Currently Newcastle City Council are carrying out engagement on three Streets For People projects. This is our response for the schemes presented for Heaton and Ouseburn. The engagement process ends on Thursday the 30th November, we have provided links to the individual schemes we have commented on.
The Streets for People project with its current method of consultation highlights issues that would be best avoided in future. This big bang of different designs is excessive and tiring to go through in detail. With the length of time this project has currently been going on for, we feel it would have been better to identify smaller changes and introduce each individually, starting much earlier in the process.
It is good to see a sustained length of infrastructure that provides some protection. It is a shame this is only being designed to use temporary methods of separation, but we understand this is due to cost constraints. Ideally this should be delivered using more substantial permanent measures along the route.
It would be much safer if the separation did not stop 5m from every junction. This leaves children exposed at the very point where they are vulnerable. The junctions without signals could be better designed to give pedestrians and cyclists priority.
The cycleway widths that have been designed in places are too narrow, making more permanent measures would allow for greater cycleway width. At least 2.5m for a single direction cycleway should be provided to allow people to cycle safely side by side, this would allow a parent cycling alongside their child.
It is good to see modal filters being introduced on the side streets, these should help reduce rat running traffic in the area, although this needs to be done in the context of an area wide plan. Without considering other nearby streets, this may push rat running issues onto other residential street streets. Filters on densely populated streets would also facilitate play streets. Overall the filters would be great to see but the council needs to observe the impact on other local streets and be ready to introduce filters on these if rat running traffic is a problem.
There are some issues that we feel should be changed before the scheme is implemented:
Instead of Advance Stop Zones at junctions, cyclists within the cycleways should be given cycle specific signal to remove the conflict between motorists and cyclists. These zones are an issue as they are often ignored by drivers and they also give suggestion that cyclists should wait within them regardless of the traffic waiting at the light, this is especially dangerous with HGVs whose blind zone covers pretty much the same area.
The southbound ASZ by Rothbury is of little use as there is no right turn to be made here.
The Bus Stop Boarder just North of Simonside could be a safer bus stop bypass, there is plenty of space available here, but priority has been given to car parking rather than having a safer design by the bus stop. The other just north of Gabriel’s Avenue could also be designed as a safer bus stop bypass, if space was not provided to allow two cars to pass when buses are stopped.
It is a shame that the crossing over the Coast Road has not been looked at as part of the Streets for people scheme. This would provide improved connectivity over this busy road that severs High Heaton from Heaton. This should probably be a future project to connect Heaton to the local high school, primary schools and the Freeman Hospital.
Heaton Park Road
The changes are an improvement for pedestrians. These measures should also consider the existing and future cycle routes through the area.
These changes could have been used to provide priority along the cycle route between Heaton and the City Centre. And where physical changes are introduced they could have also been used to provide separated space for cyclists heading along Heaton Park Road.
Making the street in front of the school one way for motor traffic will help reduce the volume of traffic here. This is a positive change. It is good to see that cycles are exempt from the no entry. The use of the one way system would benefit from further analysis to identify a setup that has the greatest reduction in motor traffic passing in front of the school.
One consideration could be to make the eastern end of Ravenswood Road one way towards Addycombe Terrace from the Stanmore Road junction.
Instead of Advance Stop Zones on Warwick Street, cyclists should be given cycle specific signal to remove the conflict between motorists and cyclists, like those on the North and South approaches. These zones are an issue as they are often ignored by drivers and they also give suggestion that cyclists should wait within them regardless of the traffic waiting at the light, this is especially dangerous with HGVs whose blind zone covers pretty much the same area.
The issue with movement along Warwick Street is further demonstrated by the right turn pocket, creating three different ways of cyclists using the junction, thus creating a very inconsistent design.
Heaton Park View
The junction with Warwick Street seems very problematic for cycling.
The use of Advance Stop Zones (ASZ) is a problem we have covered on other schemes, here they will not be usable either as they have no feed into them. The ASZ on Heaton Park Road seems even more pointless as the right turn and straight ahead movements are banned.
Using shared pavements at this junction is also going to create conflict between cyclists and pedestrians.
We would recommend revisiting this scheme to have a more indepth look at how cyclists and pedestrians can be safely catered for here and allow them to move in all directions including in and out of the park. Restricting or removing certain motor traffic flows here may be required to gain any reasonable change.
Springbank Road and Ouseburn Road
It is great to read that filtering is being considered on Ouseburn Road. This road has been a prolific rat run and the proposed measures would make the area much calmer and in keeping with the local environment.