The council is currently on site delivering walking and cycling improvements along the A191 Rake Lane and New York Bypass. Living Streets campaigns for better streets, despite some imperfections there is much to like about a substantial reallocation of space to walking and cycling. What we will ask for though is for Cabinet Member for Transport Sandra Graham and Deputy Mayor Carl Johnson to:

1/ Travel the completed route themselves by cycle in both directions, walk the junctions and listen to those who do so every day
2/ Be prepared to go back and fix problems that affect the comfort and safety of people travelling on foot or by cycle.

North Tyneside Council has delivered very little walking and cycling infrastructure in recent years and the lack of experience shows in this project. The only way to fix that is to build, learn lessons and approach the project with care.

We remain concerned that there are two unprotected junctions at the North Tyneside General Hospital entrances. With these unchanged it is difficult to see how the project will attract new people to travel by cycle.

There are aspects of the large roundabout design which will provoke safety concerns from those who use these streets on foot or by cycle today. Some of these issues have got worse not better following consultation, some won’t be clear until after it is built. Getting a complex project like this 100% right takes a degree of experience and skill which doesn’t yet exist in many places. No council can magic up the ability to get this right from almost a standing start.

North Tyneside has dozens of roundabouts large and small that represent a significant barrier to achieving the council’s ambitious 2030 climate commitment. Is what is being done on Rake Lane a model for addressing them? Probably not. But it is an opportunity to learn valuable lessons if it is approached with openness. One objective must remain paramount, streets need to be safe and comfortable for more of us aged 8 to 80 to move around walking or wheeling.

Above all we welcome the council’s desire to do something, at least make a start, ten years is not a long time to transform a transport system and there will be no shortage of naysayers and resistance to change en route.

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