The Blue House and Jesmond Dene Road Working group met on Monday 13th March. The Agenda for the seventh meeting included:
- Feedback from group members
- Principal options for the Blue House Junction
- Proposals for Jesmond Dene Road and Ilford Road
- Construction materials for new paths on the Town Moor
The notes from the meeting have been uploaded to the working group’s website, the main points of which are summarised below along with some additional context.
If you have any further thoughts, comments or questions about Blue House or Jesmond Dene Road it’s not too late to say. You can add comments to this article or contact us via the SPACE for Gosforth Facebook page, Twitter or Email.
The two options presented for the Blue House junction were both roundabouts, the main difference between them being the number of vehicle lanes. The larger roundabout with three vehicle lanes would require the demolition of the Blue House and removal of a small number of trees within its garden. Trees marked in red on the plans are already scheduled for removal because they are dead or dying.
The Council is no longer considering the turbo-roundabout option proposed for discussion at previous meetings.
These are the two options.
In addition to the demolition of the Blue House itself, the three lane roundabout would also have a higher capacity for motor vehicles and would, as a result, induce additional traffic. For anyone using the junction in a car this wouldn’t necessarily mean the traffic is any better and in fact, from a safety perspective, it could be worse because the roundabout geometry would not be as effective in slowing traffic out of peak hours. Nor would it be certain to have any economic impact according to a study of road schemes by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.
In one of our earliest posts on the Blue House roundabout we showed how traffic has recently reduced along routes leading to the Blue House roundabout. We’ve also looked at some of the organisations that were intended to benefit from higher vehicle capacity and found many of them committed to reducing how much they travel.
- Newcastle University has a Sustainable Campus Travel initiative which has reduced the number of staff single occupancy car journeys to the University between 2004 and 2014 from 40% to 16%.
- The Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust has published a document called ‘Our Commitment to a Sustainable Future‘, which sets out that ‘the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, as the largest employer in the city region, has a key role to play in reducing carbon emissions and supporting local people to adapt to climate change.‘
- HMRC, a major employer at the Longbenton ‘Ministry’ site in its HMRC and VOA Sustainability Report 2015 to 2016 says that ‘Between 2010 and 2016, we took almost 18,000 fewer domestic flights, saw a 22% shift in travel from road to rail, and replaced face-to-face meetings with more than one and a quarter million audio conference calls.‘
Work still to be completed includes a detailed modelling of likely traffic flow and the consideration of bus priority measures. Both will be required before a final design can be proposed.
While there are already a large number of bus services running north-south across the junction (See Blue House Measures of Success Part 2 | People Movement) there are no bus services running down Grandstand Road and onwards to Haddricks Mill.
WALKING AND CYCLING PATHS
For both roundabout options the walking and cycling routes are planned to be separate from each other and both separate from the traffic as is best practice on a busy road.
It is important that walking, cycling and public transport are attractive travel options to avoid the alternative scenario where a much larger roundabout would be required.
Discussion centred around whether the new paths should be for walking with the current paths retained for cycling or the other way round. Considerations include:
- Access to/from bus stops from the walking path for people walking.
- The need for lighting and how to make sure people feel safe when using the paths at night.
- Whether the cycling (or walking path) is shared use or dedicated.
- Ensuring the cycling paths are suitable for families and children as well as being attractive for faster cyclists so they will choose to use them in preference to the road.
- Whether any new paths are located within the Moor or between the trees and, if the latter, will there be an issue with leaf fall.
- Construction material and how to avoid damage to existing trees. The Council shared details for a low-maintenance porous paving product made from recycled tyres that could be laid on top of the existing surface.
- Quality of the surface and how to place signs and lampposts.
- Opportunities to alleviate flooding risks.
A further option, not discussed at the meeting, would be to reallocate existing road space for walking / cycling paths.
The following pictures show where the new paths would go if these plans are implemented. Please click on any of the images if you want to see a larger version.
Coming from Gosforth the path would go alongside the edge of the Little Moor. The picture on the left is taken facing north towards Gosforth.
When the path gets to Blue House it would cut across the corner with a link to the proposed new road crossing through an existing gap between the trees.
Looking from Jesmond Dene Road, this shows the gap in the trees where the path from Gosforth would lead to the crossing over Jesmond Dene Road.
Once over Jesmond Dene Road the path would continue south on the other side of the trees from the Great North Road.
Going east towards Haddricks Mill Road and Jesmond the path would go along the wide avenue between the trees along to Ilford Road.
Going west, the path would go behind the Blue House and then along Grandstand Road routed between the trees.
The road crossings are unchanged from previous proposals. Members of the working group have previously asked the Council to consider:
- Making the new two-phase crossing on Jesmond Dene Road single phase so the road can be crossed in one go rather than having to wait in the middle of the traffic.
- Installing a crossing on Grandstand Road so people have safe access to the Town Moor and its walking paths.
JESMOND DENE ROAD and ILFORD ROAD
The design for Jesmond Dene Road had been updated following feedback from the previous working group meeting. The main changes are:
- A new Toucan crossing next to Friday Field’s cut where Jesmond Dene Road meets Haddricks Mill Road to allow residents of Beatty Avenue and Sturdee Gardens to cross safely to Jesmond Dene and to the cut through to Jesmond.
- Traffic-free two-way cycle lanes on the west side of Ilford Road and on the north side of Jesmond Dene Road between Moorfield and Haddricks Mill Road, but with no changes to Moorfield itself.
- A four way junction (possibly a mini-roundabout) between Moorfield and Ilford Road to slow traffic travelling north – south.
- Narrowing Moorfield on the section immediately west of Ilford Road to slow traffic approaching the same junction from the west.
- The traffic lights where Moorfield meets Jesmond Dene Road have been moved closer to Moorfield.
This latest iteration does not address wider safety issues caused by high volumes of through traffic using Moorfield and Ilford Road, including on Moorfield east where, based on these plans, children over 11 who wanted to cycle would have to use the road with this traffic. Previous speed measurements on Ilford Road, from 2014 suggests that 85% of drivers exceed the 20mph speed limit on this road and that during morning rush hour / school drop off there is one vehicle roughly every 14 seconds. Details for other local streets including Moorfield can be found on our blog Important dates for East Gosforth.
While feedback was provided by a number of groups, the main point of discussion was the survey carried out by Jesmond Residents Association. This was answered by 243 people and asked what would enable you to make journeys walking, cycling or via public transport rather than by car.
The top results were:
|Smarter, integrated ticketing on public transport||43.8%|
|More frequent and reliable bus services||39.8%|
|Safe and convenient cycling routes||37.4%|
|Safe and convenient walking routes||35.2%|
|Real-time bus information||35.9%|
These add weight to the changes already discussed to make walking and cycling safer and more convenient, and to retain bus priority measures such as the bus lanes on the Great North Road.
These results are also broadly the same as those obtained in the national British social attitudes survey: 2013 which recorded that:
- a third ( 33%) said that they could just as easily catch the bus for many of the journeys of less than two miles they now travelled by car,
- 37% said they could just as easily cycle (if they had a bike) and
- 40% of people agreed that they could just as easily walk.
It is also clear from the British Social Attitudes survey that fear of traffic is a major barrier to people taking up cycling. It found that 61% of all respondents felt it is too dangerous for them to cycle on the roads including 69% of women and 76% of those aged 65 and over.
The Jesmond Residents’ survey also asked what measures would people support to promote walking, cycling or public transport. The following measures were supported by a majority of those who responded.
|Safe cycling routes including to and from schools||71.5%|
|Walking groups for school children||59.6%|
|Restricting drop off and pick up outside schools||57.4%|
|Curbing rat runs along residential streets||55.0%|
|More park and ride schemes||52.5%|
|Default 20mpg on most streets||51.6%|
The next meeting of the Working Group is scheduled for the end of April, by which time the Council should have completed its vehicle modelling and have created some more detailed plans for Blue House and Jesmond Dene Road.
If you have any further thoughts, comments or questions about Blue House or Jesmond Dene Road it’s not too late to say. You can add comments to this article or contact us via Facebook, Twitter or Email.