A council in North East England has proposed a major project to build protected cycle lanes along a busy A-road to bring "enormous benefits for the community". However, some unimpressed locals have spoken out about the infrastructure — specifically being built with the aim of "reducing congestion and improving air quality" by encouraging residents to replace car journeys with active travel ones — which they claim will cause "chaos", "gridlock", and would be "sacrilege" if it involves taking up grass verges to make space.
North Tyneside Council has proposed the active travel scheme for the A192 Preston Road North in North Shields, hoping to provide a one-way cycle lane on either side of the busy route that connects North Shields town centre to the even busier A1058 to the north, the main route to Newcastle upon Tyne.
With several schools in the area, most notably John Spence Community High School at the roundabout where Preston Road North joins the A1058, the council is keen to "provide a safe link for cyclists, including schoolchildren, between the town centre and the A1058 Coast Road", proposals also including a crossing upgrade outside the school, a new toucan crossing, and changes to junctions.
In short, as one local Lorraine Scott told the ChronicleLive website: "It would work for me, I cycle with the kids for school but they are too young for the road. I don't feel safe on the road, it would totally suit me. I wouldn't go on the road here if the path was put in, the road gets quite busy, it would be perfect."
Work is expected to begin in the spring, Paul Watson the head of highways at the council explaining the long-term aim is to "encourage more people to switch from cars to sustainable modes of travel and deliver many benefits for both residents and the environment".
And while he accepts in the short-term there will be "some disruption" as the route is constructed and changes made, the long-term benefits of "promoting active travel, reducing congestion, and improving air quality" will, he says, provide "enormous benefits".
"Most of the new cycle lanes will use the existing road space and be built out from the kerbside, with efforts to retain as much grass as possible. While one stretch of grass will need to be removed, we are preserving a wider grass verge along the same section of road to minimise the impact. Junction designs have been carefully considered to ensure safety for both cyclists and motorists, maintaining smooth navigation," he said.
However, the mood of some residents expressing their views in the local press has not been so positive, 60-year-old Gillian Ferguson who lives on a street just off Preston Road North claiming "it would be sacrilege to take up the grass verges, they are the only green spaces we have got here and trying to get parked here is crazy, it's madness."
"We don't need one, for how many cyclists I have seen," she added, before husband Neville said it is "disproportionate for the number of people that will use it and this part is bad enough without a cycle track, by 3.30 because of the school, you can't get up or down the road".
The claims did not seem to consider the council's confidence the scheme, by providing a safe and accessible route for active travel, would encourage people out of cars and onto bikes, freeing up road space and reducing congestion.
Likewise, another local, Derek Miller, claimed it would cause "absolute chaos".
"It is bad enough getting down here as it is and the traffic that backs up towards the school. It is going to create a gridlock in Preston Village because people are going to start going around a different way," he said.
The council disputes the idea the cycle lane will increase congestion and says the focus is on creating and "improving sustainable travel links between the A1058 Coast/Beach Road and North Shields town centre [...] It forms part of the strategic network of cycle routes throughout North Tyneside."
"It also complements and ties into wider regeneration plans for North Shields and supports the local authority's ambition to work towards the borough being carbon net-zero by 2030," information on the local authority's website states.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.