An open letter regarding the cycle route

Posted on 06th July 2017 | in Community

As addressed to Councillor Dargue
I have written to Amble Town Council twice before but without reply. Maybe this is third time lucky.

The supposition that a cycle contraflow is dangerous is wrong. Perhaps you are unaware of the Transport Research Laboratory findings that show properly designed contraflow schemes for cycles on one-way streets “function satisfactorily in a variety of conditions”. In none of its studies had cyclists been put in a position of serious conflict, and the behaviour of cyclists was not judged to have endangered pedestrians.

Furthermore, EU guidance says contraflow “is a simple regulatory measure and highly attractive for cyclists. It creates shortcuts away from busier traffic. It has proven safe, even in the narrowest streets, when speeds are low and traffic quiet. Contraflow cycling should be generalised city-wide: this way, they become a normal situation for all and cyclists benefit most.” They then go on to say that contraflowing cyclists are actually safer than those going with the flow of traffic.

If there is an issue on Leazes Street the problem is with the road design, not with the route past the harbour.

The campaign to relocate the cycle route is being driven by, what is effect, an unelected local quango. This body, appointed by your council, has no expertise in traffic management. Furthermore, it is not neutral in its stance and is going beyond its remit of looking into traffic issues; it is driving a biased campaign based on fake information and incorrect opinion. It is not consulting with the whole community. Instead, it stifles debate by producing a one-sided petition to mislead others to believe its own dubious views. It is also using anecdotal evidence and scaremongering to support its aims; “it’s an accident waiting to happen.” The council are accepting its view without scrutiny. That is not a transparent, democratic process.

Were comparative risk assessments by qualified traffic safety officers of the existing and alternative routes carried out? Nobody at the town meeting suggested that they have taken place. A proper assessment would include the speed of vehicles on the existing and alternative route from Church Street to Links Avenue, via the Fourways roundabout. Don’t you think that the comparatively slower speed of most vehicles on Leases Street mean the risk to cyclists and pedestrians are reduced there? As both a driver and a cyclist, I do.

It is not only speed that kills. 75% of all accidents to cyclists happen at junctions. RoSPA say “Roundabouts are particularly dangerous junctions for cyclists.”

So, why are you proposing to impose extra speed, junctions and a dangerous roundabout that suffers regular vehicular damage onto all cyclists? Why are you planning to increase their risk?

The proposed change will also divert cyclists away from the harbour businesses.
There are always difficulties with cars, cyclists and pedestrians interacting on any road. A few cyclists ride dangerously and a few car drivers do the same – that is a matter for the police and the road designers. I agree that the current arrangements are not ideal; the design of the temporary one-way system was wholly inadequate. Although it is unpopular with some, I welcome the one-way system as I remember the regular gridlocks we used to have. I am pleased it is being made permanent and that proper signage and road markings are to be installed.

Please do not change the cycle route before that new, permanent scheme is in place with a properly designed contra-flow scheme tried and tested.

Ivor Rackman
George St, Amble