Open letter to Cllr Nick Forbes

Dear Cllr Nick Forbes

Many thanks for speaking up for cycling safety and bike infrastructural improvements on bbc and itv.

You may recall, that we wrote to you in May 2011 and you participated at the City Chief Cycle Challenge that year. Last year’s challenge took place along the so-called Great North Cycleway or NCN725, with Cllr Henri Murison and Harvey Emms in attendance. The NCN725 concept is something we have been struggling with for a while and you appear to as well when asked by the itv news reporter. And rightly so. The route in its current design has not been endorsed by Sustrans and apart from the extensive signage effort its safety standard is very low.

Recent cycling promises are good. Reading written words and hearing the spoken words, you may even believe there is a city cycling revolution taking place. But it is what happens after these promises that matters now. It is the actual road changes your local authority finds so hard to do and has repeatedly failed to deliver. Walker’s Welbeck Road now does not receive cycling safety improvements in the form of cycle lanes; and there are many more examples where your colleagues and officers are not supporting cycling safety, actively discouraging, blocking or ignoring cycle community input and putting ‘vehicle flow’ over people’s safety.

We are worried for Newcastle, as with the Cycle City Ambition Fund injection of nearly £6m comes the urgency to install dedicated cycle space on 3km of roads and roadspace to be re-purposed away from the car – a road diet – something your authority has never done before.

To learn how the Dutch got to where they are now, could we ask you to please attend the ‘Love Cycling Go Dutch’ conference in Newcastle on 5 November jointly organised by the Dutch Embassy, Newcastle City Council, Newcastle University and ourselves? We are also organising another city bike ride and would warmly invite you to take part, your time permitting.

Katja Leyendecker
Chair, Newcastle Cycling Campaign