We’ve written to Cllr Nigel Todd

Date: 3 July 2011 12:34
Subject: Transport & Environment – cycling update

Hi Nigel

Further to the Brighton Grove email, a ward matter, and it’s the perfect example: as you know it’s not all rosy in the world of transport at the council especially with respect to cycling.

Overall, we would like to see a council that does what it says it would do.

This is currently is not the case. Over the last 9-12 months we have been trying to work with senior Cllrs and council officers alike, but have largely been falling on deaf ears. We really attempted to open up honest communication channels, build trust and good relationships, we even used different techniques and approaches, but sadly Cllrs and council officers we approached remained defensive on the matter of cycling on the whole.

There’s a lot to be done and put right. But it’s an opportunity too! So please do not despair. There’s vast ‘mileage’ here for improvements at very little cost! As you know, currently it is about the integration of cycling into council’s planning and thinking, almost an ideological change, before we can make strides to physically improve the cycle infrastructure.

This email is just for your information: so that you know our point of view, and hopefully over time get to understand it intimately too. As mentioned before, the Newcastle Cycling Campaign is here to offer an alternative perspective to the ‘status-quo’ view of the council.

Here is a summary of our venture into “Cycling at the City Council”. Best to be aware of.

Hot spots

>> Parked-in cycle lanes (for example: Brighton Grove, Great North Park, Gosforth High Street, Benfield Road, Ouseburn Quayside) – dangerous for cycling
>> Removal of cycle lanes (for example: SilverLonnen, Elswick Road, Newburn business park, Scotswood Road) – over the last 12 months or so
>> Development/regeneration sites (for example: Science Central, East Pilgrim Street, Percy Street, Stephenson Quarter, Gosforth Traffic Corridor) – cycle inclusion unclear/uncommitted

Outstanding (largely due to limited leadership by last administration)

>> Achieving consultation and communication at point zero, our doubt in council consultations includes the ITA comment about the ‘hijacking’ comment and the very limited influence that was offered on the LSTF, and other recent consultations 1CORE, CCAAP
>> Baselining: the cycle counters are in disarray (we offered our help, which was denied)
>> Freedom of Information request dated 3 April 2011 – unanswered
>> 1PLAN implementation and communication (could package into Road Users Debate?)
>> Possibly ineffective council cycle webpage – we are disappointed that the website is not to include an open online forum, the restrictions on files hindering easy posting of maps, photos etc seem to remain
>> Scrutiny question submitted 2 January 2011 – unanswered
>> Road safety approach is often counter-productive to cycling (a meeting with council officers is in the process of being organised)
>> National government is on a devolution spree, pushing down responsibilities to local level, rightly or wrongly. In our assessment local government will find it hard to compensate for national leadership such as diminished planning rules unless cross-party unity is sought on transport strategy (use 1PLAN). It will be enormously essential to bring about fairness in a car-dependent society.

We know you are very busy. However, we thought it important to further bring you up to speed on cycling matters in the city. Hope you find it helpful?

Of course, there’s good stuff happening too: the cycle strategy with its enshrined modal targets and cycle network are to look forward to. And if we could advance the support for the Newcastle Cycling Manifesto with your help, that’d be fab too.

Katja & Claire