Our position on Welbeck Road

We do not think the council decision (letter attached) addresses the original problems and it indeed even invents new concerns. There appear to be two aspects the Newcastle City Council tries to explain and solve but fails to provide backup or supporting data for these. We remain convinced there is sufficient space for cycle lanes; and it is a much safer option to provide these given the speed, volume and composition of motorised traffic than the alternative: not do anything at all – totally regardless of whether this stretch is earmarked as a Strategic Cycle Route or not.

Please feel free and write to the council using this email address gillian.haggerston@newcastle.gov.uk quoting “Proposed Walker Cycle Route – Welbeck Road”. Surely you will have your own beef with the council’s letter (attached). We have however listed some ideas, steer and angles below which you could use.

1. Safety

(a) it was felt that the introduction of these proposals at Welbeck Road would be unsafe due to the narrowness of the road and the volume of motorised vehicles using it (including a large number of buses). It was considered likely that this would lead to potential conflict with other traffic in the road

It is majorly worrying to see a council with professed Cycle City Ambition unable to provide safe space for cycling, even when the cycling community rallied together to check and scout the route, endorse it for cycling safety and gave up their volunteer time to meet, discuss and even fight for the cycle lane installation at the RAS-Committee. All this in a wards that suffer vastly from health and socio-economic inequalities. This decision is also in stark contrast to other locations where the opposite took place: we warned that proposed changes would worsen cycle safety and our view was even backed up by an independent safety review – and yet council went blindly ahead to build these dangerous layouts including pinchpoints and loss of cycle continuity such as Elswick Road and Westmorland Road.

We have three queries for Newcastle City Council.

1a) Provide the RAS-Committee report.
1b) We ask to see the the road safety audit that subsequently was carried out on the proposed design.
1c) What other options were considered or recommendations given to improve the safety of the design?

2. Vehicle flow

(b) the expeditious and safe movement of vehicular traffic would, on balance, not be enhanced by the proposed Traffic Regulation Orders.

This statement is very worrying indeed and is a departure from council’s own policy and intentions to open up cycling to everyone. It also feels heartless and written without care for people on bikes too. The oft-cited “balance for all road users” once more is out of kilter. We therefore have to express our severe concern about this statement. The wards concerned have exceptionally low car ownership – so who is council providing for? It is a well accepted fact that the council in its quest to provide for cycling and walking has to go on a ‘road diet’; and this is what good design practice prescribes too. Designing bike infrastructure asks the highway authority to reduce traffic and speed – and provide bike separation from motor traffic. If they cannot do this on this route where traffic volumes are already low – then where will they be able to do so?

We have another three questions for Newcastle City Council.

2a) In practice, how does council intend to provide for cycling safety, convenience and comfort in the future?
2b) What lessons relating to effective consultation, information flow and fair inclusion have you learned from this?
2c) Where is written down in council’s policy that Welbeck Road is for “expeditious and safe movement of vehicular traffic”?

The messy build-up can be found