Newcastle cycling campaigners say city council's safer Great North Road plans are being 'done in a hurry'

Newcycling accuses Newcastle City Council of poor planning over cycle lanes

Iain Buist Osbourne Road, Jesmond, Newcastle
Osbourne Road, Jesmond, Newcastle

Cycling campaigners in Newcastle have warned that a council plan to make Gosforth’s Great North Road safer for all road-users is flawed.

Newcycling has urged Newcastle City Council to look again at proposals for cycle lanes between the Hollywood Avenue junction and Broadway roundabout, amid claims the authority has rushed into action.

The council has vowed to develop a cycling culture in which 20 per cent of journeys under five miles are taken by bike by 2021, and after £6 million of Government funding, work began in June on the Great North Road to create the first of seven strategic cycle routes into the city centre.

Katja Leyendecker, chair of Newcycling, said while the principle to set aside dedicated space for cycling was good, design flaws would leave cyclists in danger and put off potential new riders.

She explained: “It’s great that Newcastle City Council is doing something but it’s massively important that we, together, get this right.

“I remain as worried about the council’s capacity to design for cycling as I do about their ability to communicate and discuss clearly their plans.

“We keep hearing the ‘technical group’ is the bunch of people who sorts this out but we sit on that group and we can say that we are given very little time to put forward real plans and thoughtfully explore design options.

“Newcastle wants to make cycling an irresistible choice for all, to improve our city’s economy, vitality, social connectivity and competitiveness with other cities.”

Newcycling argues that the advisory cycle lane - a painted dashed line on the road - between Harewood House and Broadway roundabout does not offer riders enough protection on the busy road and should be replaced by a cycle path with car parking between it and the road.

Campaigners also state cycle routes should not cross slip roads, as planned, and that southbound traffic should not be able to turn right into Knightsbridge, cutting across cyclists’ path, and should instead be forced to make a u-turn in Hollywood Avenue.

Katja said: “The various schools on Great North Road would make it absolutely vital to design the cycle infrastructure to a very high quality otherwise parents will remain unimpressed and won’t let their eight-year-old cycle to school.”

A spokesman for Newcastle City Council said: “We have been working on a set of proposals for improving the Great North Road.

“This is being done in full consultation with residents, councillors and user groups, including the Newcastle Cycling Campaign.

“Their advice and experience is helping us to shape our plans and make sure that any scheme is safe for cyclists to use. We welcome their ideas about the design, as we always have done.”

Calls to make Osborne Road access-only in effort to deter through-traffic

Osborne Road should be an access only road for Jesmond rather than a route for through-traffic, according to election candidates discussing the topic at a hustings event.

How to tackle traffic on the busy street was top of the agenda at Jesmond library when representatives of five political parties vying for the North Jesmond seat were grilled by a packed public gallery.

The transport-focused event was organised by city cycling campaign Newcycling and featured Conservative Duncan Crute, Liberal Democrat Gerry Keating, Ukip’s Daniel Thompson, Labour’s Peter Smith and Shehla Naqvi of the Green Party.

All five panellists said more action needed to be taken to stop Osborne Road being used as a through-road in an effort to make it more attractive to cyclists and pedestrians - in addition to ongoing hopes for a 20mph speed limit.

Katja Leyendecker, Newcycling chair, said: “A lot of the people driving on the road do not live anywhere in Jesmond. They are simply travelling through and they only take away from the area rather than give.

“All the candidates said Osborne Road should not be for through-traffic and should be an access only route. It was good to hear.”

Options to improve Acorn Road were again discussed, while the candidates also said if elected they would back the nationwide Space for Cycling campaign.

Sally Watson, who is leading Newcycling’s Jesmond branch, added: “Osborne Road is often mentioned but the focus seems to very much be on Acorn Road. Nevertheless, everybody is aware there is a problem there and we need to discourage motorists just passing through.

“There are ways to design a road which wouldn’t require closing it off but we need to do something to put people off.”

Speaking after the event, Labour’s Peter Smith said Osborne Road was crucial to the future of Jesmond.

He explained: “As I understand it the 20mph limit will happen eventually but it needs to be a road for access, and that was widely agreed.”

Meanwhile, Miss Leyendecker said the event was promising but she was disappointed at the make-up of the audience.

She said: “In the future we have to try to engage certain younger groups - families and students - to get involved in discussions about the future of Jesmond because this is their home too.”


David Whetstone
Culture Editor
Graeme Whitfield
Business Editor
Mark Douglas
Newcastle United Editor
Stuart Rayner
Sports Writer