The council is currently consulting on a range of new walking and cycling changes, some better than others.
The scheme on Norham Road links the Coast Road down to Percy Main.
At first glance, you see prioritised raised tables across the junction on the southbound route at the north end of Simonburn Avenue, Nunwick Gardens and the south end of Stannington Road. All of these are minor roads, so it’s good to see a design that looks to give non-motorised movements priority across the junctions.
Based on the planning permission that was granted on the housing development south of West Chirton Industrial Estate, there will be a signalised junction with Verne Road. Of the work that has been completed so far, it is likely that there will be a pedestrian/cyclist phase to the traffic lights. The planning permission also points to work on these signals are likely to be linked to those at the Tesco junction further north. It seems that not enough space is being provided at the junction for pedestrians and cyclists to be separated, instead anyone riding will have to pass through pedestrians waiting at the crossings.
The housing development will have a link to the National Cycle Network (NCN) path on the west side, as a means of accessing Public Right of Way. This would likely provide a quiet(er) route onto the NCN, than continuing further south.
Unfortunately, on both sides of the road, the main design of the “segregated” cycle path is shared with pedestrians. On parts of the northbound section, the amount of space allocated is a very generous 4.5m, which would indicate either some road space is being claimed, or the path is being widened on the inside. The main Norham Road highway, away from the junction, is mostly 9m in width, so it is quite clear there is more than sufficient space to look to provide on-road, protected, segregated cycling infrastructure.
As mentioned in Sustainable Transport Schemes 2021, the cost of quality infrastructure is around £1m per mile, which would be the approximate cost for providing quality, protected cycleways from North Shields Retail Park in the north, to Tecaz in the south (750m each way). However, if this section is plained and surfaced (based on the average of 3.5m of width along each path), this would cost approximately £300k (RFI 1804013 6th June 2018). It’s unclear what North Tyneside Council’s commitment to this route is, in the long term.
At the south end of Norham Road, the southbound route is to be joined to Elsdon Terrace, which is a quiet enough street, parking down both sides of it. Given Norham Road narrows at this point, and there is a bus depot at this bottleneck, it’s a sensible decision to make.
The plans indicate a new link will be installed, but it’s not clear how this link will look. Currently, Elsdon Terrace has a narrow path in front of a shop, with a raised bus stop area on the A193 Wallsend Road above. Any new link would likely require a fundamental change that doesn’t make access to the bus stop difficult for people with mobility problems, or any slope too steep for wheelchairs.
The plan appears to want to link to the existing shared network towards Percy Main. Given how busy the A193 roundabout can be towards Preston Village and Meadowell, the roundabout may require changes as to allow cyclists the opportunity to cross safely. The existing exit onto Wallsend Road is quite wide and encourages drivers to speed through, whereas the exisiting NCN 10 network in the west takes cyclists under the A193 with a quieter road to cross outside the Redburn Medical Centre.
Norham Road is certainly wide enough to cater for protected, segregated cycle lanes. With the NCN10 running parallel in the west, it may be more benefical to provide more links from Norham Road to NCN10 than have cyclists navigate a busier roundabout.
The shared path on Norham Road doesn’t appear to provide information as to how this will directly to Elson Terrace. It’s likely the council will place a Give Way junction onto Alnwick Avenue, which means cyclists are potentially going to have to look in three directions to navigate. It would be less hassle for cyclists to find a link over to NCN10 and navigate to Percy Main that way than potentially worry about crossing the A193.
Then there’s the cost. Even with the failure to adhere to LTN 1/20 on Norham Road, by putting cyclists into conflict with pedestrians, the cost of putting in place shared paths isn’t that significantly less expensive that providing quality segregation. What are the long terms plans for Norham Road going forward?