Last summer the Council implemented a number of experimental and temporary Government-funded Emergency Active Travel schemes intended to improve space for walking and cycling in response to the pandemic. The Government also published new guidance for walking and cycling schemes. We think these are very important and welcome changes which will make walking and cycling easier and more attractive and, very importantly, will help the Council to meet its net zero plans.
We will update this page when we have further news on these schemes over the coming months so please check back for news on progress.
Queen Victoria Road
Funding is now in place to make permanent the Queen Victoria Rd scheme and it will be extended to include the junctions at Claremont Rd and Richardson Rd (you can see our previous comments on the experimental scheme here and here). The scheme is now out for public consultation and you can find out more about it and how to give feedback here. We think this infrastructure is a very positive step and are pleased to see dramatic changes to the Claremont Rd roundabout, and also to see that there is a link to Leazes Tce. The scheme could be further improved by removing walking/cycling shared space at junctions to make clear separate space for each mode. We would also like to see better connections to Richardson Rd and St Thomas’ Cresecent. We would like to understand how this scheme fits in with wider plans for the city centre and connections to adjacent neighbourhoods. See here for our response to the consultation.
Some of the funding required to make Grey Street permanent is also in place and work on making permanent the temporary additional pavement is due to start soon. This is very welcome news and will provide vital space for businesses to operate over the summer. The one-way cycleway will remain in place in the short term and we understand that there are long term plans to pedestrianise Grey Street and Blackett Street. We would like to know whether/how cycling will be retained on these streets, which are important E-W and N-S routes for cycling to and through the city centre and important access to businesses and amenities on these streets. Again, we would also like to understand how these plans fit into a citywide network for cycling.
The consultation on the closure to motor traffic of five small bridges (Argyle Street Bridge, Haldane Bridge, Stoneyhurst Road Bridge, Castles Farm Road Bridge & Salter’s Bridge) has closed and an initial report has been published. We are pleased to see that the council intends to review the consultation feedback alongside data on walking, cycling, traffic on adjacent routes, air pollution and impact on the emergency services. A final decision on these schemes will be made at some point following the elections in May and before the 18 month experimental traffic order expires in February next year. We hope that the council will make all of these schemes permanent.
Local shopping streets
Most of the temporary changes to local shopping streets, with a couple of notable exceptions, have been removed. These were all put in using temporary traffic orders. There is still some additional pedestrian space on Chillingham Rd where pavements are narrow and there is still additional pedestrian space and protected cycling space on Gosforth High Street.
Gosforth High Street still has temporary cycling and walking space. The council have stated that there are no current plans to make this arrangement permanent. You are able to feedback on the arrangement on Gosforth High Street here. We believe that the additional protected cycling space to the north and south of the main shopping area is a much needed and important improvement but are concerned about the lack of space for cycling in the central section and the paint which encourages cyclists into potentially dangerous conflict with motor vehicles. It is impossible to avoid cycling on this central area if you are making E-W journeys and we hope that, in time, the council will consider turning the temporary walking space here into cycling space. This would also have the advantage of enabling the removal of the many pre-existing bollards on the High Street thereby also increasing space for walking here.