Acorn Road “an injustice”, says campaigner

Acorn Road in Jesmond

Acorn Road in Jesmond

Allocation of road space on Acorn Road is an “injustice”, a cycling campaigner has said.

Empty shops, deserted roads, park benches that have long been in a disused state is a common streetscape scenario repeated on high streets across Britain – but not on the lively, busy and crowded Acorn Road in Jesmond.

Nonetheless, high streets are struggling to maintain their importance in people’s shopping habits and thus the British government commissioned a review of the streets’ critical condition. Mary Portas, a retail expert and self-proclaimed “Queen of Shops”, took on the challenge to explore the future of Britain’s High Streets in 2011. Her review concluded that “local areas should implement free controlled parking schemes.”

An alternative report by Bill Grimsey in March 2013 concluded that councils ought “to make it easier for motorists to shop.” Grimsey suggested implementing two hours of free parking – and potentially abandoning charges outright – for at least one year.

Cycling campaigners in Jesmond disagree with the findings of Portas’ and Grimsey’s reviews. The asphalt of Acorn Road has proved a boiling surface for the question of pedestrianisation. The Newcastle Cycling Campaign, an organisation speaking up for cyclists’ concerns, challenges Portas’ findings : cyclists and walkers, it says, are of vital importance to a healthy high street.

Katja Leyendecker, chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign

Katja Leyendecker, chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign

JesmondLocal met Katja Leyendecker, the chair of the campaign to talk about her views on the future of Acorn Road, Jesmond’s high street as well as the focal point of the campaign’s survey on shopping behaviour. The Newcastle Cycle Campaign suggests different solutions and levels of traffic reduction, but Leyendecker admits that for her “pedestrianization would be the very upper end, the high quality solution.”

When asked if she considered a compromise, the chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign is determined. She favours a shutdown of car traffic in Acorn Road and in her opinion, the survey showed the importance of walkers to the turnover of the street’s businesses. Certainly the data reveals walkers’ purchasing power: they spend £959,546 every month, compared to car drivers, who spend £376,250 in the local shops. Acorn Road draws people within a one-mile radius who use it as a local resource, explains Leyendecker.

“It’s an inverse relationship of money and pedestrian spend for people who walk to Acorn Road, and the space allocated to them to get to the shops, as opposed to people who drive there and spend money and the place that’s allocated to them,” Leyendecker says. “There seems to be a space injustice going on in Acorn Road!”

Do you agree with the plans for Acorn Road? JesmondLocal will be talking to Katja Leyendecker tonight, live on YouTube and JesmondLocal.com, from 7:30pm.

9 thoughts on “Acorn Road “an injustice”, says campaigner”

  1. Jack says:

    I have just watched the video, and where is a single person hampered by the fact there is cars using the road. They aren’t, there is two decent sized paths either side!

    It never gets that busy for most of the day, except teatime (and in the summer and Christmas it is very quiet). It’s fine as it is, and I think this cyclist campaigner should focus her campaign efforts on BIKE LIGHTS as it is only a matter of time before a student is killed or seriously injured as they cycle in the pitch dark with no lights. Too many people think they don’t need cycle lights as they can see where they are going without them but their main purpose is to show you are there, and they give drivers MUCH more warning that you are in the gloom approaching them at a junction for example.

  2. J S Davidson says:

    I live on Acorn Road so for me it would be wonderful, but the effect this would have on the small business person would be dramatic and this scheme would kill the street for them, if more attention was given to Cyclists and in particular students having lights, I personally have more problems with Cyclists than any other car, if pedestrianizing where do you propose the cars Go, even with a parking permit I struggle to park, cars come and go in a space of 30 minutes mostly to visit Waitrose which is a welcome addition to Jesmond, if one thing would help on Acorn Road a speed restriction would be the answer, cars see the lights on green and put the foot on the accelerator to catch the lights, 20 MPH would be good.
    Instead of 2 hours parking 1 hour would be adequate thus accommodating more parking for business.
    The side paths are wide and good on each side.

    The only people to benefit from this stupidity are cyclists.

    JS Davidson

  3. A Cousins says:

    I bet she doesn’t live in Larkspur or Sanderson, and, being young and fit, she has never been knocked off her feet by a cyclist, probably without lights! Think again!! All those cars will go somewhere : where do you think they will go!

  4. Sue says:

    I don’t drive and walk everywhere. Acorn Road is just fab the way it is with parked cars meaning slow moving traffic and keeping if safe. It’s the cyclists we need protecting from

  5. Paul says:

    There is nothing wrong with Acorn Road as it is. Pedestrians will still use the shops but will drivers if cars are banned? Many will not, depriving businesses of up to 30% of their takings based on the figures given. The fact pedestrians spend more is irrelevant to the case for banning cars. People should be honest about their reasons for wanting cars banned from certain areas. If it’s based on political dogma then at least be honest enough to say so.

  6. J S Davidson says:

    I absolutely Agree with all you say, what I find difficult to understand is why do cyclists wish to cycle in the street when they have such a large open space ” The Town Moor ” adjacent is heaven for cyclists away from the cars and from people also.

  7. Richard says:

    The campaigner who was speaking said that there were various possible options and that if something was tried and proved unsuccessful it could be reversed. This measured, reasonable approach is not mirrored in the responses so far. The video shows 2 cyclists in broad daylight. So why all the fuss about cyclists without lights – which in any case is not a planning issue. The main problem with Acorn Road in my view is the large volume of through traffic which – by its very nature – brings NO trade to the Acorn Road shops. There already is a 20 mph restriction in Acorn Road, but the traffic congestion is such that cars could rarely exceed 20 mph even if they wanted. As for why cyclists want to be in Acorn Road – to get to the Acorn Road shops. Cycling on the Town Moor would be a poor substitute!

  8. Bobbie Harding says:

    Katja seems unaware that the previous plan to pedestrianize Acorn Rd foundered; it discriminated against those with impaired mobility who can’t get to shops & facilities without cars and it’s vital that the needs of all residents are considered.
    Jesmond now has £350,000 from money awarded to the Council by Dept of Transport to improve access to shops by walking/cycling and Sustrans is looking at potential options re this, The JRA & Sustrans are holding a Public Meeting Friday 29/11 6pm – 8pm at Newcastle Cricket Club for residents to debate the issues. See you there.

  9. Ian says:

    The video doesnt show anyone being inconvenienced I would agree.

    But how much better a place could this be with some thought. The pavements can get crowded at some times and are too narrow especially for mobility scooters and prams. Personally I dont use Acorn Rd much because its not a place I want to actually spend time on and if I do go I go to a specific shop and come home again. If it were nicer I would go more and browse the other shops but the street is so dreary I dont want to walk along it.

    As regards comments above about ‘where do the cars go’, well some will go elsehwere but other users will come more often; others will choose to do one bigger shop and not 2 little ones etc. Another similar street I know benefitted a great deal from widening pavements even though it made it harder for cars to get there, so things happen that are counter-intuitive perhaps.

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