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“Hare-brained” segregated bike path will “prioritise a small handful of cyclists over thousands of commuters” and increase collisions, councillors claim

The local authority and residents, however, say the seafront active travel route will increase safety, improve air quality, and boost tourism

A new permanent two-way, segregated active travel route along the seafront in North Tyneside has been branded “disastrous” by local Conservative councillors, who claim the coastal path will lead to an increase in congestion and collisions, and “prioritise a small handful of cyclists over thousands of commuters”.

However, North Tyneside Council and supporters of the project say the protected walking and cycling route will create a “safe space” for families riding bikes, as well as improving air quality, boosting tourism, and “improving people’s enjoyment of an already beautiful space”.

Construction work on the first phase of the active travel “safe space”, which will stretch for eight kilometres along the seafront between the North Shields Fish Quay and St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay, is set to begin next week, making permanent a popular pop-up scheme that was implemented in 2020 as part of social distancing measures.

North Tyneside Council say the revised scheme, which is expected to be finished by 2025, will provide “separate space for cyclists and other users of sustainable travel, while maintaining a two-way route along the seafront” for motor traffic, with the exception of a new 600-metre-long one-way system in Tynemouth.

The proposals, which have been financed by the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund and walking and cycling charity Sustrans, also include the introduction of various road safety measures and a 20mph speed limit.

A six-week public consultation carried out by the council, starting in October 2021, found that of the 11,000 comments made, 6,965 were in favour of the proposals, while 68 percent of the 1,500 respondents believed that they would travel more sustainably if the scheme was permanently implemented.

> Tory activist criticised for “anti-cyclist” and “jingoistic” opposition to new roundabout

However, two Conservative councillors in Tynemouth hit out at the scheme in a recent meeting of North Tyneside Council, claiming it will cause chaos, disruption, and pollution “along our beautiful coastline”, Chronicle Live reports.

Speaking on behalf of councillor Christopher Johnston and himself, Tory councillor Lewis Bartoli said: “If the disastrous cycle scheme at Rake Lane has taught us anything, it is that prioritising a small handful of cyclists over thousands of commuters causes nothing but disruption and congestion and increases in accidents.

“I accept that the scheme is of high quality, but it will effectively turn Tynemouth into a one-way system and the path is not even continuous with a huge gap in the middle at Cullercoats.

“This hare-brained scheme will cause congestion, inconvenience, pollution, and chaos along our beautiful coastline.”

Bartoli also accused the Labour-controlled council of “spending other people’s money”, despite the funding being supplied by the government’s Active Travel Fund, and claimed that the original temporary scheme installed during the pandemic was unpopular, despite the results of the public consultation.

> Protected cycle lane on busy city road could “unintentionally deliver a more dangerous environment” by creating rat runs, councillor warns

Responding to Bartoli’s criticism, Sandra Graham, the local authority’s cabinet member for climate emergency, said she was “rather surprised that Councillor Bartoli goes against his own government’s funding pots and priorities to promote more active forms of travel and against their own motion last month. In September, there was a motion for enhanced road safety across the borough, and here is a project that will help to achieve this.”

She continued: “The scheme coupled with raised crossings and other measures with a 20mph zone along the seafront will in fact make the seafront safer for all, making it a more pleasant place to be and bring greater tourism and visitors to North Tyneside.

“Road safety will be improved giving people space to walk and cycle and reducing speeds whilst giving people the confidence to take up and develop their cycling skills in a lovely setting with space for everyone.

“This will provide a very high-quality look to the public realm and it doesn’t cost council taxpayers one penny – what’s not to like?”

The scheme was also praised by Whitley Bay GP Sian Williams, one of the 50 local doctors and nurses who called on the council in February to press ahead with the project on health and environmental grounds.

“I’m really pleased to see the cycle lane start to become a reality,” Dr Williams said.

“I hope it will provide a safe space to encourage more cyclists of all ages as happened with the temporary cycleway when more children and families were out on their wheels.

“I hope that the traffic calming measures will make those walking or cycling feel safer as well as improve air quality for everyone and overall improve people’s enjoyment of an already beautiful place.”

Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.

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32 comments

Avatar
John Hgl | 9 months ago
3 likes

When cycle routes are safe people will use them. Some routes, like Portsmouth are just dangerous. I messaged the council a year ago with no response. Messaged Sustrans and was told, not our problem, contact the council.
I found it safer to use the roads than the cycle route.

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Bucks Cycle Cammer replied to John Hgl | 9 months ago
0 likes

Quote:

Bartoli also accused the Labour-controlled council of “spending other people’s money”, despite the funding being supplied by the government’s Active Travel Fund

Whose money do councils normally spend?

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Lozcan | 9 months ago
2 likes

At least all the Tories will be dead soon.

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hutchdaddy | 9 months ago
11 likes

Tory councillor talks out of his arse again. That should be your headline.

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Moist von Lipwig | 9 months ago
16 likes

This is local to me.

The road in question is not a commuting route, its a destination. Its just a long destination.  If you want to get from North Shields or Tynemouth to Whitley Bay theres a more direct route just inland - the A193.  Its ammusing that some of the comments to the article state that this is the only alternative they'll have if the coast is busy - becuse having 2 direct options for vehicles obviously isn't enough...   I would only go this way from Whitley if I happened to be on the east side of whitley - you go past the A193 to get to this road from the west.  In Tynemouth the two roads start at the same place at the top of front street.

Commuting traffic is not huge making the full journey from one end to the other  - at  every town along it there is a spur road to the A1058 to get to Newcastle. The bulk of the traffic here is on a weekend from people either coming to the coast or just 'going for a drive' to look at the coast. (Surely traffic jams would be a bonus for them as they'll have more time to stare out of the window).  ITs nose to tail most weekends already.  The scheme is actually only taking a small amount of road space - and in the area its going down to one lane theres an alternative road around it to the North end of Tynemouth.  

Any gripes about this is just the usual 'but cars'.

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brooksby replied to Moist von Lipwig | 9 months ago
3 likes

Thanks for the local knowledge  1

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JohnP_SM7 replied to Moist von Lipwig | 9 months ago
2 likes

100% agreed!  I grew-up in Whitley Bay, and while I haven't lived there for a long time I too know the area well.  This cycle path looks like an excellent scheme.

It seems to me that these two councillors were possibly having a quiet snooze in the council meeting and were rudely awakened by hearing the word "bicycle",  and responded by trotting-out their well-worn, and totally irrelevant,  clichés...

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muhasib | 9 months ago
8 likes

"I accept that the scheme is of high quality"

"This hare brained scheme"

If he can disagree with himself in the same article then his party is probably in even worse disunity than I had hoped for.

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lonpfrb | 9 months ago
15 likes

In Finland it is the law to build segregated active travel lanes along roads because the parliament saw the worsening public health data and decided for active travel integrated to planning.
Decades later, it's safe to travel actively for everyone.
Hyvää Suomi!

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Jakrayan replied to lonpfrb | 9 months ago
11 likes

A (Swedish) friend of mine was, until recently, working in Turku, Finland. He, and others, thought it was quite normal to commute to work by bike, even in the winter when it was usually well below zero, he'd often brush the snow off his saddle at the end of a day's work and crack on. He'd also make me green with envy when he posted pictures of the bike lanes out there, often well away from roads and with their own bridges and underpasses. 

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Accessibility f... | 9 months ago
20 likes

Once, just once, I'd like to see a council support such schemes by saying "oh just fuck right off you miserable car addicted bastards.  Fuck off into the sea and don't come back".

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Dnnnnnn replied to Accessibility for all | 9 months ago
13 likes

Have you thought about standing for office?

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andystow replied to Accessibility for all | 9 months ago
6 likes

I would like to subscribe to your newsletter.

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Majority Road User replied to Accessibility for all | 8 months ago
0 likes

For once I'd like to see councils reject schemes supporting tiny minority pompous self important bigoted individuals and do what they are paid to do - look after the vast majority of residents who just happen to own cars. It's time these entitled lycra f**kwits realise they are in the minority and shut the f**k up.

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perce replied to Majority Road User | 8 months ago
2 likes

I've often wondered why Lisa Simpson chose a baritone sax.

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Rendel Harris replied to perce | 8 months ago
3 likes

perce wrote:

I've often wondered why Lisa Simpson chose a baritone sax.

Oddly she started with an alto given to her by "Bleeding Gums" Murphy, but for reasons never explained it later became a baritone. Bit of a mystery, that.

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Jippily | 9 months ago
11 likes

The Dutch-style roundabout at Rake Lane that they're trying to use as a reason this shouldn't go ahead is great. It's so much easier to get across as a pedestrian, and the talk of increases to congestion and injuries is clearly nonsense.

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chrisonabike replied to Jippily | 9 months ago
1 like

Ah yes - haven't been.  I read the various critiques of the proposed Rake Lane roundabout designs (North Tyneside Living Streets, Ranty Highwayman) beforehand.  While I'm not sure they've been completely addressed it actually looks pretty good?

It's not really much like a standard Dutch design (urban style mostly here, and non-urban / non-cycling priority design here).  That's because of the the massive size.  That makes speed on entry / exit a potential issue (and can complicate sight lines etc.)

However they seem to have slightly tightened some of the entry angles to reduce speed and the roundabout / entries are a single lane which also should help.

Before

After

I guess it's all about the speed and number of vehicles.  If the speed entering or exiting hasn't been sufficiently addressed (which is harder with a large radius) then it won't be as safe or pleasant.  Too many vehicles and it's the wrong design entirely!

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Moist von Lipwig replied to chrisonabike | 9 months ago
7 likes

Local here.

The user experience of the roundabout is mixed, drivers just don't pay attention, entering the roundabout they'll more often than not stop for pedestrians (but not always) presumably because the zebra is a recognised marking, but I'd say 8/10 times if you;re on a bike then you;re invisible. Its partially down to the arrangment that you;re not actualy on the rbt but are crossing it and theres no perpendicular lead in to the crossing point - its an immediate right turn from the cycle track.  I always signal if I'm crossing but its not often I can juts carry on regardless safe in the knowledge any car exiting the rbt is going to stop.   Primarily though its down to drivers just not looking - on entry to the rbt at the point they should be looking for you they are target fixated on the circulatory traffic and will just carry on regardless and stop on the crossing.

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chrisonabike replied to Moist von Lipwig | 9 months ago
1 like

Thanks for info!

We have one that was painted a bit like a Dutch roundabout e.g. red parts - but it's rather wide and has no cycling infra on it at all! (Couple of cycle lanes lead up to it including one that traps you...)

I'm wary of designs which require others to get it right for me to be safe.  I think the standard Dutch design tries to reduce that dependence by e.g. slowing the dangerous mode (motor vehicles), ensuring parties have best possible sight lines and cross at right-angles, having only one thing to deal with at a time etc.

OTOH it still sets the expectation that the cars will stop for you.  I think that's why David Hembrow argues for a marginally less convenient design. (Image on right below.) That gives priority to the drivers at the crossing point - or seen the other way doesn't lead cyclists to expect drivers to stop.

Now this isn't a popular opinion in NL!   Cyclist expect to get priority except outside of built-up areas in NL.

But maybe would make sense as a starting point for the UK - where drivers aren't used to looking for cyclists and certainhly not giving way? (And of course if there are too many vehicles this kind of roundabout is not appropriate for cycling anyway - often the case in the UK...That would require some other arrangement.)

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Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
13 likes

Quote:

Bartoli also accused the Labour-controlled council of “spending other people’s money”

As opposed to other councils where all spending comes out of councillors' own pockets?

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muhasib replied to Rendel Harris | 9 months ago
4 likes

Ironic of Cllr Bartoli to use that phraseology given the following inconvenient article:

https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/politics/boris-johnson-seen-campaigning-to...

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dubwise | 9 months ago
1 like

You would have thought that with a surname of Bartoli, he would know better.

Shaming the name of Gino and Michele.

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hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
10 likes

I don't quite understand the logic involved. Pedestrians are more likely to be hit by drivers than cyclists, so surely increasing the number of cyclists and reducing the number of drivers will decrease the number of collisions and certainly the seriousness of any collisions.

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the little onion replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
18 likes

Don't bring logic into a discussion based on prejudice

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qwerty360 replied to hawkinspeter | 9 months ago
3 likes

Seriousness is a better argument.

 

There is evidence that cyclists hit Peds at similar rates to cars.

It's just that recorded incidents are 25% lower. Because leaving dirt from wheel on trousers isn't recorded, while needing a concussion check after being knocked down is... (Basically bottom level of severity for both cars and bikes)

 

Of course we should focus on incidents involving harm...

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marmotte27 | 9 months ago
14 likes

Harebrained Conservative councillors prioritise polluting and dangerous motorists who shouldn't be commuting anywhere near the seafront anyway.

 

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gazza_d replied to marmotte27 | 9 months ago
12 likes

The scheme is popular with a majority. Tories only like democracy when it's in their favour.

A six-week public consultation conducted by the local authority, starting in October 2021, recorded that out of more than 11,000 comments made, 6,965 were in favour. The consultation also recorded that 68% of the 1,500 respondents believed they would travel more sustainably if the scheme was permanently implemented.

I've used the Rake Lane roundabout which is Dutch style and it's great for walking and cycling. As a driver it's also fine but you need to pay attention. I suspect the Tory councillors are rubbish drivers.

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HoarseMann replied to gazza_d | 9 months ago
4 likes

gazza_dout wrote:

of more than 11,000 comments made, 6,965 were in favour.

Given there's a 'small minority of cyclists', to get those sort of numbers in favour of the scheme is quite impressive.

It got me thinking, it's really hard to get these schemes approved if it relies on a popularity vote. The whole point of these schemes is to encourage people to change their behaviour and, in general, people don't like change.

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jpj84 replied to marmotte27 | 9 months ago
1 like

The metro runs up along the coast that way; why on earth would anyone choose to drive into the city centre instead?

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