Dear Nick and Ged
(cc Graham Grant)
Our response to the Newcastle Budget 2017-18 will be short and based on previous years’ responses covering the budget periods 2013/16, 2015/16, and 2016/17. We have consistently asked for the Council to prioritise sustainable transport infrastructure and deploy resources accordingly. We still have to see a clear transition from investment into roads and motorised traffic to walking & cycling and public transport. Too often, the Council sends conflicting messages: supporting plans for additional car parking while building quality cycling cycleways in the city centre. How would people react to this, and how would this help people leave their car at home when driving remains so convenient?
The city cannot function and continue to grow in the same old fashion, and expect to solve its “projected” congestion hotspots by accommodating more traffic. Change is required. We have extensively documented the benefits of investing in a quality cycling infrastructure:
- for the economy,
- an equal and fair society,
- a healthy population,
- and a clean and sustainable future.
Modern successful cities have embarked on radical changes and signaled their intention to provide real alternatives to the car. It is a political choice.
Experts like Philippe Crist from the International Transport Forum at the OECD, who talked about the economic benefits of cycling in Newcastle (2013 Love Cycling Go Dutch Conference) recently summarised in a short video why cycling infrastructure is an integral part of a successful city.
Support, in Newcastle and the North East, is available amongst the civic society, community groups such as Newcycling but this expertise and energy can only materialise if the Council, as the agent of change for urban mobility, clearly supports a different transport system. A new message is emerging; it now needs to be translated into a clear plan/programme, effective co-ordination between services, prioritisation and effective use of resources. It would not need additional resources, as the transport budget has to date been quite sufficient in size, and after carrying out some national policy analysis we conclude that it is expected to remain at a reasonable level. However, the decision HOW to invest it lies wholly locally with the councils, CA, and LEP.
The same way the city is preparing for an energy transition, the Council has to embrace a transport transition. We can help.