Data: one-way streets, contraflows and permeability

From my own experience, but also guidance documents and info sheets (see bottom), it’s pretty clear that opening up one-way streets to cycling is one of the most inexpensive and effective ways to quickly improve cycling experience. It of course works – no magic involved – by giving connectivity, reconnecting shortcuts where there previously was a detour and more generally by increasing permeability and route choice. I even ended last year’s youreport article, where members discussed good examples of cycling infrastructure from here and abroad, with this sentence: “The local cycle group in Braunschweig curates a spatial representation of contraflows in my hometown – maybe something we c/should do too?” And, boy, they are doing rather well in Braunschweig, with plenty of contraflows! And for the latter… yes, we should.

I have wondered about this for quite some time. So, given contraflow conversion costs next to nothing and doesn’t even need to take roadspace (in most cases, and if so, it’s only very little) – it is even harder to understand that Newcastle council has not seized the opportunity and seriously started looking at the latest DfT guidance, that relaxes necessary contraflow requirements. If they did, it would be a lot easier to cycle in the city centre. Perhaps council officials could talk to their equivalents in Brighton & Hove, who seemed to have been perfectly capable of making this happen. And they could talk to us. We recommend a grouped Traffic Order to be drawn up, to minimise the ‘ministerial paperwork’. We would also help council to identify the streets where a contraflow would make a real difference.

A recent Freedom of Information request to Newcastle council provided us with a list of one-way streets in the city. We then set about mapping those, see below. The map clearly shows, that it is the urban core that would benefit most from allowing contraflow cycling. From the 80 or so one-way streets in Newcastle, 30 are concentrated in the city centre.

There is also the opportunity to allow cycling access through no-entry (false one-way streets) streets. Another inexpensive and easy method would be to extend the 20mph area in the urban core beyond the Inner Distributor Ring road – making it clearer that it’s indeed a place for people, and not for fast motor traffic – it’s explained further here. Maybe even Grey Street could be a people place once more.

We, at Newcycling, are “banging on” about space for cycling and roadspace reallocation – and we have to, as that’s how we will ultimately bring about a fair deal for cycling making it a good, safe, convenient choice for everybody. Our insistence on cycle contraflows is just to show that even the ancillary, easy and inexpensive stuff the council hasn’t managed to do to date. Officials may periodically tell us ‘not to worry, it’s all in train – it’ll happen, one day’. But we have heard that for too many years and there is no real plan. Where is their Cycle City Ambition? As always, we are here to help. The only thing they need to do is ask.”

View Contraflows (July 2014) in a larger map

Guidance documents and info sheets
Department for Transport [html]
Cycling England [pdf]
TAL 6/98 [pdf]
PRESTO [pdf]
CtC [pdf]