consultation response image

North East Transport Plan consultation: Action for members!

The North East Transport Plan consultation is open until Thursday 14 January 2020. This is the first region-wide transport plan and sets priorities up to 2035. We welcome the development of the plan and we are commending political leaders on the vision statement and objectives (see page 6 of the plan). However the content of the plan does not support this vision and fails to set out the transformative interventions and the “standard” to deliver a green, healthy, dynamic and thriving North East.

It is important that you respond to the consultation and make your voice heard in support of active travel. Please find the time to complete the online survey. We are sharing our response to the online consultation (below) and encourage members to base their responses on this when completing the consultation here:

Online consultation Newcastle Cycling Campaign notes for response:

Questions 1-11 collect personal information.

Question 12. Vision: Strongly agree

Please give a reason for your answer

The vision and objectives of the plan are excellent; however, these are not translated throughout the rest of the document. It would be strengthened through a clear overarching aim of reducing car dependency and congestion through improved and safer walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure and freight management and a stronger emphasis on place- making. The objectives of reducing carbon emissions and creating a healthier, more equal and economically vibrant North East should follow from this. The plan is too much about movement and does not reflect the importance of streets as places where we all live, play, socialise, exercise, shop etc. Quality of life and a ‘healthy streets’ approach should replace the emphasis on the importance of movement. A good transport system should serve us all to make the place we live better, movement is a means to an end not just the end in itself.

Question 13. Carbon Neutral objective: Strongly agree

What do you think the barriers are to achieving this objective?

  • Transport plan as it stands does not support this objective
  • Focus on walking and cycling infrastructure not strong enough
  • No definition of what constitutes essential car journeys
  • Focus on commute and not on 85% of other journeys or on place-making
  • Predict and provide transport planning and ‘smoothing the traffic’ – consequence of this is increasing capacity for private car travel, as per many of the schemes outlined in the plan
  • In addition, a target of carbon neutral North East by 2030, which aligns with the aim of five out of seven of the authorities, is a more appropriate deadline

Question 14. Overcome inequality and grow economy objective: Strongly agree

What do you think the barriers are to achieving this objective?

  • Too much focus on private car use and not enough on active travel – especially important for those who can’t drive, including children
  • Emphasis should be on accessible and inclusive transport which gives people genuine alternatives to using the car and reduces transport poverty
  • Lack of focus on better and more resilient places – people are attracted to live in and shop in attractive places which have low levels of motor traffic
  • Perception that motorised traffic and parking are good for business is not sufficiently challenged through existing evidence, data and monitoring. This is essential as town and city centres and high streets are being re-imagined as part of the covid-19 recovery.

Question 15. Healthier objective: Strongly agree

What do you think the barriers are to achieving this objective?

  • Car-centric transport planning outlined in this plan with schemes and projects unlikely to deliver a ‘Healthier North East’
  • Need to consider place as well as movement
  • Not enough focus on infrastructure such as low traffic neighbourhoods and cycleways to enable, not encourage, people to make the ‘healthy transport choice’ and therefore increase mode share for short trips
  • Misguided faith in behaviour change through ‘winning hearts and minds’

Question 16. Appealing sustainable transport choices objective: Strongly agree

What do you think the barriers are to achieving this objective?

  • Adopt best practice guidance and standards in planning and designing new infrastructure eg. LTN 1/20
  • Focus should be on designing and building appropriate infrastructure in order to enable people of all ages and abilities to make the ‘right choice’
  • People won’t change through promotion of active travel alone

Question 17. Safe and secure network objective: Strongly agree

What do you think the barriers are to achieving this objective?

  • Needs better definition of safe and secure and clear pathway to achieving this
  • The main reason that people do not cycle is fear of traffic and this is not stressed enough in the policy
  • Importance of protected cycling infrastructure to be clearly stated – wealth of evidence to support that cycleways reduce fatalities for all road users and that subjective safety is as important as objective safety
  • Should adopt a Sustainable Safety approach – this is a whole system approach to safety

Question 18. Are there any objectives you would have liked to see which are missing? If so, what are they?

Reducing car dependency and congestion should be an explicit aim. Beneath this there should be a split between public transport and active travel (split into walking and cycling), setting targets for each. Eg percentage of trips under 5km to be cycled. There is also inadequate data on types of trip or mode in the plan which makes it difficult to plan for change.

Question 19. Approach to monitoring and evaluation: Strongly disagree

Do you agree with the approach to monitoring and evaluation?

  • No this section needs to be improved
  • Monitoring and evaluation needs to connect with objectives. Currently doesn’t link to better air quality, net zero carbon path and better health.
  • Active travel and public transport need to be split
  • Need to clearly state KPIs for each objective and for mode shift (split into active travel and public transport)
  • Meeting DfT requirements is not relevant to this plan, obviously schemes will have to meet any stipulated funding requirements

Question 20. Making the right travel choice (1): Strongly agree

Question 21. Making the right travel choice (2): Strongly agree

Question 22. Active travel: Strongly agree

Question 23. Public transport (1): Strongly agree

Question 24. Public Transport (2): Strongly agree

Question 25. Public Transport (3): Strongly agree

Question 26. Private transport (1): Strongly disagree

Question 27. Private transport (2): Neither agree nor disagree

Question 28. Public transport (rail and metro, 1): Strongly agree

Question 29. Public transport (rail and metro, 2): Strongly agree

Question 30. Connectivity beyond our boundaries (1): Strongly agree

Question 31. Connectivity beyond our boundaries (2): Strongly agree

Question 32. Research development, active travel innovation: Neither agree nor disagree

Question 33. Overarching policy areas (1): Strongly agree

Question 34. Overarching policy areas (2): Strongly agree

Question 35. Overarching policy areas (3): Strongly agree

Question 36. Overarching policy areas (4): Strongly agree

Question 37. Are there any comments you would like to make on the policy statements?

Yes we would like to make the following comments on the policy statements:

‘We will enable people to make greener and healthier travel choices whenever they can and ensure our sustainable network takes everyone where they need to go at a price they can afford.’

  • The plan does not set out a clear path to building infrastructure necessary to fulfil this aim

‘We must ensure all our actions improve transport across the region and deliver to the objectives of this Plan so we are greener, more inclusive, healthier, safer and our economy thrives.’

  • Plan as it stands does not support the aims of this statement

‘We will help more people use active travel by making the cycle network better across the North East. This will include being flexible in how we use road space to help cyclists and pedestrians.’

  • It is not clear what is meant by ‘being flexible’ – it should state that this means road space reallocation (as stated in public transport policy statement)
  • Suggested alternative: ‘We will help more people use active travel by designing a consistent and high quality cycle network which reallocates road space to cycling through applying up-to-date design guidance, and provides a high quality experience for pedestrians’

‘We must help more people to reach the sustainable transport network with more ‘on demand’ solutions.’

  • The aim should be for the sustainable transport network to start at everyone’s front door so that everyone is able to walk or cycle to their destination or to reach public transport

‘We must make our roads flow better for goods and essential car journeys.’

  • ‘Using road infrastructure’ – this also covers walking, cycling and public transport, roads are not just built for cars and transporting goods
  • This policy statement is contrary to objectives set out in the plan
  • Need to define essential car journeys
  • Should include reference to demand management
  • Suggested alternative: ‘we will reduce car dependency and congestion through managing road traffic demand’

‘We must strengthen use of cleaner, greener cars, vans and lorries.’

  • Not clear what is meant by ‘strengthen’ – suggest changing this to ‘support when alternatives cannot be provided’
  • Need to ensure that charging infrastructure does not impact negatively on walking and cycling

‘We will embrace new technologies to meet our transport objectives and set innovation challenges to industry creating new opportunities with our network as the testbed.’

  • Innovation should focus on place-making and technologies such as better data to support mode shift and journey planning
  • New technologies should only be used if they provide clear benefits to people walking, cycling and using public transport

‘We will strive to integrate within and between different types of transport, so that each contributes its full potential and people can move easily between them.’

  • Policy should support taking bikes on public transport more widely

‘We must constantly seek funding opportunities to deliver our Transport Plan objectives.’

  • Yes so long as the funding meets the objectives
  • However, plan as it is currently presented allows almost anything to be funded
  • This transport plan contains a list of pre-existing plans, some of which are no longer fit for purpose
  • This should be a forward looking plan, not one which includes outdated plans

‘We will take action to make travel in the North East net carbon zero and improve transport safety and security.’

  • The plan should take a sustainable safety approach which is centred on place-making and infrastructure
  • See LNT 1/20 for more information on appropriate infrastructure for cycling, modelling and design guidance
  • Please also see Newcastle City Council’s Net Zero Newcastle: 2030 Action Plan

‘We must ensure that we work with partner organisations to drive new, quality roles and innovate in the transport sectors.’

  • Ambassadors for healthy/active transport within anchor organisations and key employers actively promoting change, mode shift and best practice.
  • Should share and promote active travel best practice through site visits, conferences, and CPD. Regional Transport Authority should play a greater role in supporting and facilitating this.

Question 38. Are there any policy statements which you think are missing? If so, what are they?

  • Policy on healthy streets and importance of network and appropriate road hierarchy in enabling active travel. This should include cycleways on main roads, low traffic neighbourhoods, school streets, pedestrianised local shopping areas.

Question 39. Timeline: Far too long

What do you think of this timeline?

Far too long, types and number of schemes not ambitious enough and doesn’t adequately support mode shift required to successfully implement the plan. In more detail:

  • need to accelerate governance, development and delivery of active travel and healthy streets/LTN schemes over the next 5 years.
  • The Active Travel programme needs to be much more ambitious and properly articulated with streams for cycling and walking.
  • LA schemes should be given as examples; the way it is currently presented is not joined up and most schemes are included in the 5 years timescale category with limited or no details beyond that. Doesn’t recognise that building a comprehensive cycling network requires a longer period of time.

Question 40. Any schemes missing?

Yes. A timeline for publishing LCWIPS for all local authorities should be included alongside a list of schemes and plan to implement over the next 15 years. The plan should make publication of LCWIP as pre-condition for funding applications.

Question 41. Any schemes which should not be included?

Any scheme which provides additional capacity for private motor traffic should not be included because it goes against the objectives of the plan. A transport plan with a set of preexisting schemes is not a transport plan, it’s just disparate list of schemes which authorities would like to progress. Exemplar schemes should be included as examples of the kind of schemes which meet the criteria set out in the plan. Congestion should be improved through reducing car dependency. Please see TfL’s Mayor’s Transport Strategy 2018 for an example of a well-evidenced transport plan with a policy of reducing car dependency to address problems of congestion and climate change, to improve health and the economy.

Question 42. Any other comments

The vision and objectives outlined in this plan are excellent. Unfortunately, the content of this plan does not live up to the ambition of its aims. It would be strengthened through a clear overarching aim of reducing car dependency and congestion through improved walking, cycling and public transport infrastructure and freight management. This should be supported by an evidence base which draws on best-practice transport planning, up-to-date academic evidence and contemporary guidance such as the Government’s recent Gear Change policy paper and LTN 1/20 guidance. There needs to be a greater focus on infrastructure to enable walking and cycling, especially given that according to the plan around 36% of all trips in the region are under 5km and presumably this percentage is much higher in urban areas. Behaviour change is conceptualised in the plan as being about ‘winning hearts and minds’, but there is no evidence that this policy is effective without supporting infrastructure. A transport plan should not be putting the onus on people to ‘make the right choice’, it should mobilise policy instruments which reduce car dependency. The plan is too focused on the commute, which it states is only 15% of all trips, and there should be a greater emphasis on place-making and local journeys to enable more people to walk and cycle and to enjoy their local neighbourhoods. Children are only mentioned in this plan in relation to the school journey and a true ‘plan for all’ should include children and young people and address barriers to their independent travel and play. It should also consider adopting the social model of disability, which holds that barriers to disabled people are caused by the lack of a supportive physical environment or attitudes in society. A section in the plan should be devoted to analysing and proposing solutions to make streets and modes of transport inclusive for disabled people. Finally, the presence of so many schemes which ‘smooth the traffic’ and increase capacity for private motor traffic is a serious barrier to meaningful change and signals a business-as-usual approach. The predict and provide approach outlined in the plan is outmoded. Research has found that increasing capacity induces traffic and in the long term does not reduce congestion.