Space for Cycling 2014 – Political party statements

This is part of the Space for Cycling initiative. Read more here

The Green Party : Just like Copenhagen began its change to bicycles in the 1970s and now even in the winter 34% of commuter trips are by bicycle, we have that vision for Newcastle, a place for people. We want new ways of getting around, towns and cities not suffocated by the tide of traffic but ones where walking is really pleasant, cycling fun, public transit efficient and affordable, and where electric vehicles take the remaining strain. We will tackle road danger to create a better environment to cyclists and pedestrians, and support more cycle lanes and space for cycling, pedestrian zones and play streets. We will work closely with local community groups who have the same vision of a liveable greener city.

At present, most people don’t cycle because of the often inhospitable road conditions, including infrastructure that allows, not mitigates, aggressive driving behaviour and the routine blocking of many cycle lanes by parked cars. And that is what must change. So there must be urgent and widespread action to create better road conditions to make cycling viable and accessible to new people, road space to be set aside for cycling and safe junctions to be built. We Greens want to see the city reap the many benefits that a ‘Cycle City’ will bring: healthier lifestyles, cleaner air, quieter roads, calmer, more people-friendly environments, and better connectivity of neighbourhoods, not to forget real economic savings and socio-economic gains for both the individual and the public purse. Source North East Manifesto

Liberal Democrats : We support steps to increase use of sustainable transport, including car clubs, further use of electric buses in the city, discounted annual payments for taxi operators converting their vehicles to electric operation, and continued roll-out of electric freight servicing of city centre businesses.

We will uphold and extend the city’s cycle strategy, funded by Lib Dem ministers in government, with particular focus on widening participation in cycling, making the city centre safer, and implementing key cycle improvement “spokes”. However, we are mindful of the need to ensure consensus where possible for improvement schemes, including where these affect key corridors including Gosforth High Street.

We will conduct a review of city centre pedestrian safety following recent incidents, and will consider the feasibility of extending pedestrianised areas of the city centre.

We will support the extension of “home zone” and “DIY street” initiatives to create more walkable neighbourhoods, and will expect to see this integrated into all new housing developments.

Labour : We are committed to making Newcastle a safer place for cycling and for all cyclists. We are aware that many people who would like to cycle don’t do so because they don’t feel safe. We don’t see cycling in isolation, but as part of a wider transport plan to deliver our key priorities: a working city, decent neighbourhoods and a reduction in inequality. We want to make our city safer, healthier, and improve air quality for all those who live, work and visit Newcastle.

We think strong political leadership is essential if we are to make Newcastle fit for cycling which is why we have always gathered cross party support for our cycling strategy and for our major cycling schemes.

As a Labour led authority we are taking steps to improve the safety of cyclists and pedestrians in a range of ways which reflect a coherent transport policy across the city and beyond:

• Successful cross party Cycle City Ambition Fund programme, for which we received £5.7M from the Department for Transport includes ambitious public health schemes for the east and west ends of the city to encourage more people to get active and on their bikes.
• We are working with residents to make local neighbourhoods better places for cycling and walking, through DIY Streets and other initiatives
• We will transform some of our car-dominated local shopping areas into places for all the family with better control of parking and more space for cycles
• We introduced 20mph speed limits in most residential streets making it safer for cyclists, one of the only councils across England to have done so.
• The second Newcastle Gateshead Sky Ride will see up to 10,000 folk of all ages enjoying a day on two wheels on traffic free roads. The Sky Ride programme offers them ongoing opportunities for led rides at all levels of experience and our free adult cycle training can help them get started.
• The £450M regeneration of the city centre aims to make it a better place for pedestrians and cyclists with innovative cycling provision such as the two-way cycle way opposite Central Station and a cycle track coming into the heart of the city from the north.
• We appreciate that improvements for cycling make economic sense for the North East and cycle schemes are included in the region’s Strategic Economic Plan. Newcastle is the lead authority in our expanded region for transport and we will be working with all of our partners to ensure that all of our people and our businesses benefit from active travel. The Go Smarter to Work programme encourages this through free cycle training, cycle maintenance and electric bike loans.
• Newcastle has been recognized for the past two years as a leading sustainable city and we aim to consolidate this with the improvements we are making for cycling and walking. By making active travel a much safer and easier option we are encouraging people to leave the car at home, especially for short journeys. Local neighbourhoods will become less car dominated and more people friendly and there will be less congestion and poor air quality on our major roads.
• We work closely with British Cycling and support the Time to Choose Cycling campaign. On the specific points which British Cycling are prioritizing, these are only some examples of what we are doing;

Cycle-proof: accommodating cycling in everything we do
• We are working with other core cities to share best practice on cycle design helping to build a consensus on infrastructure and with the Department for Transport on developing its cycling guidance
• We are applying to the DfT for authorization to trial innovative new infrastructure and taking part in DfT consultations on updating the traffic signs regulations

Meaningful and consistent levels of investment for infrastructure
• Despite severe budget cuts, we are investing more than £40 per head on cycling.

Consistent political leadership
• Our cycling programme is overseen by senior politicians and officers and we have a councillor Cycling Champion, an officer Cycling Champion and a very vocal cycling community to scrutinize and encourage our efforts
• We have tasked senior officers with responsibility for developing cycling as a priority form of transport but we also see it as everyone’s responsibility to make this a better city

Conservatives – requested and awaiting reply