Opposition councillors attack North Tyneside coastal cycle lane project ahead of work starting
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The first phase is scheduled for completion in spring 2024 and the whole lane is expected to be finished by 2025.
However, Tory councillors in Tynemouth have lambasted the cycle lane as “hair-brained” and claim it will lead to disruption and road “chaos.”
Speaking on behalf of Cllr Christopher Johnston and himself, Cllr Lewis Bartoli said: “If the disastrous cycle scheme at Rake Lane has taught us anything, it is that prioritising a small handful of cyclists over thousands of commuters causes nothing but disruption, congestion, and increases in accidents.
"I accept that the scheme is of high quality but it will effectively turn Tynemouth into a one-way system and the path is not even continuous with a huge gap in the middle at Cullercoats.
“This hair-brained scheme will cause congestion, inconvenience, pollution and chaos along our beautiful coastline.”
Cllr Bartoli went on to criticise the Labour administration on how it is “spending other people’s money” and also claimed the original temporary scheme installed during the pandemic was unpopular.
This is despite the project being funded with £11m from the Department of Transport and cycling organisations.
Council chiefs hit back saying the scheme will create a safe and sustainable route that ‘does not cost council taxpayers one penny’ and added: “Cllr Bartoli goes against his own government’s funding pots and priorities to promote more active forms of travel, and against their own motion last month.”
In addition, a six-week public consultation conducted by the local authority, starting in October 2021, recorded that out of more than 11,000 comments made, 6,965 were in favour. The consultation also recorded that 68% of the 1,500 respondents believed they would travel more sustainably if the scheme was permanently implemented.
Dr Sian Williams, a Whitley Bay GP and long-time supporter of the project, said: “I am really pleased to see the cycle lane start to become a reality. I hope it will provide a safe space to encourage more cyclists of all ages, as happened with the temporary cycle way when more children and families were out on their wheels.
“I hope that the traffic calming measures will make those walking or cycling feel safer as well as improve air quality for everyone, and overall improve people’s enjoyment of an already beautiful place.”
The plans ensure that two-way traffic would be maintained, with the exception of a less than 600-metre section in Tynemouth.
Cllr Sandra Graham, cabinet member for the climate, said: "In September, there was a motion for enhanced road safety across the borough and here is a project that will help to achieve this.
“The scheme will in fact make the seafront safer for all, make it a more pleasant place to be, and bring greater tourism and visitors to North Tyneside.
"Road safety will be improved, giving people space to walk and cycle and reducing speeds whilst giving people the confidence to take up and develop their cycling skills in a lovely setting with space for everyone.”