Junctions in the West of the City – NewCycling Response

consultation response image

This is the response for NewCycling on the multiple schemes presented through Commonplace as the “Junction improvements in the west of the city” at https://newcastlejunctions2019.commonplace.is.

The proposals for the junctions in the West of the city leave us deeply concerned about the direction the council is heading with its highways. At a time when a climate emergency has be declared by the council and when the council is still failing to meet the legal levels for air quality in the city, is absolutely the wrong decision to plan to increasing motor traffic volumes anywhere in Newcastle.

The council is condemning its residents to more motor traffic and pollution through designing its highways to make up for a failure of planning policy that has allowed the development of housing, which is being designed in such a way that the council feels more motor traffic capacity is needed across the city.

Instead the council should be looking not just to enable cycling, walking and public transport for these developments, but should be seeking to prioritise these modes and work with all relevant parties to ensure that driving is not the primary transport choice for residents on all new developments.

As the junctions have been designed with a seeming lack of any real consideration for cyclists needs, the council will fail to attract cyclists along the corridors that these junctions are on, leaving cycling to continue to exist at the fringes of the transport modal share, while the council continue to give priority to motor traffic through space allocation and highway design.

Therefore we can only object to every junction proposal that has been put forward as the intention of increasing motor traffic capacity is deeply flawed.

Further to this, there are glaring issues with nearly every design put forward from a cycling perspective. Due to the number of junctions being looked at we do not have the resource to provide a detailed analysis of each proposal, but obvious issues will be raised here.

  • The use of shared pedestrian and cycle paths. Over the past few years the council seem to reverted to using these instead of providing separation between cyclists and pedestrians. Newcastle council need to cease with the use of shared space on future design and start designing separated facilities again. As these junctions have plenty of space available, separation of cycling walking needs to be implemented.
  • Two stage crossings. These are mostly being implemented on fairly narrow islands and require four roughly 90 degree turns to use. For cyclists in such confined spaces this is a difficult manoeuvre, especially if the crossing is being used by pedestrians at the same time, and a source of conflict and discomfort for all. For both pedestrians and cyclists this also means that cyclists are left in the middle of road waiting for the second set of light to change surrounded by dangerous and polluting moving motor traffic. The only reason these crossings are used is to control motor traffic flows, normally to increase capacity. Once again the council must stop using this type of crossing and instead use single stage crossings for both cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Extra long two stage crossings – In addition to the issues raised with two stage crossings, some of the crossings have a fairly large distance between each of crossings, this is key indicator that cyclists and pedestrians are being seen as second class users of the highway network, to allow more time and space for motorists.
  • Using Toucan crossings. Just as shared space is an issue, at crossings separate cycle and pedestrian crossings should be provided. The needs of the users for using a crossing are different, due to the space requirements of pedestrians and cyclist being different. Therefore toucans are little more than fudge in an attempt to provide some level of cycling connectivity, that a well designed separated cycle and pedestrian crossings can address much better.
  • Omitting cycle infrastructure altogether – On one scheme cycling provision is omitted completely, in others it is missing in parts to varying degrees. If motor traffic levels are high enough on any of these schemes to warrant these type of scheme (motor traffic capacity increases), then they also should require that cyclists are given separate protected space across the entirety of the scheme.
  • On the Ponteland – Harehill scheme there are obvious issues in the design. One that sees cyclists on an access road, diverted to a short section of cycle path, to then stop at a give way marking to turn into the carriageway. (Image 1 – below). The Ponteland – Springfield junction has a similar design that also seems like is is needlessly send cycling on a longer journey for no reason. A much better design can be created if the needs of cyclists are truly considered and the priorities are adjusted for these schemes.
    A second sees a very short section of cycleway ends with a give way marking. This is an issue for both the short section of cycleway and the expectation that cyclists ride with motor traffic on this section of Ponteland road, that is very busy and fast with motor traffic. Image attached of this too (Image 2 – below). It is not clear why such short sections of cycleway are being designed alongside shared paths that then just end with a give way.
    In total every provision for cycling on this one scheme (Ponteland – Harehill) seems like an attempt at just trying to make cyclists experience through this junction a horrific one.
Image 1 – Ponteland Road – Harehill, Odd cycle detour to giveway
Image 2 – Ponteland Road – Harehill, Short shared path to short cycleway to giveway.

To summarise, the proposals as put forward are shocking. They will only seek to further reinforce the idea that driving has priority and will undermine any desire for the council to tackle poor air quality and the climate emergency. We recommend that all these schemes scrapped and new design put forward that focussing on enabling and prioritising cycling and walking over motor transport capacity.