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A quiet revolution

October 24, 2013

Cycling in Newcastle is about to undergo a quiet revolution.

We have seen an increase of around 30% in cycling in the past three years, but we know we need to do much more to catch up with some other cities in England.

And we are braced to do just that.

We are investing more in promoting cycling and doing more to promote cycling than any other council in the North East, but our ambitions extend way beyond the region.

We aspire to be one the UK’s leading cycle cities.

We have secured over £7m from funding bids in the last year to help improve cycling infrastructure and with council funding we now have a war chest of over £9m.

That doesn’t include the £20m being channelled into promoting sustainable travel options in Tyne and Wear through Go Smarter project which is targeting schools and places of employment and business. Cycling is a huge part of this.

An investment of this magnitude is a game changer for cycling in Newcastle.

We have set ambitious plans to increase the number of people using bikes for short journeys and are committed to enhancing the network of cycle routes and making Newcastle a ‘city fit for cycling’.

Importantly, we are also ensuring that the needs of cyclists (and pedestrians) are specifically considered at the planning stage of every new development in the city. To this end, the city’s highways officers are receiving cycle infrastructure design training.

The multi-million pound renovation of Central Station is a good example. We worked with representatives from the cycling community to develop the whole scheme. As a result, we installed cycle lanes on Neville Street to make east/west movement easier for riders and created a two-way cycle track to the south of St. Mary’s Cathedral.

So far, We have:

  • adopted a cycling strategy drawn up in consultation with the Cycling Campaign and other groups
  • Agreed £1.5m capital funding for Strategic Cycle Routes
  • Installed more than 100 cycle parking spaces in the city centre
  • Put in place cycle route to some secondary schools
  • Offered cycle training to all adults in the city and all schools in the city
  • Secured £1.3m for cycling improvements in Gosforth
  • Held cycle infrastructure design training for the council’s planners and engineers
  • Worked closely cyclists in the city through the Cycling Forum and e-newsletter
  • Welcomed nearly 8,000 riders to the city for the Sky Ride

Next month, we are hosting a ‘Love Cycling, Go Dutch’ event to highlight the benefits of Dutch style infrastructure design. The conference event brings together speakers from the Dutch Embassy, DfT, nationally recognised transport academics and Sustrans as well as representatives from our neighbouring six North East authorities.

There is much more to do if we want to become a trailblazing city for cycling – and we have to consider the needs of other transport users too – but the important thing is that we have the desire, the commitment and the funding to succeed.

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