Happy New Year!
2014 saw some interesting proposals for cycle infrastructure in Jesmond. It’s not always easy interpreting council plans and process, so below is written in good faith.
Most controversial were the plans for Acorn Road which were put forward by the council in association with Sustrans. The aim is to make Acorn Road less congested and safer and more pleasant for pedestrians and cyclists as a destination. Following an informal consultation in the spring, Sustrans put together a design which allowed for widened pavements by making the road one way while retaining most of the parking (something which some councillors, businesses and residents requested). North Jesmond Councillors objected to the proposal and persuaded the council to come up with a second plan which kept the road much as it was but introduced some raised tables at junctions to help pedestrians cross the road and to slow down traffic. They decided to consult on both of these options.We don’t fully understand the logic and suggest that the processes should be more transparent.
It got quite complicated.
All three North Jesmond councillors and one South Jesmond councillor voted (all LibDem at the time) to mail out the consultation papers to North Jesmond residents only, although as this is a public highway anyone could offer an opinion. Option 1 (the one-way street design) was the most favourably received and the council, after further objections by a North Jesmond councillor and some local businesses and residents, have now made the decision to proceed with the one-way street design and are now in the process of detailing this design having taken on board some of the comments received during the consultation. One of the consequences of lobbying by councillors and businesses is that parking has now been increased to approximately the original level.
Newcycling is worried that the original aim of the objective, to make the road safer for pedestrians and cyclists and create a destination, has now been compromised.
Tankerville Terrace schools
Sustrans have been working to redesign the area outside West Jesmond Primary School. Sadly, only minor changes are being made here and there is nothing being done to reduce or remove the traffic outside the school which is badly needed. The pavement on one side will be widened and the south end of Brentwood Avenue will be closed.
We feel that the council have lost an opportunity here to make a big and necessary change on Tankerville Terrace to make a bold statement about their priorities. With three big schools on it, it is a very congested road at school drop off and pick up times. Newcycling has also been working with Sustrans to try to get a temporary, protected two-way cycleway installed on one side of the road (where there is currently council paid parking) so that we can monitor its effect on the road, but the council and local North Jesmond councillors are not supportive of this. This leaves us stunned as to their leadership and ambition to create a better transport system serving everyone.
Manor House Road
We hear that Sustrans are also working in the Manor House Road area and there will be some traffic calming measures introduced here.
No doubt most of you will have seen the alterations at the Forsyth Road/Great North Road junction. This is part of the work on the Strategic Cycle Routes, the SCR4 Gosforth leg – to be precise. It has not been completed yet and we understand a speed hump across Forsyth Road is still to be constructed.
The crossing has been rationalised and this is a great improvement for cycling but it is a shame that the short cycle lanes leading from the junction onto Forsyth Road run straight into a row of parked cars and it is still very difficult, and at times impossible, to cycle on this road at peak times. It’s bonkers, really.
There are also planned changes to the Clayton Road/Brandling Park junction as part of the same route. Our suggestions may have been taken into account which also proposes to add a Jesmond leg to SCR4, joining in at the temporary bypass on Tankerville/Forsyth/Highbury (until Blue House roundabout is made cycle-friendly).
Finally, there are plans to install cycle lanes on the stretch of Osborne Road between Clayton Road and Jesmond Road and the whole of Osborne Road is planned to be made 20mph (currently only the stretch where the bars are is 20mph). However the proposal does not include protected cycle space which we would prefer.
So what do we want to see in 2015 and beyond? On the list of requests from Jesmond residents are changes to Forsyth Road and Highbury to reduce traffic, a crossing on Osborne Road at the Jesmond Dene Road end and the extension of cycle lanes on Osborne Road. We would love to hear from campaign members who have other ideas.
Thanks to everyone for your support in the last year it has been enormously helpful.
In 2015/16 we aim to discuss Jesmond as an area, and zone it… get involved!
Sally Watson, Jesmond branch chair
The archive of Jesmond-related articles can be accessed here