We’ve written to Cllr Nigel Todd

Heartened by last year’s engagement and action on Brighton Grove, we’ve written to Newcastle’s local politician responsible for cycling, Cllr Nigel Todd, and ask for action. We’ve outlined the following four achievable targets for completion by 31 March 2012:

1. Allow cycling on Northumberland Street and make a start with out-of-shopping hours, as highlighted by the Safe Cycling petition in 2010

2. Map cycle lanes and give them double-yellow-line status (no parking in cycle lanes), as suggested by our patron Prof Stephen Singleton

3. Provide the definitive list of Newcastle’s one-way streets and allow contra-flow cycling in at least five streets for better permeability and setting a minimum target for ten conversions in future years, as explained by Alex Sully at the cycle design training

4. Send a clear signal to ITA/Nexus for an integrated transport system: to allow standard bikes on metro trains (make a start with outside rush hour), as common in Europe

Full letter attached below.

We’ve written to Cllr Nigel Todd

Date: 3 July 2011 12:34
Subject: Transport & Environment – cycling update

Hi Nigel

Further to the Brighton Grove email, a ward matter, and it’s the perfect example: as you know it’s not all rosy in the world of transport at the council especially with respect to cycling.

Overall, we would like to see a council that does what it says it would do.

This is currently is not the case. Over the last 9-12 months we have been trying to work with senior Cllrs and council officers alike, but have largely been falling on deaf ears. We really attempted to open up honest communication channels, build trust and good relationships, we even used different techniques and approaches, but sadly Cllrs and council officers we approached remained defensive on the matter of cycling on the whole.

There’s a lot to be done and put right. But it’s an opportunity too! So please do not despair. There’s vast ‘mileage’ here for improvements at very little cost! As you know, currently it is about the integration of cycling into council’s planning and thinking, almost an ideological change, before we can make strides to physically improve the cycle infrastructure.

This email is just for your information: so that you know our point of view, and hopefully over time get to understand it intimately too. As mentioned before, the Newcastle Cycling Campaign is here to offer an alternative perspective to the ‘status-quo’ view of the council.

Here is a summary of our venture into “Cycling at the City Council”. Best to be aware of.

Hot spots

>> Parked-in cycle lanes (for example: Brighton Grove, Great North Park, Gosforth High Street, Benfield Road, Ouseburn Quayside) – dangerous for cycling
>> Removal of cycle lanes (for example: SilverLonnen, Elswick Road, Newburn business park, Scotswood Road) – over the last 12 months or so
>> Development/regeneration sites (for example: Science Central, East Pilgrim Street, Percy Street, Stephenson Quarter, Gosforth Traffic Corridor) – cycle inclusion unclear/uncommitted

Outstanding (largely due to limited leadership by last administration)

>> Achieving consultation and communication at point zero, our doubt in council consultations includes the ITA comment about the ‘hijacking’ comment and the very limited influence that was offered on the LSTF, and other recent consultations 1CORE, CCAAP
>> Baselining: the cycle counters are in disarray (we offered our help, which was denied)
>> Freedom of Information request dated 3 April 2011 – unanswered
>> 1PLAN implementation and communication (could package into Road Users Debate?)
>> Possibly ineffective council cycle webpage – we are disappointed that the website is not to include an open online forum, the restrictions on files hindering easy posting of maps, photos etc seem to remain
>> Scrutiny question submitted 2 January 2011 – unanswered
>> Road safety approach is often counter-productive to cycling (a meeting with council officers is in the process of being organised)
>> National government is on a devolution spree, pushing down responsibilities to local level, rightly or wrongly. In our assessment local government will find it hard to compensate for national leadership such as diminished planning rules unless cross-party unity is sought on transport strategy (use 1PLAN). It will be enormously essential to bring about fairness in a car-dependent society.

We know you are very busy. However, we thought it important to further bring you up to speed on cycling matters in the city. Hope you find it helpful?

Of course, there’s good stuff happening too: the cycle strategy with its enshrined modal targets and cycle network are to look forward to. And if we could advance the support for the Newcastle Cycling Manifesto with your help, that’d be fab too.

Katja & Claire

We’ve written to Cllr Nigel Todd

Date: 7 June 2011 08:50
Subject: Re: Equality Trust events

Hi Nigel

Many thanks for the notification of this talk. We will be there! It’s great to be on your mailing list.

Let me just shamelessly plug a report along the theme of “equality in our transport system”. You may have heard of the recent report “Fairness in a Car Dependent Society” by the Sustainable Development Commission. Full report here http://www.sd-commission.org.uk/publications.php?id=1184

“Fairness in a Car Dependent Society” finds that vulnerable groups carry a greater burden of the costs of other people’s travel, including

>> air pollution
>> noise
>> traffic danger
>> injury
>> crime

The report is recommending a new approach to transport policy (in line with the Coalition Government’s commitment to fairness as one of its three guiding principles). The Commission’s recommendations centre on its Transport Hierarchy for policy makers, calling on policy-makers to prioritise

>> reducing the demand for transport [importance of local services]
>> encouraging more sustainable modes of transport [walking, cycling]
>> improving the efficiency of existing modes of transport over increasing the capacity of the transport system [restricting access by car to give other modes the chance to flourish = this is the difficult but crucial one]

You may, of course, already have known about this report.

In any case, I hope you find this useful.

Thank You