Newcastle and North Tyneside, and especially for cycling there is no viable alternative route. If cycling is not designed for at this junction, Newcastle’s cycle network would always be incomplete
- a layout inclusive of these different aspects can be done! The location can be made accessible for walking and cycling, but council must change its motor-centric stance and honestly support people who want to travel sustainably by setting aside space to make this a possibility
- council must abandon the failed idea of “smoothing the traffic” (and speak to DfT about this) – it does not work. Instead council must reduce junction capacity for motor traffic through network planning, and increase it for walking and cycling journeys
- in essence, council must go on a planned and concerted road diet: that’s how modal shift (incidentally a council policy) has been shown to happen
As plans will develop over the coming months, we will try to keep our ear to the ground, and will be relaying information about Haddricks Mill to you.
You can use this link to check for latest news on the subject.