We’ve just published a post which highlights some of what we really like in the council’s plans for a new Sunrise Cycleway; here we just want to highlight some questions and themes to think about as you look at and respond to the consultation.
In our alternative proposals for the seafront, which we imagined just as the temporary route was being ripped out, we placed an emphasis on creating safe space for walking, cycling, scooting, and wheeling, for residents and visitors to get fresh air and exercise, and to make visiting and spending money in our coastal businesses (shops, cafes, restaurants, services) easier and more pleasant.
We hoped that any scheme would retain and enhance space for those walking and running, that there would be a high-quality two-way cycleway that would maintain essential, but not unnecessary, access for drivers, including for coastguard and other emergency vehicles, and that all this would offer a quieter and safer environment for residents who would experience less speeding and traffic noise, and find the road easier to cross.
More generally, as we discussed in our responses to the council’s earlier consultation of cycle routes around the borough (see here, for example), all proposals for improved infrastructures for cycling and walking should meet LTN1/20, the government’s guidance for local authorities on designing high-quality, safe cycle infrastructure.
The key principles include:
- No shared space putting in conflict pedestrians and cyclists
- Road space (either carriageway and/or parking), not walking space, reallocated to active travel
- Cyclists get priority at side roads for safety and continuity
- Cycleway wide enough to accommodate high volume of cyclists (numbers likely to increase) and all types of cycles (tricycles, cargo bikes) for inclusivity – bare minimum is 2m wide (for low volume of cyclists) with a buffer zone where appropriate
- Directness – cyclists shouldn’t have to go around the block
Some specific questions to ask about these plans include:
- Is the proposal underpinned by a coherent (motor) traffic circulation plan that encourages use of the coast as a destination rather than a through route between Shields and Blyth? If options are being consulted on, are they consistent with this plan? Is permeability for emergency services being used as an excuse to allow unrestricted car access?
- Where motor traffic is diverted from the coast are the streets that are to take this traffic also being upgraded to offer appropriate segregation between active travel and motor vehicles? Is the overall picture getting consistently better or are some places which already have problems getting worse?
- Do the proposals genuinely link into and through the destinations en route and at either end? For example, do the plans allow those on cycles to continue through to Tynemouth Front Street and onto to North Shields? What about the north end and the links to St Mary’s Lighthouse? Or into the town centres and residential areas?
- Is the cycleway being built to sufficient standard to meet the needs of different kinds of cyclists, from the very large number of people using road bikes along the coast to those with young children or on non-standard bikes? Is it consistently of good width and surface quality? Is it consistently prioritised at every side road junction, including the beach access points?
- Is sufficient width and capacity being created to accommodate growth?
- Where is space coming from? When a choice is made between taking space from pedestrians or car parking, what happens?
- Is the overall experience for pedestrians going to be better or worse as a result of the changes?
- Are the proposals of sufficient quality to create a shift in perceptions both within the borough and how we are seen from outside? Does the ambition match the new 2030 climate target? Will the tourism offer be transformed?
We’ll be publishing more blogs in the coming weeks and days – but please do get in touch with us in the comments below, or on Facebook or Twitter, if you have suggestions or questions. If you’d like to help us campaign for better infrastructures for cycling and walking on the coast and across the borough, email us.