Councils urged not to back down amid anger over huge road changes to boost walking and cycling

Evening Chronicle – 17 July 2020 (Daniel Holland)

Opposition from motorists and businesses has led campaigners to fear that emergency overhauls of busy streets across the region could be watered down or scrapped

Campaigners are pleading with North East councils to not back down over emergency walking and cycling measures being installed, amid mounting objections from motorists and businesses.

Busy roads across the region are seeing major changes to help pedestrians and cyclists get around while safely social distancing, with highway space and parking for vehicles reduced or road traffic completely banned.

Sally Watson, from the Newcastle Cycling Campaign, added: “Lockdown has shown us just how many people are willing to walk or cycle when the roads are safe. This desire is consistently backed up by surveys showing strong support for making local roads safe to walk and cycle. It’s time the council built a road system for how people want to travel, not just for how they travel now.”

Arlene Ainsley, Newcastle City Council’s cabinet member for transport and air quality said there was “huge demand” for better walking and cycling facilities and to cut traffic in neighbourhoods.

Coun Ainsley added: “We’re committed to this programme of work and are about to embark on a series of small bridge closures using experimental traffic orders. “There can be resistance to change so using experimental traffic orders, allows people to try out the changes before making a decision. “Now more than ever, we need to encourage people out of their cars and go walking or cycling as their first option due to the health and environmental benefits. “Newcastle is a great city, and as we recover from the coronavirus pandemic, we want to ensure that we build a transport network for the future, with greener choices of travel as the default position, not city centres and neighbourhoods choked by traffic and air pollution.”

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