Almost a year ago we wrote about some changes that were being proposed for the streets between Heaton Park Road and Heaton Road.
After a long wait, the changes are set to be implemented on a trial basis and temporary measures are due to be installed at the end of October 2022.
When any change is implemented there will be some disruption while people get used to it. With this in mind we have gathered together some of the most frequently raised responses when similar changes have been made elsewhere in the city and around the country.
The Council have set up a page explaining the changes, which also has a place to leave feedback on each of the interventions. You can find this at https://safeheatontrials.commonplace.is/
Read on for some of the most common questions that get asked when changes like this are made.
It’s day one and it isn’t working
In the first few days there will inevitably be some disruption as people get used to the changes and adapt their routine appropriately. People take time to adapt to any sort of change.
The real test is how the changes perform over an extended period, and monitoring should be in place to measure that.
I need to get to my house/work/shops/other location
It will still be possible to get to any location or house that it is currently possible to get to, in a car. You may need to use a slightly different route, but nowhere will be inaccessible. No roads are being closed, it just won’t be possible for through traffic to use them to go through the area.
Traffic will divert down my street instead
The most noticeable change for people who currently use Heaton as a through route will be that Heaton Park View will no longer connect to Warwick Street.
Each of the parallel streets to the south of Heaton Park View will also have a filter to prevent any remaining traffic using those streets instead.
The junction of Wandsworth Road and Heaton Park Road will be getting changed permanently (the rest are trial changes for now)and will include a new crossing so is covered by different legal orders so may be shown on different plans.
This will put more traffic on surrounding roads.
A lot of Heaton’s streets, including in the area of the new scheme, form a grid pattern. Any traffic that used the east-west streets that are being filtered came from, or went to, one of the north-south streets. Traffic levels on those streets is unlikely to increase as any traffic that previously used the filtered streets will have also used the surrounding roads before and afterwards. There may be a decrease in traffic on the surrounding roads as people driving through switch to main roads further afield.
One exception could be North View, which is a wider road with few houses that are set back from the carriageway. This is why the bus route goes that way and no longer uses Cardigan Terrace.
My journey will be longer
People traveling to or from addresses in the area may have to take a different route but this will only extend trips by a matter of metres.
People who travelled through the area from the city centre or central motorway to get to the Coast Road can use Jesmond Road, which is the same distance and time. It may appear busier, but the road and junctions are designed to move large volumes of traffic.
People who travelled through the area from the city centre or central motorway to get to areas of Heaton near Chillingham Road can use New Bridge Street or the Coast Road. The extra distance is 0.1 of a mile.
In most cases, people would need to divert off main roads to get to Warwick Street in the first place in order to drive through the area that is being improved. While there may be a perception that those routes take longer as there is more traffic on them, in reality they are designed to cope with the volume and large numbers of vehicles pass through the junctions with each cycle of the light.
Congestion will be increased / Air quality will be worse
The cause of congestion is too many vehicles. Between 2012 and 2019 there was an increase of 82,000,000 miles driven per year in Newcastle. 26,000,000 of those miles were driven in cars and taxis. There are now just under 100 000 cars registered in the city.
Congestion is caused by people in cars having to wait for other people in cars going in different directions. Fewer junctions or fewer people wanting to use existing junctions eases congestions as there is less need to stop for other people.
If people feel safe on streets they are much more likely to choose to walk or cycle shorter journeys, reducing traffic overall.
Approximately 40% of households in Newcastle don’t have access to a car. People without a car still need to get about safely. Making streets safer means that there will be more options for people without cars to get around. People are far more likely to walk or cycle when they feel safe.
While disabled people have a wide range of needs the proposed changes shouldn’t make any difference to what people can currently do. Anybody who needs access to a vehicle will still be able to use one exactly as they do now, and access to all locations will still be available for all vehicles.
In fact, quieter streets will create an improved, safer environment for anybody using a wheelchair, mobility scooter or other mobility aid to get around.
The emergency service have to be consulted on changes like those being made and will have told the Council about any concerns they have so appropriate changes can be made.
In response to similar changes elsewhere in the city, the North East Ambulance Service said “they [NEAS] maintain a neutral position in their response to these types of consultations but strongly support measures that seek to improve road safety and reduce accidents and injuries.”
They went on to add “Generally, Ambulances prefer to travel on main roads and enter residential roads as close to the destination as possible.”
Tyne and Wear Fire Service, in response to other similar changes in the city had a similar response and said “The Fire service’s priority is to attend an incident within the shortest time possible and leave the main road as close to the incident as possible”.
There hasn’t been any evidence from anywhere else in the country that the emergency services get delayed by this sort of scheme.
Why is my street being filtered?
Heaton has had many filtered streets for decades and there has been no campaign to change this. The latest changes simply apply the same methods to streets that don’t currently benefit from filters.
On the map below, red dots indicate existing filters and the blue shared areas show where through traffic has been excluded.
Nobody cycles, is this needed?
Firstly, the changes are not just about cycling. By removing through traffic that could be on main roads streets become quieter and safer, which makes it much more likely that people will choose to walk short journeys – to school for example – which in turn removes vehicles from the roads and leave more space for the people who do need to drive.
The Sustrans Walking and Cycling Index 2021 found that 49% of Newcastle residents walked on five days a week and 93% of all residents walk at some point.
The same survey found that 36% of all residents cycle and 16% cycle at least once week.
The roads were built for cars so shouldn’t be filtered
Most of Heaton was built from the 1880s onwards, with the area covered by this scheme being one of the earlier areas built. This was a long time before cars were widely available. The patent for what could be considered the first car was only applied for in 1886, so it’s unlikely much consideration was given to cars in their current for when Heaton was being planned and built.
There’s plenty of photography available that shows how Heaton’s streets looked around the 1930s and 1940s which show nearby streets practically devoid of cars. See here, here, here and here.
Heaton History Group has some great photographs of what typical Heaton streets looked like closer to when they were built on their website.
One of the biggest changes of recent times is cars crowding streets that weren’t designed for them.