Safe Heaton

In November 2021 the City Council announced some proposals for trials that would hopefully reduce  traffic travelling through Heaton and improve facilities for people walking or cycling.

There are numerous proposals, focusing on the area to the west of Heaton Road and an initial consultation exercise to gather people’s views was carried out shortly after the announcements were made.

You can read about the proposals at https://safeheaton.commonplace.is/.

The SPACE for Heaton Response

As part of the initial consultation exercise SPACE for Heaton submitted a response, which you can read below.

Generally

We are supportive of these proposals, reducing through traffic from the residential streets of Heaton is one of the primary ways of making a Safer Pedestrian and Cycling Environment for all.  The concept of engagement, trial and more formal feedback gives residents and businesses a chance to try before they buy.

We hope the trial is given a fair chance to bed in and for people to adapt to the changes, appreciate the benefits and make that vital modal shift to more sustainable transport choices.

We are hopeful that although the measures are described as temporary, they will be delivered using robust and high quality materials, and wherever possible, introduce planting, street trees and sustainable urban drainage solutions.

Our feedback to the individual interventions is as follows;

  • Ouseburn Road – Closure to traffic

This is a good idea. While it’s not a busy road, many people walk and cycle along it and a car, even being driven at relatively low speeds, causes significant problems on some of the blind bends. Stopping through traffic while keeping access to the allotments is a sensible solution.

There may be potential future issues with people turning the parts of the road accessible by car in to a car park if they think they won’t be blocking the way but that can be addressed if it becomes a problem.

We’d like some reassurance from the Council that the road surface will continue to be maintained, as it would if it was still open to traffic, I.e. being swept of debris, rubbish and leaves to ensure it is safe to use all year round.

  • Warwick Street – Heaton Park View

This proposal is very welcome. This, in combination with other streets being filtered, could have a positive affect across the area beyond Heaton Park View. Stopping this being a through route could see a reduction in traffic on Warwick Street and Heaton Road too as currently it appears to be used as a route to and from the Coast Road.

For people travelling through the area, either west bound to the city centre or east bound towards the coast, there are other routes on main roads that are a very similar distance and often quicker.

For drivers on Stoddart Street, it’s a shorter route to the Coast Road sticking to main roads than it is to go through the residential streets of Heaton.

There may be very slightly longer journeys for people living west of Chillingham Road for those people who have to drive but the difference is a few hundred metres extra and the proposals may encourage some people who are capable to walk or cycle instead.

It’s likely that some car journeys made by residents will need to go a slightly different route but any extra distance will be minimal and the benefits will outweigh that.

It will also improve access to and from Heaton Park, which is currently challenging to pedestrians and cyclists.

  • Bollingbroke Street – Heaton Park View

This proposal is the one we have most reservations about, the streets to the west of Heaton Park View are already effectively filtered at Newington Road and Stratford Road junctions to Warwick Street.  This filter, when combined with the proposal for Mowbray Street has the potential to divert more traffic down South View West, Malcolm Street and on Hotspur Street.  We feel that this intervention could be better deployed on South View West, between the Elizabeth Street Bridge and Stratford Road to reduce the volume of through traffic on the last remaining route.

  • Stratford Road – Mowbray Street

We are supportive of this proposed intervention, it aligns with the Strategic Cycle Route and will make it easier to travel east/west.  It will also potentially reduce speeds on Stratford Road itself.  We’d like to suggest that the double yellow lines are extended to the full 10m from the junction, as described in the Highway Code Rule 243 to ensure clear visibility for all users is maintained at all times.

If this becomes a permanent adaption, could we have continuous footways on either side to ensure that vehicles slow at the junction and to make sure that walking and wheeling is as easy as it can be?  There are already significant drainage issues at this junction, and a lack of dropped kerbs on one arm of the junction.

  • Cardigan Terrace – Heaton Hall Road

We are supportive of this proposed intervention, as a filter on this street is required to reduce through traffic in the whole area.  However, we are slightly concerned that introducing a filter half way along the street may cause confusion for delivery vehicles etc.  It may have been better to introduce this filter at the Heaton Park View end.

  • Heaton Road – Falmouth Road

We are supportive of this proposed intervention, as a filter on this street is required to reduce through traffic in the whole area.  However there are already long-standing issues with drivers parking on the pavement build outs on Heaton Road either side of the junction into Falmouth Road.  This makes it difficult to cross Heaton Road to the bus stops.  We hope that the Council have observed these and will replace the bollards that have been lost over the years to prevent pavement parking on Heaton Road as part of this intervention.

  • Stannington Avenue

We are supportive of this proposed intervention, as the street is not wide enough to support parking on both sides.

  • School Street at Hotspur Primary School

We are supportive of this proposed intervention and look forward to the publication of further details as to how this will work.  Any physical barriers must be accessible to cyclists as the Strategic Cycle Route runs through the middle of the School Street Zone.  If the intervention is to be introduced using ANPR cameras, will this effectively introduce a residents parking permit scheme to a specific area?

There are a number of drivers who park on the pavements either side of Mowbray Street between Stratford Road and the first back lane.  This presents a clear danger to pedestrians and we’d ask that either physical barriers, such as bike stands, trees or bollards are installed to prevent this, or as a minimum the double yellow lines are extended to prevent this.

  • Heaton Park Road – Mowbray Street – Wandsworth Road

We are supportive of this proposal, it was one of the interventions developed as part of the Streets for People Project.  It will improve walking and cycling connectivity across Heaton Park Road and make it easier to travel east / west on the Strategic Cycle Route.  As with Falmouth Road, there are long standing issues with drivers parking on the private frontages to the shops in the area, often parking on the pavement itself.  We hope the proposed intervention has taken this into account.

Additional Proposals

Would it be possible to improve the permeability of a number of the historic filters?  The filter between Stratford Road and Warwick Street is OK for pedestrians, but lacks dropped kerbs and parking restrictions to enable cycling through.  Similarly the existing filter between Heaton Road and Heaton Grove could be improved to reflect the changes in practice and design as implemented on Stannington Avenue.

Implementation

We would like to see a detailed programme for the implementation of these measures.  Some are described as trial measures and some described as permanent interventions.  We are concerned that if measures are implemented one street at a time, over a number of weeks or months, drivers may find their way through the filters.  We are particularly mindful of the process to install speed bumps on Heaton Park View, where traffic was diverted down Wandsworth Road, and once HPV was re-opened, some of the through traffic continued to use Wandsworth Road.

We realise that a lot of traffic and deliveries make routing decisions based on sat navs and electronic mapping.  Will these be updated to minimise disruption at the same time?

Finally, will the Council be briefing all Council departments about these changes?  The introduction of the filter on Tintern Crescent appeared to cause issues for bin collections for a while.

Trial

Whilst supportive of this methodology of trialling the measures, we would like reassurance and visibility of the process to amend the trial if a measure is found to exacerbate problems elsewhere.  We’re concerned that through traffic may simply start to use the backlanes, or even start to zig zag through on Cardigan Terrace, Heaton Hall Road and Falmouth Road.  Can the Council reassure us that such feedback will be listened to and acted upon, if appropriate, in a timely manner?

Next Steps

Whilst these measures are welcome and we are sure will give residents the opportunity to adapt to the changes, we are keen to resolve a few other issues that are of concern to residents.  Whilst we understand that the No1 bus route is important, it does present some challenges to the residents on Warwick Street.  The majority of drivers park half on the pavement, restricting the available width for pedestrians.

Can we suggest that a future intervention could be introducing double yellow lines on Warwick Street opposite the junction of Parkville and extending the existing lines to 10m either side of the junction, would create a “passing place” for buses, allowing drivers to park fully on the road.

If the proposed filters do not see a reduction in traffic using Warwick Street then there is a further measure that might work.  The introduction of a traffic light controlled Bus Gate at the top of Warwick Street, and Heaton Park Road.  Non-bus traffic heading north on Heaton Park Road could be diverted onto Hotspur Street, and non-bus traffic heading east on Warwick Street could be diverted north onto Stratford Road.  This would significantly reduce through traffic from this street if the other measures prove ineffective in reducing traffic volumes on this street.

The e-scooters are coming

From the 15th February 2021 it will be possible to rent an e-scooter for the first time in Newcastle. Initially Heaton won’t be covered but the scooters will be available in the city centre. The area of use may expand as the trail progresses though.

SPACE for Heaton has had a look around the app used for the trial to see how the scheme will operate.

The scheme is being run by Neuron Mobility and their app is called ‘Neuron – Escooter Sharing’ and the app is in the usual app stores (Android, Apple) .

Firstly, it’s important to note that it will only be legal to ride the official scooters on the road – riding a privately owned e-scooter on the road will continue to be illegal.

Registration

E-scooter app signup page
The registration page in the app.

To use the trial scooters, you must be at least 18 years old and have a full or provisional driving licence, the details of which are needed to sign up to the service.

Once registered, pay-per-ride costs are £1 + 18p per minute but three-day, weekly and monthly passes are available which will allow riders to ride as often as they want for up to 90 minutes per day.

Zones

The scooters utilise GPS to control the area they will work within, speeds and to incentivise parking. If a scooter is ridden outside the allowed area, it’s motor stops working and the rider will be unable to end the ride. This means that, until the scooter is pushed back into the allowed area, the rider will continue to accrue costs to their credit card.

Additionally, there are no parking zones and low speed zones and no ride zones. While you can ride in a no parking zone it’s not possible to end the ride within the zone, so if a scooter is left the user will continue to accrue charges for it.

GPS controls what can be done where.

Within a low-speed zone, the top speed of the scooter, usually 15mph, will be limited to 9mph. A no ride zone

Early indications from a test zone shown within the app suggest that, if leaving a scooter in a preferred parking zone, the rider will get a voucher towards future rides. It appears that if a scooter is idle for 10 minutes the ride will be automatically ended (unless outside the ride zone or within a no parking zone) to stop unintended charges.

To start or end a ride the phone running the app will need to have internet access, so it won’t be possible to use a device without a data connection of some sort.

The rules

The rules of riding are quite clear that the scooters should not be ridden under the influence of alcohol or any other substance, while wearing headphones or using a device of any kind (including smartwatches). As the scooters can only be ridden on the road and cycle lanes (not pavements) it’s possible that, if caught, riders could get points on their licence for drink driving so it will be worth becoming familiar with the rules before setting out and abiding by them. In addition, all traffic laws need to be adhered to as would be expected.

The scooters

The scooters themselves have built in lights and reflectors, audible alerts with voice guidance, sensors to detect crashes or toppled scooters and reasonable size wheels so they should be able to cope with small imperfections in the road surface.

A lot is made of ‘the world’s first app-controlled helmet lock’ which secures a helmet to every e-scooter in between trips. The promotional material suggests there may be financial incentives for wearing the helmet as well as responsible parking.

Each scooter also has a unique licence plate so it (and the rider who has rented it) can be identified if necessary.

Behind the scenes is a 24h response team to deal with issues and change batteries.

A promotional image of the scooter.

Final thoughts

It looks like a lot of lessons have been learned from bike sharing schemes (or scooters are just more expensive, so more effort is put in to looking after them).

The GPS enforcement of zones, speed and parking should bring a bit of order to the scheme and the signup requirements should encourage responsible riding (and make it possible to sanction to opposite).

For short journeys around the city a scooter is a far more efficient option that a car or taxi so it will be interesting to see how the trial goes over the coming year as the area of availability expands and number of available scooters increase.

It’s good to see quieter, efficient modes of transport being trialed and if it proves a success more people using scooters could help to speed up the creation of more safe, car free routes across the city that can also be used for more active modes of travel.

An open meeting about air quality

SPACE for Heaton will be holding an open meeting on Wednesday 13th February to share information about recent air quality measurements in the Heaton area.

Taking place at Chillingham Road Primary School at 7:15pm there will be a chance to see what has been recorded by monitors put up by the Urban Observatory at Newcastle University as well as see portable monitors.

There will a short presentation on SPACE for Heaton, details about measurements of pollutants taken around the area and some information about the Sense My Street project that helped get the sensors installed as well as some words from one of the Heaton ward councillors.

See the poster below for all the information. We hope to see you there.

We’re SPACE for Heaton – the film

On a very cold, frosty, morning in December some Heaton residents who had heard about the aims of SPACE for Heaton met in Heaton Park. The purpose of the meeting was to make a film that explained what and who SPACE for Heaton is and why it has been created.

After all the clips of people from around Heaton had been gathered together the film has been edited and released to the world.

You can see the film below. If you agree with the message don’t forget to share it with your friends. You can also sign up to our newsletter to keep up to date with what SPACE for Heaton is doing.