Koko Herder, a visiting Dutch student, has written a report on cycling infrastructure and its design process in Newcastle, and compared his findings to Rotterdam. The report speaks of the many tensions that exist in the design process in Newcastle and the resultant incomplete cycle infrastructure, especially by example of Great North Road (GNR). Koko says that the look, feel and use of cycling infrastructure are much more aligned in Rotterdam (using the theoretical assessment frame of Lefebvre’s triad). In his own words, taken from the research report:
In the case of GNR, cycle spaces of representation are characterized by a rhetoric of not understanding how the cycle space is supposed to be used. A share of the people cycling there feels therefore unsafe, uncomfortable, detached, and perhaps we can even speak of feeling alienated. This goes not only for people cycling, but also for people driving on GNR. A share of drivers also does not feel connected to the cycle infrastructure that has been developed there, but mostly because they hold negative feelings towards cyclists and cycling infrastructure. Some cyclists, furthermore, stated that they feel like the cycle space of GNR has a low-quality feel to it.
As well as tensions on the road, there are also tensions in the design process. Engineers and planners are finding it hard to design cycling infrastructure due to the lack of design experience. Newcycling is lobbying Newcastle City Council to adopt the London Cycling Design Standards (LCDS) to create a compehensive approach to cycle design at the council: from strategic network design to spot improvements. We are also proud to have been playing a part in organising LCDS training sessions for the engineers and planners at the council.
You can access the full research report here