An eyetest for Gateshead

Discussion on our sister website GatesheadCycling sometimes goes into a spin on the subject of cycling numbers in Gateshead. So it’s worth noting that recently we were reminded by the census that Gateshead is far from seeing a cycling revolution. With a meager 0.4 percentage point increase cycle commuting now has a modal share of 1.5% in Gateshead, “boosted” from 1.1% in 2001.

This is almost below detection limits! And should serve as an eye opener to Gateshead.

It’s fair to say that Newcastle does not fare much better on current numbers of cyclists. Yet their vision is much clearer. Newcastle plans to have a cycle modal share of 20% by 2020 for short journeys. That would represent a ten-fold increase on current numbers and would require to look at factors that get new people cycling such as dedicated bike infrastructure and safe junctions. And they are not just talking. Some recent plans did look encouraging, such as Walker or Gosforth, other not so Fenham Hall Drive.

Gateshead’s draft strategy however neglects the prerequisites for a cycling revolution and even invents its own design code, inferior to the national guidance. This puts Gateshead on a slippery slope in many ways. To make cycling available to everyone for everyday journeys you have to provide safe cycle space, partitioned off from the highway. Following best practice from the UK and abroad (Denmark, Netherlands and Germany spring to mind) is vital. We recently commented on the Gateshead’s draft cycle strategy to make them aware of their short-sightedness and lack of vision, read here. And we’ve written to Cllr Mick Henry, leader of Gateshead Council, to express our concerns.

There was once a visionary outlook called 1PLAN NewcastleGateshead’s economic and spatial strategy 2030. But someone may have mislaid their glasses.

Cycling in Newcastle, UK