Campaigners claim Newcastle city centre cycle plans are off track

Local cycle campaign group Newcycling says Newcastle City Council plans are behind schedule and could lose cash

Katja Leyendecker, chair of cycle campaign group Newcycling
Katja Leyendecker, chair of cycle campaign group Newcycling

Campaigners have claimed a North East council “risks serious ridicule” over its plans to make a city more cycle-friendly.

Last August it was announced Newcastle was to receive £5.7m from the Department for Transport through its Cycle City Ambition Fund.

The city council’s Fit For Cycling Bid, which secured the cash, included a network of seven routes to be completed over 10 years.

Its plans included sections on four of them – to Scotswood, the Town Moor, Gosforth Park and Walker – to be completed by March next year.

But local cycle campaign group Newcycling, which in 2010 delivered a petition calling for safe cycling routes throughout the city, claims after conducting an assessment of how the plans are progressing, they discovered a number of projects are running more than a year late, and some have not been started at all.

Katja Leyendecker, a civil engineer and chair of the group, said: “We want Newcastle’s excellent and ambitious policies of a better fairer city to be implemented, better sooner than later.

“So it’s sad to note that four years on from the petition being handed to council in 2010, the sweeping road changes that were promised to improve cycling safety have not been done.

“The money is there. It is our assessment however, that millions of pounds will be left unspent and will be lost, as could be Newcastle’s reputation as a city, because projects are stuck in planning stage or not even started yet.

“We looked at the available figures and plans and found that the City Ambition programme is massively behind its original schedule; some projects are more than a year late.

“I believe the council is kidding itself to think they will deliver this by the deadline next year.”

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: “It is simply not true that we are in danger of losing millions. To the contrary, we’ve been very successful in securing millions to invest in our cycle network. We are making good progress towards the deadline of March 2015 and the Newcastle Cycling Campaign is well aware of this, as well as the complexities involved in delivering such ambitious changes to our city.

“We are right at the start of a 10 year cycling strategy for Newcastle and we are confident it will be delivered in line with other cycling cities and to the standards set by the Department for Transport. Speculation such as this is unhelpful at a time when we are trying to pull together to provide better conditions for cycling across the city – and to project a more cycle-friendly image of Newcastle.”

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