New Year 2013 – here we come!

Last year we put cycling firmly on Newcastle’s political agenda. And what was true then, remains true now. We have the City chiefs and a good number of local Councillors on cycling’s side. It’s excellent and we thank these political pedal pioneers.

The real convincing will now take place on a ‘ward level’ when cycling improvements are proposed. Local Councillors have recently opposed cycle plans in Walker and Walkergate on spurious grounds; and the jury’s still out for the Gosforth bike proposal. Unfortunately, Councillors can be prone to playing political games and to party posturing. This is despite everyone’s full and unanimous agreement of the 10-year City Cycle Plan and Newcastle’s cycle manifesto, both mandating the development of a cycle network in Newcastle: the Strategic Cycle Routes (SCR).

Jesmond, as usual, is unusual. We are pleased to report that Councillors there have been very supportive of a community cycle plan. In Jesmond the problem currently lies with council officers to whom the political message of a Liveable City has not yet filtered through. With an active cycle community and local political support this will no doubt be a crease to be ironed out.

In 2013 we have to get moving on a local level where-ever SCR are proposed. We’ve asked council for a programme so they can consolidate their promise of developing a cycle network and also so that we can better plan our activities. For example, we’ll contact you to write to your Councillors and MPs at critical stages. Please watch out for those action items in our future newsletters. It’s paramount that you help us to amplify the pro-cycling view.

Another plea is to spread the word. We know non-cycling people are scared to use their bike on the roads due to the aggressive traffic conditions; the Summer of Cycling 2012 message could not have been any clearer. We think that is understandable. Just forward this article and ask your friends, colleagues and neighbours to sign up to the Campaign for a pro-people, liveable, green, healthy City and region where walking and cycling is a perfectly pleasant and intrinsically safe activity: a real alternative to the car for short journeys. A better future for our children. A healthier, more active future for families.

Here’s the essence. We want cycleways on fast busy roads and better junction design so that everyone can cycle in peace, harmony and safety. This modal shift will improve walking conditions too. European cities are the leaders, and we look at best practice from Copenhagen and Amsterdam. And the No.1 cycle town in the world: Groningen, Newcastle’s twin town!

The days of having to cycle on-carriageway on the Great North Road or New Bridge Street, amongst many other hostile roads, should be numbered.

Happy New Year!
Katja Leyendecker
Chair of Newcycling.org