It’s time Newcastle City Council took action towards safer cycling in Jesmond, Katja Leyendecker, the chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign, told a public meeting at Newcastle Cricket Club on Osborne Avenue last Wednesday.
After the meeting, convened by North Jesmond councillor Peter Breakey, Leyendecker told JesmondLocal: “It’s great to see so many residents gather to passionately talk and think bike. The outcome of the gathering however was less clear. I had really hoped for the council to take all the info and put together a design report for further discussion. Instead we were asked by the councillors to further refine the proposals, and rank them by ease of installation.”
According to Leyendecker, Jesmond lacks the cycle signings, road crossings, traffic lights and junctions that would enable cyclists to travel along a safe route. Osborne Road is particularly dangerous, due to heavy traffic and parked cars, yet cannot be avoided when cycling through Jesmond.
One suggestion proposed by a local resident was that cyclists should be given priority over motorists, as is the case in countries such as the Netherlands, Germany and Italy.
Anne Clark from the council’s Department of Environment and Regeneration responded: “It is a great idea but this would be a national issue, which cannot be introduced in only one city in the UK.”
Leyendecker then asked: “Does someone has to die before the council will act?”
Tony Waterston of Transition Jesmond told JesmondLocal: “The meeting was less good in demonstrating a commitment to new thinking from the traffic engineers, and highlighted the general feeling that there is no money for bigger changes. I think Osborne Road will be a good indication of whether there is a political commitment to put cyclists above cars in the hierarchy of priorities for the council.”
Nevertheless, there has been an improvement on Brighton Grove in Fenham where two bike lanes where introduced recently and tested by councillor Nigel Todd, said Leyendecker.
A working group is due to present short term and long term solutions to the council.