A letter to Newcastle City Council with a vision

Newcycling, Newcastle’s cycling campaign, now in its fifth year, spells out to Newcastle City Council what’s now needed to transition to a diverse, fair and vibrant city with an inclusive transport system at its heart. Newcastle is likely to be given upwards of £10m from the DfT, a recent ministerial announcement indicated.

After four years of campaigning, the group has now reviewed what’s been done and found many barriers had persisted to exist. It’s vital that these are removed so the city can sustainably shift the way we travel, clean up its air, reduce noise pollution, give healthier choices to people, kickstart local economies and reduce community disadvantages.

Katja Leyendecker, chair of newcycling.org, says “We know it’s a big ask, and big things are needed. But with leadership, intelligence and co-ordination it should be possible. It’s clear to see we are choking on our roads and how we currently use them. Better alternatives are badly needed. We are running out of air and space in our city.

“With over four years in existence, we are the council’s memory. Cllr Wendy Taylor and Barry Rowland are long gone from their positions of power, where now Cllr Nick Forbes and Pat Ritchie have taken up the reins. We have written to Cllr Forbes to impart our findings to him and spell out what’s now needed (see link below).

“The big money announcement makes it timely that council is putting together a clear plan. So we are calling for an expert to be brought to the city, a dedicated delivery team to be set up, communication and plans to be made much more transparent and understandable, and of course any cycling infrastructure to be built to premier quality. It’s only good enough if people of all ages and abilities, from 8 to 80, feel safe to use it.

“We are also council’s critical friend and quality check their work proposals for highway schemes. It’s still an adversarial relationship. Council just needs to look elsewhere, with open and fresh eyes. But they also need local and independent help and must start to work closer with community groups.

“As a community group ourselves we are doing our bit by forming alliances with others for a stronger voice towards a better city for people. As an example, we recently spoke to the Elders Council’s transport working group. We at newcycling.org know, it’s not just about cycling, it’s about creating a better fairer city altogether. Cycling is a catalyst for a smart and healthy city, with an indicator of how many 8 and 80 year olds cycle. We do need the safe cycleways so that diversity is allowed to flourish.”

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