Public Health and Urban Design – a letter

A letter to Newcastle’s Health and Wellbeing Board in response to their consultation:

We welcome that remodelling of physical environment is seen as a necessary measure, notably in the obesity-related supporting document – for the sake of a healthy and active community are key to the success of designing pro-people environments in which residents can live, work, shop, learn for life, travel safely and meet and connect with others socially.

As Chris Boardman says

“I think the answers will lead us in one direction: we need more and better provision for people who want to travel by bike. When we have that, our towns and cities will be better places in which to live. It needs investment but the costs, of poor health caused by inactivity which are currently £4billion annually, mean the potential savings are huge.” Source

“If the environment were different, I truly believe almost everyone would like to travel by bike and if lots more of us did, we’d be healthier and our cities, towns and villages would be better places to live. We’ve spent the past 50 years building unimaginative infrastructure catering for the expanding use of the motor vehicle. We’ve designed physical activity out of our environment and consequently a lot of our roads and junctions are a mess. They don’t encourage people to use bicycles.” Source

Can we please make the observation that a redesign of our roads and streets for people and fairer space allocation rest on the openness, willingness and expertise of the council’s highway department. Over a few years now, we have observed this department. We fell that community engagement, so vital to successful public realm projects, does not take place at any meaningful level. We’d ask you to meet up with us to discuss our experience further using one specific example such as Fenham Hall Drive. This way we hope we can learn from past experience and move into a much more positive direction.

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We hope you find this useful.

Katja Leyendecker
Chair Newcastle Cycling Campaign (twitter) (facebook)