Council Scheme criticised in Road Safety Report

Road safety consultants WSP have reported on North Tyneside Councils scheme at Marden Road which has attracted widespread criticism from residents and cycling groups. The report is limited in scope and by its own admission “No attempt has been made to comment on the justification of the scheme or the appropriateness of the design”.

Visiting on an off peak Tuesday lunchtime, the engineer reports “the narrowing of the carriageway to introduce the parking area has resulted in the traffic being squeezed together. HGV/Buses were observed to encroach into the opposing lane. In addition, it has also resulted in drivers/passengers having to open their car door within the live carriageway with limited room for manoeuvre”.

The only way WSP’s engineer can see to make the scheme safe is to demolish the grass verge on the other side of the road taking yet more space away from pedestrians on their way into town.

Tom Bailey, Newcastle Cycling Campaign said “the report makes no serious effort to evaluate the impact of the scheme on bicycle traffic. What happens if a car door opens at the wrong time when a bus or HGV is coming the other way? There just simply isn’t room. Taking away pedestrian space clearly isn’t desirable here on the entry point to a shopping area. These parking bays must go.

What the report is entirely silent on is just how families are supposed to get in and out of Whitley Bay on bikes when the roads are made to look like this.”

Katja Leyendecker, Campaign chair, said “I am slightly taken aback upon reading the report. The bigger picture appears to have been missed completely. An assumption is that “It is acknowledged that due to the layout and constraints, all road users are likely to show extra care and attention.” Whilst I’d really wish this were true, reality is quite different. Sadly often the might-is-right attitude by drivers towards the walking and cycling public is winning out and chasing people off the road, and into their cars.

“It’s a vicious downward spiral. Decades of designing for the car has left us all devastated and stranded. I’d like to know whether North Tyneside has a modal shift policy.”

The full report is online listed among papers for discussion by North Tyneside’s Cabinet on 9th July 2012.