Local environmentalists set up polling machines

Members of Transition Jesmond have set up polling machines as part of a local survey into how shoppers travel to and from Jesmond.

The machines, a first for Newcastle, have been set up in two supermarkets – Tesco on Acorn Road and Waitrose on Osborne Road – while another polling machine will be set up in Jesmond Library on St George’s Terrace in the near future.

The survey is a collaboration between Transition Jesmond and Newcastle University’s CultureLab of Newcastle University. The machines give members of the public the opportunity to describe the modes of transport they used to reach the site.

Transition Jesmond is working with other environmental groups, local residents and Newcastle City Council to investigate options for reducing traffic on Acorn Road to make it a more attractive place to shop.

Tony Waterston of Transition Jesmond told JesmondLocal: “Many residents feel that Acorn Road is not a pleasant place to shop owing to the severe traffic congestion and difficulties in parking on the street. We are looking at possible alternative traffic and parking arrangements which will benefit the traders who make such a vital contribution to Jesmond. The use of the polling machines will tell us how people are travelling at present which is just the start of our survey, but we are excited at trying out this simple technique.”

Nick Taylor of Newcastle University’s CultureLab told JesmondLocal: “Getting input from members of the public is very important for good governance, but it can be difficult for people to take time out of their busy lives to do so. We’ve been exploring simple, engaging new ways of collecting input that require minimal effort. Our idea is that simple polling devices in public spaces like shops, where people will pass them regularly and can vote easily, could help councils and groups like Transition Jesmond to collect large amounts of data to inform public decisions.”

The polling machines will remain in each venue for a month.