SCR4 Jesmond – our proposal

As promised last week, we wanted to add some more specifics to our previous article which was setting the scene: we aren’t too happy with council’s current SCR4 plans. If Newcastle City Council were serious about making Brandling Park a Cycle Street, they would have build the case for a Cycle Street, bottom-up. That means gathering data. A Cycle Street starts to function effectively when there’s a cycle/car ratio of about 2:1 – that means cyclists outweighing drivers and creating a road environment where, for once, cyclists can command the street environment. The other option would be to completely remove pay-and-display car parking and create dedicated protected space for cycling – such as a two-way cycleway. But let’s focus on making Brandling Park a Cycle Street as this will also create a better environment for residents and pedestrians too. What design details would make Brandling Park a true Cycle Street?

Filter out motor through traffic

Back in September we believed that traffic levels on Brandling Park were suitable for a Cycle Street; and for most of the time this seems to be true. However from discussion with our members and further observations of the street environment, we learnt that the morning and afternoon (school) rush hour generates a lot of traffic on Brandling Park. So much so that cars come to dominate the street environment, often bringing it to a stand-still. The street clogs up, and cyclists get trapped behind vehicles or in empty car parking spaces, finding it difficult to re-enter the traffic stream. This problem of motor traffic dominance also stretches onto the junction with Clayton Road which becomes a hostile environment during the school drop-off and pick-up. For a Cycle Street to function effectively we have to get the modal mix between cars / cycles right. For Brandling Park this means that motor traffic must be reduced. Our design achieves this by closing the junction with Lambton Road, which would remove the circulating traffic from Brandling Park. If Lambton Road would be mode-filtered to only allow walking and cycling, it would mean that the only motor traffic accessing Brandling Park were made up of residents and their visitors (all parking on East side) and paid car parking customers (West side).

Reduce conflict through better design

A safe street must have space for all the expected traffic movements to take place; and it is particularly important that the design layout does not put cyclists in conflict with drivers. This is especially true on a Cycle Street – a street where cycling has priority and drivers are guests. The current council design creates a narrow stretch north of Lambton road (see Fig.1a below). Having a pinch point like this allows drivers to assert their dominance of the space by forcing their vehicles through gaps and, more worrying, bike users out of the way. The solution that we put forward is to provide sufficient road width for two drivers to pass each other, at slow speed. This takes away the reliance on car parking to provide informal crossing places and would make the road environment (along the entire stretch, including the section down to the subway) much clearer to navigate for cyclists too. This means that a stretch of council-owned car parking must be lost on the West side, north of Lambton Road. See Fig.1b below, for our proposal.

Simpler concept for the junction

The current council design for the junction with Clayton Road is complicated (see Fig.2a below) and does not seem intuitive enough to be easily understood especially by the first time user. In our design we have switched priority at the junction so that priority is now given to continuing from Brandling Park straight on to Abbotsford Terrace. This will also allow cyclists to join and leave the Clayton Road bike path in a single simple turning movement. In addition this layout will have the benefit of providing a much-needed clear route into Jesmond by formalising this existing desire line (the reason will be discussed in the next point).

We have kept a turning pocket for cyclists on Clayton Road to join the two-way cycleway (and have added some additional protection for this pocket) so that cyclists who come along Clayton Road and across the junction with Brandling Park can move on to the path in a simpler movement than having to carry out a dog-legged turn in the main junction area.

SCR branch into Jesmond

Currently the proposed route for SCR4 (Gosforth) brushes alongside Jesmond but does not reach inside to where Jesmond ‘goes about its business’: where people live, work, play, shop or go to school. However SCR4 does provide a direct route to the centre of Gosforth. To fill that route gap we propose that the route branches at Clayton Road / Brandling Park junction to provide a route that connects the heart of Jesmond with the City Centre and Gosforth. To illustrate the route alignment we have drawn a map of our proposed Jesmond branch of SCR4.

By acknowledging Jesmond in the SCR plans (previously omitted) the junction priority should change. This would have the added effect of slowing down motor traffic on Clayton Road as drivers would have to observe the give-way marking. This in turn would make it safer for cyclists to cross Clayton Road or turn onto Clayton Road. The Cycle Street concept ends here, for now, but in future could be continued along the entire branch of the route through Jesmond, with the use of additional designs and network management to help keep motor traffic volumes and speeds low along the route.

This would transform the route into an inclusive ‘green way’ and real community asset for Jesmond – its residents, families, students, young and old.

In summary

• filter out motor traffic from Lambton Road, and allow walking and cycling (provides a road environment for a Cycle Street)
• provide predictable even road width by removing council parking north of Lambton (removes road user conflicts)
• switch junction priority from Clayton Road to Brandling Park (connects Jesmond to the SCR network)
• adjust the SCR4 map to include a SCR4 Jesmond branch (formalises the SCR network for transport planning)

On the back of this proposal, we ask council officials to meet up with us. We would also like to discuss how the transition into the subway could be designed. We caveat the drawings below: their purpose is to convey design principles and concepts, rather than design details. For examples we may have omitted road markings and surfaces such as double yellow lines, advisory cycle lanes or bicycle symbols and surfacing material. The plans are not to scale and widths etc would have to be discussed still. We ask council to figure these caveats into their assessment of our proposal. The devil, as always, is in the detail. But we have to get the concept straight before delving into these.

Brandling Park

Fig.1a – Newcastle City Council:
Newcastle City Council design

Fig.1b – Newcycling:
Newcycling proposal using Newcastle City Council design

Clayton Road junction

Fig.2a – Newcastle City Council:
Newcastle City Council design

Fig.2a – Newcycling:
Newcycling proposal using Newcastle City Council design

Note: The images above are either copies of the original designs shared by Newcastle Council or are based upon them. These use base images created by Ordnance Survey. These base images are © Crown Copyright. Reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey® and are used in line with our understanding of the fair dealing rights. The original drawings by Newcastle Council can be found here