The council are currently consulting on a range of walking and cycling schemes, as we comment in detail on them links will be added to the section below. But what about the big picture?
Is there enough money? The stated budget is £8.6 million to build 14 kilometres of “routes”. This sounds like a lot but good quality walking and cycling schemes do cost a lot, the most often quoted figure being £1million per mile, so 14km being 8.7 miles it’s not far off the right figure. The only issue may be that some of the projects run in to town centres where things can get more expensive. Overall yes, the budget is big enough to do a decent job without cutting corners on quality.
Are there enough projects? No. The council are only consulting on projects for which they’ve secured all of the money. This in our view is a mistake. They need to be prepared to go public on longer term plans as well, show the public the big picture, and demonstrate to government that they have a good pipeline of already consulted projects. In order to make good on their commitment to make the borough carbon neutral by 2030 the borough will need to build a lot more than this by 2023. The Mayoral term is 4 years, it’s best to assume little of note being achieved in the last year so really by 2023 we need to be aiming a lot higher. A good way to start would be for the Council to publish the Borough’s Cycling and Walking Network Plan and engage with stakeholders like Living Streets to review, amend where needed and prioritise schemes for delivery. This would help the public grasp the bigger picture too.
Is the quality good enough? No. For all this to be worth doing it needs to work for new cyclists, women, children, pedestrians, people in a hurry i.e. everyone. It also needs to comply with up to date government guidance if we are to attract the rest of the money needed to build a better street network. The Council seems to be cutting corners when it doesn’t need to and resorting to putting bikes on footways whenever it gets difficult. Everyone accepts that the first year needs to be about building the easier schemes, where there is plenty of space, as political and technical impetus and experience builds. But setting out to build in some cases poorly thought out projects is a serious mistake.
- Rake Lane Gyratory
- Norham Road
- The Town Centres – Whitley Bay & North Shields
- Routes to Shields (Preston Road and Tynemouth Road)
- Four Lane Ends
- Rake Lane Cycleway
- Improved links to Metro stations
More links will follow as we go over each project in detail. This blog will form our public response to the consultation. Please feel free to link to this content when responding on the Council’s portal.
We’ve also outlined a list of questions to guide engagement with the online consultation – you can have a look at these here.
If you’ve got any thoughts on the projects yourself then please get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or leaving a comment below.