2 Apr 2012

Council snubs its own safe cycling pledge - press release

Submitted by Katsdekker

02.04.2012 PRESS RELEASE FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

- Local government fails cycling again
- Portas Report blamed for putting parking before people
- Campaign appeals for help from Minister

Like many local authorities North Tyneside was quick to pledge its support for The Times Cities Fit For Cycling Campaign. But local bicyclists say the pledge was mere lip service as construction at a key location on the A193 was underway making it dangerously unfit for cycling.

Since 2004 the Traffic Management Act has put a legal duty on local highway authorities to prioritise through traffic, including pedestrian and bicycle traffic. Despite this, local authorities continue to commission changes to road layouts with little regard for the impact on anyone travelling by bike.

Marden Bridge (A193) is the only access from the South into Whitley Bay centre. As an A-Road every taxpayer in the UK pays towards its upkeep. Contractors appeared on site without warning and have taken space from the road's verge and the carriageway to create on-street car parking.

Whitley Bay blogger Karl McCracken said "My daughter rides this route most days on her way to school. When we first saw contractors on site we thought they would be trying to make it safer. When we realised they were building a car park on a bridge we could not believe our eyes".

Newcastle Cycling Campaign spokesperson Tom Bailey said "We hoped to see improvements when North Tyneside Council signed up to Cities Fit for Cycling. Instead our Council have managed to turn a location from being merely in need of improvement to an absolute disaster zone. Newcastle Cycling Campaign doubts the legality of what has gone on and have written directly to Minister Norman Baker asking for his help.

"Mary Portas' recent report into High Street Retail called for cut priced parking close to High Streets. This seems to have been misinterpreted as being an invitation to cram in more parking onto through routes at the expense of road safety.”

Katja Leyendecker, chair of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign adds "We want Government to step in and put a stop to this particular project, and more globally to issue clear guidance to local authorities to create clear space for cycling. If we sit back and let the authorities carry on with business-as-usual and designing cycling - and walking for that matter - out of our local streetscapes, nothing will ever change. The easier we make it for people to drive, the more likely they are to drive to out of town retail parks, further damaging the town centres' economies."

Contact Karl McCracken || 07828 60 4349 || newcastle.cycling.campaign@gmail.com

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Notes to editor:

Newcastle Cycling Campaign videoed traffic volumes equating to 1600 vehicles per hour through Marden Bridge http://youtu.be/FQK7mO28Its

Newcastle Cycling Campaign is a local campaign group covering Newcastle Upon Tyne, Gateshead and North Tyneside http://www.newcycling.org/. The Campaign recently featured prominently alongside Minister Norman Baker in the launch of the Parliamentary Cycling Group’s “Summer of Cycling” http://youtu.be/vracovyb9Pw.

Karl McCracken is the author of the blog “Do the right thing…” http://karlmccracken.sweat365.com/ and lives in Whitley Bay.