Saturday 19 January 2013

A white line in the sand

Newcastle. January 2013. And a row has broken out over a proposed white line on the road. I am not flippant here, and certainly the opposite to a melodramatic queen. Just when I thought, they got it, it's gone all awry. By "they" I mean Newcastle Councillors. By "it" I mean cycling and its contributions to society, and that Newcastle was to develop cycle routes.

First there was the city-wide manifesto, then the Cycle Plan. Both pointing directly towards the design and construction of Strategic Cycle Routes for Newcastle. Both signed off by all Councillors. We held a meeting to decide on design criteria, followed by various meetings to firm up on route alignment. All well, all good, all open to the public and general input. Then the first route was designed, more meetings, more discussions, more input sought. Great. The design has now progressed to a formal traffic order consultation, and that's where the undergrowth rustled and the dinosaurs came shuffling out and roared in their ancient language:

"We the undersigned, are totally opposed to the “mandatory with flow” cycle lanes being proposed to be introduced on Welbeck Road. Whilst welcoming the proposed safety measures i.e. zebra crossings etc we do not see why they should be conditional upon having cycle lane introduced. We call upon Newcastle City Council to withdraw this cycling lane proposal forthwith."

This text was presented to City Council by a Councillor, signed by 150 people including nine city Councillors, I gather.

No residential parking was compromised, no reduction in traffic lanes. On closer inspection it appears, they even begrudge us a simple white line, incidentally the lowest form of protection a cyclist can ask for. The delay caused by our helpless democratic system now means that a massive whack of funding is lost. In the process, one Councillor called the cycling community a "fraternity"... again showing how little they know.

I can only imagine dinosaurs hate the idea of cycling. They are simply not familiar with it.

In Germany people wear hiviz when they are cycling on the road (not that that happens on many occasions due to the extensive network of inner city and suburban lanes and paths) - maybe these nine anti-cycle-lane Councillors are proactive, have chipped in and are now busy printing these vests to be handed out to cyclists on Welbeck Road "cycle lane missing"... they should certainly add "due to parochial politics".

Cycle SPACE missing!