Here is Bill, a Gosforth resident, reporting on the Town Hall Meeting held on Thursday 27th November. Shown below, is the question he posed to the Councillors and audience. The public meeting had been called by Councillors of East and West Gosforth and Parklands wards to discuss ‘controversial’ issues. Over 200 people attended, and debated transport plans for Gosforth, including the High Street, Salter’s Road and Hollywood junctions, amongst more general aspects of mobility, accessibility, liveability and quality of life.
I was extremely disappointed with the approach taken by the seven Gosforth Councillors present who were very much against improvements for cyclist and pedestrians.
The latest round of consultation carried out a few months ago was fairly evenly split. Of those who responded, 49% supported doing something and 51% supported doing nothing. However, further analysis of responses shows that 54% supported making the High Street safer for cyclists and 56% supported making the High Street safer for pedestrians. In addition, 60% disagreed with replacing any car parking lost from Salters Rd car park on to Gosforth High Street (yet that was what Gosforth Councillors were advocating last night).
Pollution levels on Gosforth High Street already exceed the legal maximum and change is desperately needed. Therefore, it was no surprise that responses to a previous consultation two years ago were heavily in favour of carrying out improvements, with 85% of respondents saying that investment in healthier, cheaper, less harmful means of transport was a priority. In addition, 70% thought that making cycling improvements to Gosforth High Street was important. No doubt these figures were influenced by the fact that 5 cyclists were knocked off their bikes on the High Street in 2012, hence the awareness for safety improvements.
There are over one thousand cycle movements along Gosforth High Street each day and the council hopes to quadruple the number of people cycling by 2020. This means that good quality, fast, safe and convenient cycling infrastructure on the High Street is essential to encourage more cycling and keep people safe.
I appreciate that some traders are worried about loss of trade, but traders always tend to overestimate the number of motorists visiting their shops. When a formal ‘stop an ask’ survey was done with 460 High Street visitors it found that 41% came on foot, 31% by car, 14% by bus and 11% by bike [ed. report pdf, page 6, figure 3]. Making the High Street more attractive for cyclists and pedestrians will bring major benefits and improve the whole area. It could also help to rejuvenate the High Street.
There have been continual consultations and plans being drawn up since 2006. Now is the time to stop talking and start doing. The current proposals will bring about much needed improvement and make the whole area better for everyone who lives, works and shops in the general area of Gosforth High Street. I’m confident that Newcastle Council will stick to its guns and press ahead with what is so desperately needed.
Did you attend the meeting? What’s your view? Or you may have something to add or need clarification, get in touch on email@example.com or discuss it with others on our facebook group https://www.facebook.com/groups/newcastle.cycling.campaign/