Newcastle’s loopy lanes (revisited)

As part of the big announcement, we reported here, we hear thoughts on city cycling by the leader of Newcastle City Council himself when he was speaking to BBC Look North yesterday.

In the television interview Cllr Nick Forbes said : “A lot of the problems that we have at the moment is that the cycle routes often disappear either onto the pavement or into the middle of the road at short notice. We want to create a proper strategic cycle network right across the city connecting where people live with where people work.”

Yes, please.

And on the BBC programme Katja responded : “Cycling has had a flat tyre in this country for quite a long time. And today feels a bit like – of course it’s nice to be given something – but is does feels a bit alike a puncture repair kit with no-where to go with it. By all means we can probably fix the flat tyre but there’s no playground out there for cyclists. The roads are very hostile. Of course we need massive changes to our roads and to – you know – the way we interact on our roads. But we also need to take space from the roads to dedicate it to cycling.”

Well, it’s good to keep notes. Nick Forbes also said on the BBC Look North in 2011 when he was asked whether cycle provision was a bit barmy : “To be frank, that’s one of the reasons why I stopped cycling in Newcastle because you never knew from one minute to the next whether you are going to be on the road, the pavement or the cycle lane. And I think this is one of those things which we got to get right”.

We have the same sentiment.

We understand Nick has since then started cycling again. Kudos!

Yes, Nick we have got to get this right – we agree. Just how long will it take though? Two years have passed since we last met.

There are a few questions for Nick.

Did you know that more cycle infrastructure has been removed than created since you came into power? Welbeck Road is in limbo with council being paralysed to make a decision for cycling safety. Interactions with council engineers on Brighton Grove and Fenham Hall Drive have broken down, and resulted in rather compromised pedal infrastructure. Westmorland Road and Elswick Road ended in a worse-off situation for cycling. On Tankerville Terrace nothing apparently can be done to calm the road environment for school kids to safely walk and cycle. The conversation about making Acorn Road more people-friendly has been left largely unsupported by the council despite a massive evidence base for change that has been painstakingly collated to date. Speeding on rat-run Highbury is normal, we are told by council officers. Percy Street has been forever under review. A recent plan on Blue House roundabout looks like the 1960s are back. For Northumberland Street we hear further nonspecific mumblings, despite a respectable study supporting a bike trial. And the inexpensive bits such as opening one-way streets to contraflows and fully implementing 20mph have not been done. Katja is pleading to council here.

And yes, that NCN725 – we know neither what that is all about. On ITV Tynestees Nick Forbes did not know what the NCN725 sign meant. We seem to have something in common again.

Transport in our city can be a can of worms if you don’t keep on top of it – maybe you could speak to the users and experts more. Cycling plays its vital part in reviving our city. There are opportunities to do so as well. The Campaign organises another 4C here and the Dutch are coming here. Talk to us and find out more.

Watch BBC Look North and itv TyneTees