Details on the planned changes can be found here (last accessed 11th April 2021).
During the engagement period the council provided us with the opportunity to discuss our thoughts on the scheme and below are some of the key points that we have raised:
Overall the planned scheme and its intentions are a positive change for the area, one which we strongly support. The removal of car parking spaces along Queen Victoria Road is a positive step for the city and we welcome the use the space for improving cycling provision.
Exhibition Park Area
At the northern end of the scheme , we would prefer to have a design that keeps cycling and walking separated, with transitions to shared paths only where needed for existing shared provision (entering Exhibition Park and Lover’s Lane).
We have discussed this with council officers and they are looking into whether this might be possible. We hope that something which provides greater separation can be provided in the next stage of the scheme’s development.
Leazes Lane, Richardson Road Area
At the southern end, while the connection to and from Leazes Crescent is useful, the scheme should also ensure connectivity for cycling to Richardson Road, Leazes Lane and St Thomas’ Crescent. We have asked whether the planned use of guard rail could be reviewed and that whatever protection is used in this location it doesn’t reduce the usable space.
The council officers we discussed this with are looking into how connectivity could be enabled here and have ideas about how guard rail could be replaced with something else.
University Car Parks
Having a two way cycleway cross in front of the university car park entrances and exits is not ideal, but as the traffic flow is substantially less than the entrances and exits from the hospital, this is understandable.
We do ask that on the final design the two way cycle movement is made as obvious to drivers as possible.
Shared Space by Crossings
At the points where crossings are provided across Queen Victoria Road, the separated cycle and walking provision becomes shared. It has been explained that as this is a blue route (a key emergency transport route) the constraints on carriageway width make keeping separation difficult especially to maintain a useful width for both pedestrians and cyclists.
We do ask that where shared space has to be used due to space constraints, that its length is kept to a minimum.
St Thomas’ Street
At the signal controlled junction with St Thomas’ Street, it feels as though the distance between the two parts of the cycleway is a large distance. It has been explained that this is to allow enough space for larger vehicles turning, ensuring that waiting cyclists are clear of the expected path of these vehicles.
Here we do want to ensure that plenty of time is given for cyclists to clear the junction allowing for people who are likely to travel slowly, either due to physical ability or the type of cycle they use.
This is an excellent scheme which has our full support. We hope that officers can look at some of the points we’ve raised but welcome the swift action to make the scheme permanent.
Featured image by Declan Adams, Design for Industry student, Northumbria University (from Newcastle City Council website).