The Newcastle Cycling Campaign is one of 10 community groups in Newcastle and North Tyneside who, along with around 120 other organisations from across the UK, have signed a national statement calling on leaders of councils to take action to roll out more low traffic neighbourhoods (LTNs).
The statement says:
“Now more than ever we need safe and spacious routes for walking and cycling to stop the air and noise pollution, and danger that traffic inflicts on our neighbourhoods… That’s why we welcome the leadership of councils who are working tirelessly to make sure changes to streetspace aren’t lost as life returns to normal.”
Read the full statement, which we have sent to leaders of Newcastle and North Tyneside councils, and see all the signatories here.
LTNs reduce traffic in residential areas and improve living conditions through the consequent reduction in air and noise pollution and through creating streets which people feel more comfortable walking, wheeling and cycling in. Strategically-placed bollards or decorative planters make it impossible for traffic to cut through a neighbourhood, while still keeping every property accessible for residents, deliveries, disabled or elderly people, emergency services and bin collections. They are designed to reduce traffic, rather than simply shifting it elsewhere. A study of 70 projects that reallocated road space for walking and cycling found an average of 11% fewer motor vehicles in the area, as people changed their travel patterns in response to the new road layout.
Here in Newcastle we have already seen the positive impact that LTNs can bring through the recent closure to motor traffic of some of the small bridges across the city.
In Gosforth Garden Village the closure (again) of Salters Bridge has created a lovely safe and quiet neighbourhood and the @welovesalters group have been sharing lots of great photographs on twitter:
In South Gosforth the closure of Stoneyhurst Road bridge has also had a big impact on surrounding streets and on the school run at South Gosforth First School as reported by @saferstoneyhurst:
And in Jesmond, @SPACEforJesmond showing that the closure of Haldane Bridge is doing its job:
Because of their broad benefits and appeal, LTNs tend to draw a wider range of supporters from across our communities. However they are not without controversy and we have already experienced a backlash here, as have others across the country, with petitions to remove the closures, letters of complaint to councillors and some very angry outbursts on social media. Some of this upset comes from a fear of change. But change is possible and other places which have experienced similar backlashes have also seen some very positive increases in walking and cycling and a decrease in car ownership, according to a recent study.
If you live near one of the five bridges which is now open for walking, wheeling and cycling please write to lend your support. Equally, please let the the council know if you would like an LTN in your area. The council needs to hear from people like you – not just those who are unhappy – if we want these changes to stay. There are a number of ways you can do this. You can add your comments on the council’s website, which also includes details of how to send formal support via email for each of the bridges. You can write to the Leader, Cllr Nick Forbes (firstname.lastname@example.org), and the Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality, Cllr Arlene Ainsley (email@example.com) and to your local councillors. You could even write to Grant Shapps MP to ask for more funding for these schemes (firstname.lastname@example.org).
If you want to get more involved in local campaigns please check out our partner campaign groups:
Climate Action Newcastle is a community group associated with Friends of the Earth, working to help find local solutions to climate change issues. Twitter @ClimateNCL
Living Streets North Tyneside is an inclusive organisation which campaigns to make walking, cycling ad wheeling in North Tyneside safer and easier for people of all ages and abilities. Living streets are places where people, not cars, are prioritised and where the street is a social place that allows neighbours of all ages to meet and play. Twitter @NTyneLivingSt
PlayMeetStreet North Tyneside is the community organisation that promotes temporary residential street closures for play in the Borough. It is the third most active group in England after Bristol and Hackney. Twitter @playmeetstreet
Safer Stoneyhurst is a group of residents who have come together to support the trial closure of Stoneyhurst Road Bridge in South Gosforth. Twitter @SafeStoneyhurst
SPACE groups for Gosforth, Jesmond, Heaton, and Fenham/Arthur’s Hill are community groups made up of local residents to promote and campaign for a ‘Safe Pedestrian and Cycling Environments’. Twitter @space4gosforth, @SPACEforJesmond, @SPACEforHeaton, @SPACE4Fenham_AH
We Love Salters/Garden Village Action are a group of residents who came together when the area became a low traffic neighbourhood in 2017. We are committed to the creation of safe and healthy spaces for communities. Twitter @welovesalters