Heaton Road Cycle Lane Update

Update

After the last public consultation the the Council have put together detailed responses to a lot of the questions raised.

You can read the document on the Streets for People website.

The plans

Designs have been drawn up to extend the protected cycle lane on Heaton Road from it’s existing end point near Meldon Terrace. The extension would continue the protected lane northwards to the Coast Road. Additionally, some side roads that currently widen where they join Heaton Road will be improved to make it safer and easier for people to cross them when walking along Heaton Road.

You can view the plans online here.

This scheme continues on from the existing lanes on Heaton Road and will go to the Corner House junction. The extensions will be slightly different the the existing stretch – the cycle lane will be a t road level, separated from the pavement by the existing kerbs with a new kerb to separate the cycle lane from the road.

It is important if you support the scheme and think it will help make Heaton a better, safer place that positive responses get heard. You can express your support at the drop-in session, by emailing Alison Lamb at the City Council and by letting your local councillors know you’d like to see this implemented.

You can find out the email address of your councillor here, by choosing the ward you live in.

Recent newsletters from the Councillors covering the wider Heaton area from both parties show they appear keen to make progress towards a cleaner, safer environment but they are much more likely to make positive decisions if they have public backing so drop them a quick email if you like the look of the scheme.

Read on if you would like to find out about the reasons that improvements are needed and why this scheme could help make the area better.

Public Health

In a presentation to the City Council[i] in June, Eugene Milne, Director of Public Health, reported that 2 child and maternal health indicators are heading in the wrong direction, one of which is childhood obesity.

Later on, while referring to a study on how traffic effects health[ii] he said “But I would suggest that there is a growing evidence base to show that protective and health improving physical and social infrastructure may be at the heart of a truly effective approach to population health improvement.”

The presentation also had data that showed the number of children killed or seriously injured on roads in Newcastle is far higher than the national average (32 per 100000 in Newcastle against 17.4 in England, 2015-17).

The Heaton Road scheme would extent the existing Heaton Road cycle lane and bring it closer to schools that children travel to using Heaton Road. Providing a safe cycling route from Heaton and Byker to Heaton Manor and St Mary’s schools would contribute to safer physical infrastructure as well as allowing children to be more active safely, which could help reduce the occurrence of childhood obesity.

You can read the report on the City Council website. 


[i] Presentation – Director of Public Health annual report, pg 4 https://democracy.newcastle.gov.uk/documents/s145125/2018-19%20DPH%20Annual%20Report%20-%20Final%2026th%20June.pdf

[ii] Appleyard, D. Livable streets, protected neighborhoods. (University of California Press, 1981).

Road Safety

Automatic traffic surveys carried by the council is the early part of the Heaton Road project counted and measured the speed of vehicles on Heaton Road.

The speed survey showed that the 85th percentile was between 30mph and 31mph during the day. This means that 15% of vehicles passing the survey point were traveling above the 30mph speed limit.

With 51761 vehicles counted over a 7 day period this suggests that over 7700 vehicles were moving in excess of the speed limit across the week. Speeding traffic does not lead to a safe environment for children traveling to school. Protective infrastructure added to the street would provide a much safer environment that would allow children to walk and cycle to school by separating them from fast moving vehicles.

Northbound traffic volumes on Heaton Road

You can see the results on the traffic survey online at https://www.heatontrafficstats.co.uk/street/heaton-road

Climate Emergency

At the April meeting of the City Council a motion on calling a Climate Emergency was submitted by the Liberal Democrats and amended by the Labour Party, with the Council passing the motion (41 votes in favour and 15 against.

The Council endorsed the view that “All government bodies have a duty to limit the negative impacts of Climate Change. It is important for the residents of Newcastle that we commit to carbon neutrality as quickly as possible;”. It also called on the government to provide powers and resources to help the council become carbon neutral by 2030.

Given that the money for the Streets for People project comes from the Department for Transport’s Cycle City Ambition Fund, the Heaton Road scheme fits well with the Council’s current aims set out in the motion that was passed.

The full text of the motion that the Council passed can be read in the meeting minutes.

Air Quality

The Coast Road through Heaton is one of the areas that has been identified as having illegal levels of NO2 pollution. Newcastle University’s Urban Observatory have a sensor at the Corner House junction that consistently shows levels of NO2 above the legal limit.

Readings of Nitrogen Dioxide at the Corner House junction
Air quality readings from a sensor at the Corner House junction

Various suggestions have been put forward to tackle this, but they all have the aim of reducing motor traffic in one way or another.

The only way a reduction in motor traffic will be seen, is if safe, direct alternatives are provided. The proposed scheme on Heaton Road is a good step towards having safe alternatives for people travelling north-south through this area.

Additionally, studies show that children are exposed to higher levels of pollution inside cars than those outside walking or cycling.

Safe walking and cycling routes to schools could have a big effect of reducing children’s exposure to air pollution as well as going some way to reducing the number of vehicles on the road at peak times.
 If you would like to see daily updates of readings from the monitor at the Corner House follow @airheaton on Twitter. This automatic feed shares the latest readings each morning.

Streets for People update

There has been an announcement from the Council on the progress of the Streets for People projects taking place in areas around the city, including Heaton.

The comments collected from the consultation exercise in October and November 2017 have now been assessed against the initial proposals drawn up by the reference groups in the three project areas.

There were more than 2600 responses to the consultation for in the Heaton and Ouseburn area which suggest many people heard about the proposals and submitted their thoughts. SPACE for Heaton also submitted a response which you can read here.

The consultation results have now been published by the council. You can read the full document on the Streets for People website or download it directly (PDF).

What happens now?

The next step is for officers at the Council to create detailed plans that take in to account the results from the consultation. The original timeline for the project suggested that these plans would be available around now but things appear to have slipped a bit.

Hopefully, once the local elections have happened (which prevents Council announcements for the duration) we will be able to see detailed schemes that are ready for formal consultation and implementation.

Streets for People Response

The consultation for the Heaton and Ouseburn Streets for People project is coming to a close at the end of November and SPACE for Heaton has submitted a response to the proposals.

The proposals can be seen on the Streets for People website. Our response is detailed below.

Heaton Road

We strongly support the proposed cycle lanes on the northern section of Heaton Road and see it as a strategic priority cycle route for the city with the longer-term potential to connect north – south linking schools, the hospital and employment locations such as the Ministry. We would like to see the principle of one cycle lane on each side of the road kept as this is the safest layout as it avoids cyclists having to move from one carriageway across traffic to another. We would like to see this completed to the highest standard possible within the available budget.

We strongly prefer new cycle ways being given some protection (especially for new and young riders) by placing them inside not outside any car parking bays.

At the junction of Heaton Road and Cartington Terrace we don’t see a problem with retaining the current traffic signals. If they are to be retained, we would like to see a cycle phase included in the light sequence, as has been done at the junction of Heaton Road and Cardigan Terrace recently, to release cycles ahead of people in cars. This will allow people on bikes to safely turn on to other streets if they desire, before people in cars make this difficult and dangerous.

We don’t think the full closure of Alexandra Road and Cartington Terrace is necessary but would urge the Council to consider alternative means of traffic calming to discourage through traffic possibly by using experimental measures. We would particularly like to see some discouragement to through traffic at the junction of Cartington Terrace and Chillingham Road by the Post Office as this location is made difficult for pedestrians by people parking on yellow lines and the pavement.

Heaton Park Road

The proposals for Heaton Park Road look very good and we fully support them. The proposed changes should make the street more people friendly as well as bringing a welcome refresh to how it looks. The additional crossing will increase the safety of people wanting to get from one side to the other and emphasise pedestrian priority.

We feel more could be made to provide an easier crossing of the strategic cycle route over Heaton Park Road but appreciate this would cause problems with the proposed new crossing.

 

Heaton Park View

We welcome the proposed changes along Heaton Park View which should bring a bit of balance to people using the street on foot. The blended footways will make it considerably easier and safer for pedestrians to travel along the streets while not making it any harder for anyone else.

In combination with the changes to the junction with Stannington Grove and Heaton Park View we would like to see the priorities with Wandsworth Road/Stannington Avenue changed to prioritise the cycle route that goes through that junction. This would only need road markings to be changed and would further help to underline that people driving should give way to people travelling more sustainably.

The changes to the Heaton Park Road and Warwick street junction seem appropriate and bring some emphasis to pedestrian desire lines that are ignored in the current layout.

 

Warwick Street and Newington Road Junction

We support the changes to this junction. We would like to emphasise that the final plans should look at the details of cycle manoeuvring. For example, the left turn from Warwick Street going east on to Newington Road southbound will be difficult in traffic if the cycle entrance is narrow and has 90-degree corners. Likewise, the right turn procedure for cyclists from Warwick Street will need to be totally obvious. While these manoeuvres are not likely to be the most frequent uses of the junction, if they are possible they will happen, so need to be safe for people making them.

 

Road Safety around Ravenswood Primary School

We welcome any proposals near schools that improve the safety of children.

The new and modified crossings on Chillingham Road are very welcome. The islands they replace made crossing, particularly with children, very difficult. Being able to cross the road in one go will be a convenient a safe improvement to the current layout. Providing more space on the west side of the crossing nearest the school is a welcome change too.

The blended pavements along Chillingham road should help to slow turning traffic and emphasise that priority should be given to people on the pavement.