Council officials ignore road safety concerns

Safety feedback from the cycle community gets thumbs down from council officials as changes are too expensive and unpopular with residents, says written council response to the Jesmond cycle improvements plan. The group held a crisis meeting with Councillors in December to discuss the fall-out from this damning response from council officers to its road safety plan, which proposed six routes across the suburb from residential areas to the shopping centre and schools, and short journeys easily done by bike.

The carefully composed community plan – eight months in the making – asks for important road safety changes such as cycle lanes on Osborne Road, removal of paid visitor parking from Tankerville Terrace to create safe cycling and walking space in front of the schools, signing of routes and improvements to crossings and junctions. It was supported by Councillors and it is aligned with Council’s own Cycle Strategy, which has a target of increasing cycling tenfold by 2022. The strategy specifically calls for a ‘reduction in motorised traffic, traffic calming, junction treatment, and reallocation of space on the carriageway’.

However, highways officials failed to welcome and embrace the plan and its suggestions by branding signage as street clutter and only appropriate for Strategic Cycle Routes into the city centre. They stated that the Little Moor path is illegal to cycle on, despite a sign permitting cycling on the path, and also claimed that restricting traffic for the benefit of safe cycling and walking would provoke significant objections from residents and require lengthy investigation.

Jesmond Safe Cycling and the Newcastle Cycling Campaign consider the changes in the local road infrastructure affordable, feasible and necessary. They would make the local environment more attractive and safe for all road users, would encourage more kids, parents and older people to cycle regularly, increase fitness and health, and reduce pollution and cut carbon emissions.

Tony Waterston, Chair of JSF says “I am very disappointed by council officials’ negative attitudes to our proposals. There needs to be a greater political incentive to make changes of this kind and we are expecting that local councillors will back us to the hilt. The main problem is not a lack of finance, but a lack of political will to make the streets more people friendly.”

Katja Leyendecker, Chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign, says “2012 has seen a disproportionate number of cyclists killed and injured on Britain’s roads. New people take up cycling but then fail to encounter the safe environment they deserve and need. We have to see action by officials, now, if they do not want to be seen as by-standers to the chaos and carnage on our roads. I’m surprised they haven’t added some positive suggestions of their own, if they’d read the Cycle Strategy. Kids of today aren’t allowed to cycle because their parents say the roads aren’t safe – the clearest shout-out yet for slower, safer, calmer streets.”

CONTACT

Tony Waterston, Tel 07763385319, Tony.waterston@ncl.ac.uk
Katja Leyendecker Tel 07828604349, newcastle.cycling.campaign@gmail.com

Notes for Editors:

Jesmond Safe Cycling was set up in late 2011 to promote a cycle friendly Jesmond. The group has produced a local cycle plan supported by councillors which includes six routes from residential areas to shopping centres and primary schools. JSF works closely with the Newcastle Cycling campaign.

The Newcastle Cycling Campaign was founded in 2010 by Katja Leyendecker & Claire Prospert in response to an 800-strong petition urging Newcastle City Council to improve conditions for people on bikes.

Council Cycle Strategy: https://newcycling.org/sites/default/files/CyclePlan10Year.pdf

Tankerville Terrace motorised school-run scandal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-19867797

Two photos of cycling conditions on Osborne Road attached:
Tony Waterston on Osborne Road
Katja Leyendecker on Osborne Road

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