North Tyneside Council is inviting the public to share their views on a permanent, segregated, two-way, safe space along the seafront between the North Shields Fish Quay and St Mary’s Lighthouse in Whitley Bay for people using sustainable and active forms of travel such as cycling.
A six-week consultation hosted by the Council will be taking place between September 13 and October 24 and will aim to gather feedback from the public about the proposed plans for the new route before any action is formally taken.
In summer 2020 the council implemented a pop-up cycle lane which was well received by many, while also presenting some challenges.
The extensive feedback received, including as part of the recent Our North Tyneside Plan consultation, has allowed the council to develop a proposed permanent scheme that seeks to resolve all of the identified issues.
As a result, the proposed scheme will maintain two-way traffic flow along the coast between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth, with some short sections of proposed localised diversions, and the proposals also include improving safety along the road by introducing a 20mph limit and various supporting traffic safety measures.
Last year campaigners urged the Council to reinstate the cycling route after it was scrapped during the second November lockdown due to a steep decrease in footfall of about 64 per cent.
However, local doctors and health professionals urged the council to reinstate the route and cited the ability of cycling route to tackle obesity and poor air quality.
The council has worked closely with coastal emergency services to address and resolve some of the design elements that created challenges for search and rescue operations with the previous pop-up scheme that was implemented in 2020 due to a new need for social distancing measures during the Covid pandemic.
The proposed scheme will be largely funded by the Department for Transport’s Active Travel Fund (ATF), subject to approval of a bid for £3.5million, alongside contributions from walking and cycling charity Sustrans and the council.
The route is expected to be operational by summer 2022.
It will be a major step forward for the Elected Labour Party Mayor Norma Redfearn CBE and her Cabinet’s pledge to create a cleaner, greener borough as part of its declaration of a climate emergency.
The council aims to cut the carbon footprint of North Tyneside by 50% by 2023 and to become carbon-neutral by 2050 in order to address the ongoing climate crisis.
Creating separate space for people of all ages to enjoy safely on forms of sustainable and active transport, such as bikes, skateboards and scooters, along North Tyneside’s beautiful coastline will also further increase its appeal to visitors, supporting the local economy.
The current shared use path will revert to a dedicated pedestrian footpath.
The scheme seeks to address conflicts between pedestrians and cyclists on the shared footpath and also conflicts between on-road cyclists and drivers along the seafront by creating segregated safe space for all.
The proposals also support the council’s commitment to encourage more people to take up active travel and adopt a healthier lifestyle.
The scheme will make it easier, safer, and more environmentally sustainable for people to access popular attractions like St Mary’s Lighthouse, Spanish City and Tynemouth Priory as well as the award-winning beaches and open spaces and support local businesses as part of the recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic in our local community.
The new route will enhance the existing coastal section of the National Cycle Route 1 and will improve access from other parts of the borough.
The route will serve local schools and places of work, as well as linking into the new transport interchange planned for North Shields and pedestrianised parts of the town centre as part of the council’s ambitious regeneration plans.
Cllr Sandra Graham, Cabinet member for Environment and Cycling Champion, said: “There are so many benefits to using sustainable and active forms of travel, and I am delighted that we can now share our plans for a safe, segregated, sustainable seafront route.
“It is vital that we take action to encourage a more sustainable way of life as the future of our planet depends on it and changing the way we travel is a massive part of that.
“We have an outstanding, world-class coastline in North Tyneside that is visited by millions of people every year, and we need to put measures in place that improve the offer and experience for those who come here. It’s about shifting our mindset.
“This scheme will play a vital part in our efforts to create a carbon-neutral borough and is a signal of how seriously we, as a council, are taking this climate emergency.
“Following the temporary pop-up scheme implemented along the seafront last year as part of social distancing measures, which proved very popular, we know this is something people want to see in place permanently.
“We have listened to what people have told us and have designed a scheme that balances the needs of everyone while also addressing the challenges that arose previously. I would urge everyone to find out more about the plans and let us know what you think.”
For more information and to take part in the consultation, visit https://app.placechangers.co.uk/s/203
Further details can also be found at https://my.northtyneside.gov.uk/page/28916/seafront-sustainable-route