Plenty Twenty in Newcastle

PRESS RELEASE 10.11.2012

The city prides itself in being an early adopter of the 20mph speed limit. But is Newcastle going far enough? We investigate.

Talk to people in the street or pose the question at public meetings “What is Newcastle’s speed limit?” and people are surprised to hear that Newcastle is a City of Twenty. Newcastle Cycling Campaign is intrigued, and spurred on by the added cycle safety 20mph can bring, members of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign took a closer look.

Katja Leyendecker of Newcastle Cycling Campaign “We hear that a staggering 90% of Newcastle’s roads has been converted to 20mph. To us, people on bikes, it doesn’t feel like that. It should feel nice and calm, and make for pleasant cycling conditions. The city centre is particularly bad as over 800 people highlighted in the 2010 petition to the council. So we decided to put it all to the test.

“Bizarrely, when we asked, Newcastle City Council could not produce a map of their flagship project. So, we jumped on our bicycles and armed with pen and paper, we mapped the speed limits on the city centre streets. We were shocked to discover a big fat donut ring of 30mph wrapped around the centre (see photo attached). We also found many oddities, anomalies and inconsistencies which drivers can easily use to justify higher speeds, thereby endangering pedestrians and cyclists and scaring them off the roads. Some are never to cycle again. Can you believe the narrow Bigg Market and the historical Grey Street are 30mph? It explains why it feels so very unpleasant to walk or cycle there.

“For speed restraint to work, a clear message is key – like a blanket 20. Ideally the entire city should be speed-calmed to 20mph to attract more people, shoppers and visitors. But we found the council hard-pressed to put pedestrian and cycle convenience over drivers’. Slowing down traffic is a no-no it appears. So surely they must be prepared to provide safe space for cyclists and pedestrians along these busy and hostile roads to create a calm and pleasant city with happy and healthy residents and visitors to interact and enjoy.

“Most journeys we make are under five miles. A distance easily done on foot and bike. So our verdict is this. Plenty twenty, true, yes, thank you. But Newcastle hasn’t gone far enough in the implementation. Possibly because the 20mph conversion may have been done just like cycling and road safety – good initial intentions but resulting in a fragmented start-stop coverage, leaving plenty of wriggle room and loopholes for drivers.

“And certainly a lack of oversight from our city chiefs to check if the job had been done properly. It’s not too late to put this right. Newcastle’s people and visitors deserve a pleasant city.”

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Contact Katja Leyendecker 07828 60 4349
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Campaigners highlight road speeds in City of Twenty
Photo Legend
– Red 30mph
– Blue 20mph