Opinion: A sustainable future for Amble?

Posted on 14th October 2021 | in Community , Opinion

Back in July I tweeted a photo of my son riding down Queen Street. It ended up with almost 150,000 views. Many folks realised that it wasn’t a particularly healthy scene – a polluted, hostile, car-filled environment with a vulnerable young boy penned in on all sides. Some wondered what a young lad was doing on a busy road.

Do you think Queen Street has too many cars?

On the flip side, there were positives to the photo – a busy high street in a small coastal town that is seemingly bursting at the seams with people eager for to make the most of their holidays.

That said, there is a serious conversation that the custodians of Amble and countless other places like it need to have in the decade ahead. It’s a decade where climate change will be front and centre.

As handy as cars are (we own one, but are doing a decent job of reducing our reliance on it) they are staggeringly inefficient at moving people. Let’s say there are 30 cars in my photo and, being generous, they all brought two people into the town. That’s 60 people in a space that, were it pedestrianised, could handle hundreds and hundreds at a time.

Businesses on Queen Street really are missing a trick. Land on the outskirts of Amble could be better used for parking and a wonderful, healthy, bustling Queen Street could burst forth.

Amble, like many seaside towns, will have peaks and troughs through the year so there’s nothing to stop schemes like this being timed so vehicles could access roads more often in the off season, or during off peak times during the day as well. Vans will need to make deliveries. We’ll need far more people on trains, coaches and buses, with bikes coming in very handy for those shorter trips.

Disabled drivers will need plenty of thought of course, but pedestrianised streets are far from lacking in terms of accessibility. Head to Northumberland Street in Newcastle to see what I mean.

Alnwick has had a little play with this as you may have noticed, which, from the few times we visited, seems to have proven successful. Lots more people can access the space now and people can linger and enjoy the street away from the noise and pollution that our cars bring.

The pandemic has given us a little glimpse of what the UK looks like when no one can escape.
So I guess what I’m getting at is this: a big opportunity awaits places like Amble in the coming decade, but it won’t happen by accident. Get some plans in place. Try things at weekends and see how they go. Move fast! Be brave! You won’t regret it.

Ed Lamb
twitter.com/edwardlamb

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9 thoughts on "Opinion: A sustainable future for Amble?"

  1. Carolyn mcmahon says:

    I think the pedestrianisation of Queen Street is a great idea. If the council can speed up the extension of the car park behind Tesco ( which seems to be taking forever), it will offer people the option of parking there instead. Queen street is in desperate need of a complete refurbishment, including drainage, new wider pavements that are even and less of a trip hazard. We could have some small trees in sustainable containers and maybe utilise local young artists to provide nautical sculptures to enhance Amble further. Too many small towns are dying because they don’t have money spent on them to enhance them, and keep them fresh. Amble is a great community and local businesses would thrive if Amble was attractive to the people who live here and tourists alike. The widening of pavements would surely be beneficial to the elderly or disabled who currently find access difficult.

  2. Mona Lott says:

    Yes Ed, vulnerable arreet without a crash helmet and high viz.

    Pedestrianising.Surely this is a through road following a one way system, unless there is another new road that bypasses Queen Street I am unaware of. Will shop owners lose trade from the regulars who just want to duck in and out?

  3. Terry Barton says:

    I read with interest Ed Lamb’s view of making Queen Street a traffic free zone.
    There are a number of problems with that idea. Firstly where do all the cars go to get from the top of Queens Street to the bottom near Tesco. There is only one route, that is down Church Street. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if all the traffic coming into and out of Amble had to use that one road. All the existing cars that park on Queens Street for an hour could park on the new Amble car park behind Tesco. (When that project is started). How many shoppers do you imagine are going to walk all the way from the car park up Queens Street to the Butchers, Post Office or even the Co-op. I would suggest very few, most of the business would be lost to Morrison’s on the Industrial Estate. Yes, the day trippers would love to wander up and down a traffic free Queen’s Street in the summer months, but businesses need shoppers all year round. This may not be the optimistic rose tinted view some would like to cherish for the future Amble… but it the reality of our road structure in our Town.

  4. Catherine Robson says:

    I for one would not be able to shop local if I had to carry bags of shopping down the length of the street.

  5. Michael says:

    A hostile envirenment🙄 a bit dramatic , it’s a street, simple as, looks like a Sunday as shops shut either side of boy on bike, I see no danger at all

  6. Patricia Gordon says:

    You couldn’t make that up ! and he is boasting about it on Twitter, saying, ‘He is in trouble’.

  7. gareth davies says:

    @MonaLott – Why does the child need hi-viz? They’re perfectly visible on a perfectly clear day. I swear the obsession of people who don’t cycle with making cyclists (or kids, or people just going to shops by bike) is just an attempt to put people off using bikes. It’s the only explanation.

  8. Tara McWester says:

    Amble is a busy town; peak times during the day, in the evening you can easily find a car park, if you actually live close to the town centre; walk there don’t drive ;as you are just adding to the problem. Perhaps there should be one way traffic. If you close the street altogether you will push them out to other streets in the surrounding area. Or close the street and have a park and ride from the braid. I am amazed that you would allow a small child to be riding a bike in such a situation; and you are there taking a photo. Some would say if we all had electric cars; reduced pollution. Or does there need to be a tax for those who drive into the centre of town. There is a High School in the town; they could have a project ;how to reduce congestion and pollution in the town

  9. Brian Arthur says:

    Amble needs more car parking. Opportunities have been missed. How many serious injuries have been caused by traffic on Queen Street? It has become busier but it seems safe to me. I am not convinced that pedestrianisation is the answer but I am open to the discussion.Population has grown and Amble has become a tourist destination. We should embrace the opportunities that brings. The area needs jobs. It’s a pity that the industrial estate is being converted into a retail park but it has not brought enough sustainable employment to the town. As for the young cyclist, I’m pleased to see him reclaiming the road. However, all cyclists need to wear head protection.

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