News clippings – Councils hit back at cycling critics

Chronicle (17 May 2013)

Councils hit back at cycling critics
(No link – so article has been replicated below)

COUNCIL chiefs have it back at claims that they are not doing enough to support two-wheeled travel on Tyneside.

Chairman [sic.] of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign, Katja Leyendeker, claimed that while the city is “making the right noises” about encouraing more pople to convert to pedal power, so far there had been lttle to show for it.

She also accused Gateshead Council of being “way behind in taking cycling seriously as a mode of transport” and as a result would “miss out on the benefits of public health, thriving local economies and a more equal society”.

“Newcastle City Council is very frustrating. Nothing is clear and even the simplest of actions like installing cycle contraflows on one-way streets don’t happen,” she said. “We want schemes like a cycle lane on Tankerville Terrace and a ‘decelerated street environment’ on Acorn Road to go ahead and the communities to benefit from safety and space clarity.”

But the authorities have rejected the criticisms, saying they are investing millions of pounds in their cycling infrastructure – and they called some of NCC’s proposed “improvements” unworkable. Gateshead council‘s head of transport strategy, said he believed the campaigner’s depiction of cycling in the borough bore “little relation to reality” as more than £2m was being spent on a raft of new measures.

“In accusing us of being ‘way behind in taking cycling seriously as a mode of transport’, she has ignored the £1.6m we have invested with Spenhill in cycling facilities within Gateshead town centre – including major junction improvements, new cycle routes, the pedestrianisation of West Street, new Toucan crossings, new cycle signage and new cycle parking for more than 100 bikes.

“She has also ignored the £450,000 we are investing in improvements to the Blaydon, Staiths, High Spen to Crawcrook, and Team Valley routes.”

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said he was “surprised and disappointed” by the comments.

“Newcastle is building a reputation as a city that is great for cycling, he said. “The Department for Transport has recognised our commitment and awarded us £1.3m recently for cycle improvements in Gosforth area.

“We have worked closely with the Newcastle Cycling Forum and cyclists across the city to make a range of physical improvements and encourage a more positive attitude towards cycling.

“And we have worked together with NCC on a bid for £5.6m from the Cycle City Ambition Fund and are eagerly awaiting a decision.”