Space4cycling – the building blocks

With the local elections in May fast approaching, we are ramping up for action. And to be clear, we want you to get involved on a grand scale! Politicians are always hungry for people power as it gives them a mandate to act, challenge and change things. So we intend to give them just that. Here’s the heads-up: in the run-up to the elections we will ask you to contact your councillors and candidates and tell them what you want them to do. And, yes, we will make it as easy and painless as possible for you to get in touch with your local representatives.

But what should you tell your politicos? Over the last couple of months we talked to you about space4cycling. This is a national call – led by the CtC and London Cycling Campaign – to educate, engage and involve local politicians. But what is it specifically that we want them to do? We’ve distilled down the transport transition into these six building blocks:

The first principle is ‘road diet – space for cycling’ which we ‘prescribed’ in Part 1. In Newcastle there currently is too much space afforded to car use and too little to walking and cycling. Other cities like Seville and New York City have undergone a road diet and are now all the better for it . And we can do it too. But it is a change in mindset that will have to happen, as the local highways authorities (the council) are still planning, designing and catering for motorised traffic at the expense of convenient walking, comfortable cycling conditions and often good public transport too. We qualified the road diet further by giving examples for road classification in Part 2 arguing for walking and cycling benefitting from clearer and fairer space definition where everyone knows where they stand, and what kind of interaction is taking place. We must design-out conflict situation on our roads.

In the same vein of fairer space allocation, we also spoke about creating neighbourhood zones in Part 3 through using gateway designs, necking-down corners and unbundling motor traffic routes from walking and cycling – we call this filtered permeability. Creating convenient crossings and junctions is also a very important part of liveable cities and we talked about it in Part 4. For many inner-city junctions we must therefore challenge the view that car traffic is worth more than pedestrian or cycled movements. Completing Newcastle’s 20mph conversion is also important . We mentioned it in Part 5 that many city centre roads are still left at 30 mph which makes them difficult to navigate by foot and on the bike. And we want to see pedal-positive information campaigns and we listed examples in Part 6.

Here’s the plan. Get thinking.

Until end of April, we ask you to identify your transport hot spots. It might be a local rat-run or streets where speeding takes place. Tell us where you are experiencing barriers such as uncomfortable crossings and junctions or sheer lack of any sensible space for cycling. Maybe an entire route – to school, to work – is troubling you. We are currently trialling Cyclescape to map these locations – get registered and give it a go. Remember, that it is much more important to describe the problem you are having rather than finding a solution. There may be many different solutions and you may not think of all the options straight away – so do not worry, as yet, about finding solutions.

In early May, we’ll give you a template letter you can use to tell the local elected representatives about your problems and enlist their commitment. You may also let them know about what’s happening over the summer: we are planning to organise a series of infrastructure safaris over the summer months. This means we are cycling the planned Strategic Cycle Routes to discuss the road changes that are required to bring about the modal shift away from the car, and onto the bike. Everyone is welcome to come along, and join the debate.

So get thinking! Where are YOUR trouble spots? What prevents you – your family, friends or colleagues – to walk or cycle to school? On your commute, where are the hotspots for conflict with other road users?