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Newcastle shopkeeper who opposed measures promoting cycling changes mind after footfall goes up

Steve Robson features in Sustrans Bike Life video highlighting how promoting bikes benefits businesses

A shopkeeper in Newcastle upon Tyne who was once a vocal opponent of plans to get more people cycling because he believed it would affect his business is now in favour of such measures after the removal of parking spaces resulted in more people visiting his hardware store.

His about-turn has been highlighted by some supporters of the planned Cycle Superhighway 9 in west London after Conservative councillors claimed it would lead to increased air pollution and cause shops and shops and businesses to close.

> Tories launch campaign against 'bike motorway' in West London

A video posted on Twitter yesterday of the councillors, who sit on Labour-controlled Hounslow Council, holding a protest outside a church on Chiswick High Road met with derision on social media when it transpired that they could not be heard above the noise of motor traffic.

Evidence from schemes aimed at promoting cycling – including elsewhere in London, such as the Mini Holland borough of Waltham Forest – is that where dedicated infrastructure is built, it results not only in releasing pent-up demand for somewhere safe to ride a bike, but also has a positive impact on the takings of local businesses.

> Traffic halved and no collisions – the impact of Walthamstow Mini Holland

As Carlton Reid reports on BikeBiz, Steve Robson, who owns the Acorn Hardware shop on Acorn Road in the Newcastle suburb of Jesmond, is now in favour of measures aimed at encouraging more people to walk or cycle.

Robson, who said that plans unveiled by Newcastle City Council in 2014 to take away parking spaces as part of its Cycle City Ambition project would be “devastating for business” and launched a petition against the proposals, now features in a Sustrans video that highlights the charity’s Bike Life project.

The Bike Life 2017 report published last week by Sustrans found that three quarters of the 7,700 respondents to its survey of residents of seven cities in the UK backed segregated infrastructure, and two thirds said they would cycle more of protected routes were available to them.

> People in cities want segregated space for cycling

In the Sustrans video, Robson said: "Two years ago the council decided to change the road from a two-way to a one-way system with the loss of up to 20 car parking spaces. As an independent retailer I wasn't too happy with this.

"However, since the changes have been made Acorn Road has become more vibrant with the increase in pedestrians and cyclists. Now with more bike racks we get more cyclists coming into the store,” he added.

Simon has been news editor at since 2009, reporting on 10 editions and counting of pro cycling’s biggest races such as the Tour de France, stories on issues including infrastructure and campaigning, and interviewing some of the biggest names in cycling. A law and languages graduate, published translator and former retail analyst, his background has proved invaluable in reporting on issues as diverse as cycling-related court cases, anti-doping investigations, and the bike industry. He splits his time between London and Cambridge, and loves taking his miniature schnauzer Elodie on adventures in the basket of her Elephant Bike.

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