A number of ‘Active Travel’ schemes will appear in our local area in the year ahead. But what is ‘Active Travel’ anyway – and how might it affect you?
I often tell people that there are two halves to the role of a local councillor – case work and committee work. Some councillors focus on one or the other. I try to give an equal amount of time to both. In the case of Active Travel it overlaps both anyway. On the case work side Active Travel is going to solve some ward-level problems that have been bugging residents for a long time. On the committee side, Active Travel involves policies that will better integrate our ward with the rest of the borough. I’ll try to explain how…
Active Travel is a national initiative, supported by the government, local councils and other partners to try to achieve four aims all at the same time:
- Improve public health
- Reduce road congestion
- Make travel safer
- Produce less pollution
Active Travel is based on research that shows that 59% of all car journeys are less than 5 miles. It works on the assumption that a lot of these journeys could be made by walking or cycling instead, and tries to encourage this. It also recognises that this needs investment, to make walking and cycling routes safer and more attractive. As a council we successfully bid for several million pounds from the government’s Active Travel Fund to pay for a range of upgrades in North Tyneside, some of which will be happening on a street near you. I also need to be clear, because our local Conservatives have suggested otherwise, this money cannot be spent on general road repairs. It has to be spent on approved bona fide Active Travel schemes.
The major works in Preston ward are proposed to be along Preston Road and Preston Avenue. You may have seen and commented on some early plans last year. These have now been updated and will come back out for final consultation shortly. I will share the links with you when they do. Some interesting elements of the scheme I noted from the preview I received included:
- Designated cycle lanes down most of the length of Preston Road
- Improved footpaths around Christ Church at the south end of Preston Road and along Albion Road towards Kiki’s Kabin.
- Making the zebra crossing over Trevor Terrace raised, which would give greater priority to pedestrians, making the route safer for parents walking kids to school.
- Also, a new Zebra crossing over Preston Road near the junction with Preston Avenue
- Designated cycle lanes down a long section of Preston Avenue
- Removing the roundabout at the junction with Front Street / The Wynd to make a T-Junction, with a new zebra crossing.
- Some changes in road layout at the north end of Preston Road approaching the roundabout with Beach Road, in order to improve safety at this busy junction where cars, cyclists and pedestrians (mainly school children walking to-from John Spence) interact.
I’ve been pleased to have been able to take your views as residents into the various Active Travel meetings I’ve been in. I can assure you that your views were listened to and that I have seen changes being made in response to the feedback given.
Ultimately, my hope is that as the proposals move from vision to reality many more residents will think twice about making short journeys by car and might join in the Active Travel revolution themselves. If that happens we can look forward to a healthier, cleaner, quieter and safer community.