UPDATE: On 16 March 2015 we received a reply from Cllr Nick Forbes. We will scrutinise it carefully. Following that we will update our needs assessment below, as necessary.
We call on Newcastle City Council (as the Local Authority and Highway Authority for Newcastle, which has responsibility for the planning and delivery of transport schemes) to lead the transition to a more equitable transport system that prioritises walking and cycling. We ask Newcastle City Council to respond to the following:
Key message – make cycling the easy option for all
- Council to employ a leading expert in the field of urban planning and transport to oversee a citywide transport transformation. This person should have the authority to bring together engineers, planners, communication/marketing professionals and politicians to collaborate effectively. Priorities are to look at:
- re-classifying roads according to Dutch Sustainable Safety principles (we are happy to advise)
- neighbourhood zoning (closing all rat-runs)
- Strategic Cycle Routes
- Council to make an unambiguous plan which sets out how the transition from prioritising private motor traffic to prioritising walking, cycling and public transport is to be implemented. Public engagement is key to being able to make any plan work. It is vital that the plan and the benefits it brings are clearly communicated to people.
- Council to use a decision-making process that is straightforward and transparent, to ensure genuine public engagement and cooperative working with interest groups and hold a civic debate with partners.
- Council to have a clear transport cycling budget which states what money will be spent on and when.
- Council to make clear the economic and social case for investing in cycling infrastructure using a sound evidence base derived from data collection and monitoring (including describing the impact of changes to traffic flows, speeds and volumes and the impact on cycle numbers following interventions). Cycling is a mode of transport which most people can access and should not be viewed simply as a leisure or niche activity, but to enable access to all we must build cycleways.
- Council to set up a dedicated and expert delivery team, fully integrated into the city’s transport and highway planning activities. We want cycling to be taken seriously as a mainstream mode of transport and designed for as such. Every time any work is done on any road (from major junction design to parking and re-surfacing) it should be part of the core plan. Including for cycling should be integral to every transport project, big and small. Quick fixes must be progressed with no delay: 20mph city core and contraflows.
- Council to progress the express delivery of the Strategic Cycle Routes. These should be designed to be suitable for people of all ages and abilities and should be on direct and useful routes passing schools, shops, public buildings and businesses. We want one showcase SCR to be designed and built to the highest safety and comfort standard to make the case for cycling.
Background – Why do we want this?
After many years of planning, strategising and policy making, we want to see action. Newcastle needs to fully embrace new and progressive transport ideas to bring the city into the 21st Century. This will enable it to compete for business and talent at an international level. While Newcastle is planning satellite suburbs connected to the centre by wide fast roads which promote the use of private cars, other cities of all sizes – from Mumbai to New York, Bristol to Utrecht – are re-thinking how people live, work and move around.
Newcastle could be a city where traffic gridlock is designed out and a fairer city where those who cannot afford to or choose not to drive are able to travel more safely and easily and are made to feel more welcome, equal and valued. If more people walk and cycle, road space is freed up for public transport, freight and business trips. It helps people to incorporate exercise in their daily lives and reduces pollution thereby creating a healthier population and reducing the strain on the health service.
Investing in cycleways now will create a sustainable and inclusive Newcastle. It would save the council money in the long run and support growth in the city’s economy.
All that has been highlighted here is crucial to creating a more attractive, prosperous and healthy city to live and work in. A city that will attract businesses and workers who value quality of life, and ensure future economic prosperity.
We will continue to campaign and lobby for all of these things. We invite Newcastle City Council to tell us more about how they can make them happen and how we can help.