The Highways Agency announced today its preferred design for changes to the A1058 / A19 Silverlink Junction. Concerned at the impact on the Coast Road Cycle Route we've written to Mary Glindon MP asking her to help ensure that the safety and efficiency of the cycle route is a key design consideration.
"I've read with interest your comments on The Times Safe Cycling Campaign, and also your lobbying for improvements to the A19 - A1058 Junction at Silverlink. Now that appears that a project at Silverlink will progress within the next few years I am writing to ask you to enter into a dialogue with Newcastle Cycling Campaign on the impact of these works on bicycle traffic within the borough. Ultimately I feel that those who use bikes to get around North Tyneside will need someone to intercede with the Highways agency and ensure that their interests are protected as this project progresses.
You may be aware that the busiest bicycle commuter route in the borough, the Coast Road Cycle Route, crosses the A1058 slip roads at this junction. Although crossing these slip roads is not something you would necessarily want your kids or your grandmother doing, it has to a degree worked for those trying to get to and from work.
Unfortunately one side effect of the scheme of works carried out last year and the opening of the second Tyne Tunnel has been a growth in the volume of traffic on these slip roads. It is getting steadily more difficult to cross them at peak periods and I am concerned that even with the existing traffic volume at times when visibility is poor the situation will become untenable.
I am deeply concerned that when consultation was previously carried out for a redesign of this junction in 2009 the commuter cycle route was not even shown. It is still not shown on the preferred route publication released by the Highways Agency today. In order to ensure the continued growth of safe cycling in North Tyneside we need the commuter cycle route to be part of the design from day 1. This doesn't mean dropping the route down through the silverlink junction and through 4 sets of traffic lights, people trying to get to work on time will not tolerate those sorts of delays.
The proposed scheme is designed to increase traffic volumes at this junction which will inevitably make crossing these slip roads even more dangerous than it is at present.
The upgrade to the A19 junction also presents wider issues for North Tyneside and road safety in general. The junction upgrade will inevitably generate growth in traffic volumes in an area several miles wide, as the route becomes more attractive to motor traffic. Indeed traffic growth is fundamental to the economic case that has been put for this scheme.
I am concerned that North Tyneside Council do not currently have the resources available to deal with the impact of this traffic growth. The money is simply not there to build the cycle tracks, zebra crossings and junction improvements which will be needed to ensure that the Silverlink scheme does not degrade the environment elsewhere.
I'd be keen for you to meet representatives of Newcastle Cycling Campaign to discuss both of these issues, or to enter into a correspondence on this matter.
The decision notice published by the Highways Agency implies that detailed design will start now, with land acquisition and design of the bridges to progress quickly. Whilst pedestrian and cycle access are mentioned in planned consultation you will appreciate that we have only limited confidence that this will truly involve designing a safe and efficient route through the junction for the cycle commuter route. Now would seem to be the time when intervention by our MP's would be most appropriate."
Preferred Route Publication: