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Great North Road/Broadway update

October 6, 2015 11:30 AM

Cllrs Pauline Allen, David Down and Robin Ashby invited senior council officials to visit the new layouts on Broadway and the Great North Road. We spent about an hour and a half walking round the whole scheme, observing cars, cyclists and pedestrians as schools went home and towards rush hour.

This follows the public meeting attended by over 100 local people who wished to discuss the issues.

While this isn't our scheme, it's worth recording that :

  • There are over 30,000 vehicle movements a day through this roundabout
  • Until recently, there were no formal crossing points on Broadway West, Broadway East and Great North Road (north) so no legal or physical protections for pedestrians. There is a clear duty on motorists to give way to pedestrians at zebra crossings.
  • The money used is provided by Government and developers rather than from Council Tax
  • The segregation of cyclists is to protect less confident cyclists - and therefore encourage them to use bikes - rather than the fast moving experienced cyclists - who are not obliged under the Highway Code to use them.
  • The new facilities have been installed without the loss of road traffic lanes, although partly designed to make vehicles move more slowly because the lanes are narrower. (At least one resident reports this is happening)
  • On shared space, pedestrians take priority over cyclists - as new signs proclaim.
  • Cycle lanes across Broadway East and Broadway West alongside the zebras can't be completed because of delays at the Department of Transport in implementing new regulations. In the mean time they should dismount and use the zebras as pedestrians.
  • The whole scheme - as well as the proposals for Gosforth High Street - has been reviewed by Newcastle-educated John Dales, Chairman of the National Transport Planning Society. His report hasn't yet been received, but verbally seems fairly supportive of what has been done.
  • This isn't the end. Some parts have had to be redone because the contractors' work wasn't up to standard. There's an application for a £600,000 grant to help with express buses. And the cycle lanes will be extended north of the Broadway roundabout, probably with the speed limit being reduced from 40 mph to 30 mph.
  • The big picture : This scheme is part of a bigger one from Sandy Lane partial dualing - being implemented by North Tyneside Council over the next few years - to the City centre. It includes work on 3 of least safe parts of the city's road network, and will include new lower energy use "smart" traffic lights and advanced signalling to motorists. (see www.newcastle.gov.uk/renewcastle)
  • Temporary signs around the roundabout will be removed now the scheme is "bedding in".

Observations :

  • Traffic entering Broadway East is local - it's a giant cul de sac. So drivers are overwhelmingly local who now know the new layout - and that children using the crossing are theirs or their neighbours.
  • Jim the crossing warden still operates outside the school, so parents and children can cross with him onto the north side of Broadway east if they are nervous about the new zebra.
  • Although many people have said the crossing is too close to the roundabout, it's on the "desire line" - where people want to go. We observed people leaving it to walk even closer to the roundabout. If it was further along Broadway East it would be used less, and cars would reach the crossing have accelerated more off the roundabout.
  • There are "islands" between both Broadway zebras and the roundabout which provide mid-crossing protection.
  • We've asked for the interval on the north side of Great North Road to be extended. But remember, the audible sound is to warn people not to cross - there's still time to complete a started crossing before the lights change.
  • The plastic "orcas" segregating the cycle lanes were tested by Newcastle cycling groups before they were ordered, and are considered better than the alternative "armadillos"
  • Taxis picking up the elderly on the Great North Road and delivery vehicles can legitimately cross the orcas. They may however stop on the dual carriageway, temporarily reducing it to single lane.
  • The red and white poles on the cycle lane segregations are called jislons, and are an integral part of it (as well as delineating the carriageway in the event of uncleared snow)
  • The traffic lights are brighter and use less energy than the old style ones (replacement parts for which are getting increasingly difficult to get)
  • Traffic jamming the roundabout is very temporary and slows traffic flow, making it safer.
  • Two benches will soon be put in place on the northern corner of Broadway East so that pedestrians may, once again, enjoy a rest, if needed
  • Motorists are surrounded by a metal box, move fast, and kill or injure tens of thousands every year (details at https://www.gov.uk/government/statistics/reported-road-casualties-in-great-britain-main-results-2013.) Others don't. So if in doubt SLOW DOWN.