Once in a lifetime chance to fix this

As the body responsible for quality assurance of many walking and cycling transport schemes, Sustrans note with disappointment the steady stream of critical anonymous letters appearing in this newspaper.

Across the north east, construction projects are under way which represent the first serious attempt to design roads that separate bikes from fast traffic since the 1940s.

Inevitably this means that the public will be confronted with changes that appear unfamiliar, but this does not make them unsafe”.

Isolated examples of cycle track designs next to classified roads have been on the ground in Tyne and Wear for the last 70 years.

Highway engineers are at last being given the resources to deal with busy roads close to our town and city centres.

North Tyneside Council’’s work over the last 24 months has been exemplary, with good engineering leading to more funding for the borough.

Newcastle is attracting tens of millions of pounds of investment with ambitious plans for the city centre.

One reaction to the criticism displayed in this paper would be for engineers to again begin to shy away from building in locations near where people live and need to travel.

At worst we will see progress that could quite quickly improve routes to all of our schools and town centres grind to a halt.

We know that public opinion overwhelmingly favours safe streets, lower traffic speeds and separation of heavy traffic from vulnerable road users.

Whilst everyone has the right to be consulted on changes, there comes a point where observing good design standards will override some opinions no matter how heartfelt.

At Westminister there is support for serious investment in active travel driven by cross-party awareness of the financial cost of poor public health and inactivity.

Some of our schools don’t even have proper pedestrian facilities outside their gates let alone bicycle tracks.

With a little ambition, plus consistent commitment to quality and delivery, we have a once in a lifetime opportunity to fix this.

Tom Bailey

North East Network Manager