On Monday evening, three SPACE for Gosforth members met Councillor Henry Gallagher (who represents East Gosforth Ward) at Station Road. The meeting was organised at very short notice due to safety concerns raised by SPACE members relating to proposals for Station Road. A member of the infrastructure team from local cycling campaign group Newcycling was also able to attend to discuss issues relating to cycling.
SPACE members have concerns about these proposals however because Station Road, and its junction at Haddricks Mill Roundabout, are also well known in Gosforth as an accident blackspot. Concerns SPACE members have raised about this location include cars driving through the pedestrian crossing at Haddricks Mill without noticing pedestrians, concerns about cars speeding up Station Road, and cars driving and parking on the pavement.
This area of Gosforth has one of the worst safety records in Newcastle. The biggest safety problems are associated with the roundabouts at Haddricks Mill. Major alterations are expected here soon and SPACE wants to see substantial safety improvements provided for pedestrians, cyclists and motorists. However, Station Road also has a substantial safety problem throughout its full length and we also want to see measures taken to improve safety along this very important key route. We certainly do not want to see anything done which will make the situation worse.
The proposals, which are currently out for consultation (closing date 3 February 2016) include a plan to create five additional car parking spaces on the south side of Station Road. According to this research, adding parking to a major road almost doubles the risk factor for cyclists. On this basis this proposal is likely to increase the number of casualties. On Station Road, because of the gradient and the existing poor safety record, this would be particularly dangerous.
While the research is specific to cyclists the increased risk will be felt by all road users. By reducing visibility, the parking is likely to make the street more hazardous for pedestrians to cross and it will also impact sight-lines for cars wishing to turn out of Sandringham Road.
SPACE is keen to support local businesses however, not least as the availability of good local shops helps people to walk or cycle, rather than having to drive. Safe access and a pleasant shopping environment are also key factors in a business’ success and case studies show that business can benefit by adding protected cycle lanes or improving conditions for pedestrians, even when doing so requires the removal of parking spaces or limiting access for vehicles.
We also know that businesses can do well in this location without the proposed additional spaces, including local bike shop, M. Steel Cycles, which has been trading since 1894 and on Station Road since 1984.
When we met with Cllr Gallagher, he explained the background to the proposal and the concerns of the local traders, and we discussed with him alternatives which we hope will go some way to helping out local traders in such tough times.
Following the meeting Cllr Gallagher posted the SPACE for Gosforth Facebook page:
“I think we had a very positive meeting tonight. I explained the needs of the traders and Bill, Liz, Rupert and Scot went through the issues that can be created by this type of design. Me and my fellow East Gosforth councillors are arranging a meeting with council officers after the close of the consultation. We will discuss the objections with them and look at whether a strategic solution involving the Haddricks Mill junction is possible. I am also going to speak to some of the traders and sort out a chat between a couple of the SPACE people and them.”
This we hope will result in tangible ideas that will benefit the local businesses, including by providing safe access for customers who travel on foot or by bike, as well as discussing suitable locations for parking.
Because of the consultation process though, we will only be able to have this discussion if the current proposals are rejected. It would be good if people could write in to Newcastle Council opposing the proposal. Key points are:
- the increased safety risks for pedestrians and cyclists caused by providing on-street parking on Station Road, which is already an accident black-spot;
- this will prevent future cycling and safety improvements being carried out on this key route to address the existing issues; and
- the proposal is contrary council policy.
SPACE would like to thank Cllr Gallagher and Newcycling for their time – and for responding to our members’ concerns by attending the meeting on a cold winter’s night at such short notice.
The consultation website is: https://letstalknewcastle.co.uk/surveys/info/328