Our call for a Low Traffic Jesmond
Under a new City Council scheme, Jesmond, alongside other neighbourhoods across the city, is set to become a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. The aim is to reduce the volume of non-local traffic in Jesmond, while still allowing access for motor vehicles. This will enable more people to use active modes of transport such as walking and cycling.
Initially, any changes made will be temporary, with a view to making them permanent at a later date should they prove successful.
To support this, SPACE for Jesmond team have submitted a proposal for the redesign of Jesmond as a Low Traffic Neighbourhood.
Our proposal, which covers North Jesmond and South Jesmond wards, was submitted to Newcastle City Council as part of their call for ideas from local residents to shape and implement the scheme.
What is a Low Traffic Neighbourhood?
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood, or LTN, is a residential area with no through traffic. This is normally achieved with bollards and planters which allow cycles to pass through, but not motor traffic (these are known as “modal filters”).
No one loses access: all residents and businesses maintain full access to all properties.
What are the benefits?
The benefits of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood are quieter, safer streets, and when our neighbourhood feels safe it becomes a more sociable, friendly and fun place. The lockdown due to the coronavirus pandemic gave us all direct experience of how our neighbourhood felt with less motor traffic and how much nicer it was to walk or cycle for everyday trips to the shops or parks; children played with siblings in the street, families cycled around the neighbourhood and neighbours chatted, albeit at a distance. The UK government have made funding available to councils to make that change permanent. Even as businesses return to normal and people return to office working, there is no reason that motor traffic has to cut through residential areas instead of using the main roads, and this is an opportunity to make nicer neighbourhoods our “new normal.”
Children benefit in a big way from Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. Playing in the street no longer has to be a thing of the past and we could once again see groups of children walking themselves to school without a parent in tow, freeing up time for parents too. Local businesses benefit; neighbourhoods which are more pleasant encourage people to shop local, rather than hopping in the car to go to a soulless business park.
Jesmond already has Low Traffic Neighbourhoods – but we can have more
23% of Jesmond is already a Low Traffic Neighbourhood. Reid Park Road and the streets to the north had bollards placed along Jesmond Dene Road when the road was closed to motor traffic in 2015, creating a quieter, safer neighbourhood for local residents. There are other other area of Jesmond which enjoy these benefits too, such as Jesmond Vale.
The remaining area of Jesmond however, is open to through traffic. The widespread availability of satellite navigations systems and smartphones in the last decade has meant many more vehicles are avoiding main roads and working their way through back streets in the name of saving a minute or two on journey time. This increase is apparent across the UK with the government reporting a massive increase in traffic on residential streets, and the side effect is that our neighbourhoods feel less safe to get around by foot or cycle.
There are other areas of Newcastle which are home to Low Traffic Neighbourhoods too – most post World War 2 housing developments are residential estates consisting of cul-de-sacs with no through traffic, and these areas remain popular with families, despite the fact they lack the shops, swimming pools and cafes of older suburbs like Jesmond. When low traffic measures are added to an area like Jesmond, you get the benefit of lower traffic levels, but much better walkability and local services than a modern estate – a winning combination.
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood will work well in Jesmond
A Low Traffic Neighbourhood will work well in Jesmond. Our area is extremely walkable with nearby shops and services but also has several main roads around its perimeter which are designed for motor traffic. This means that short trips within Jesmond are typically a 5 to 15 minute walk or a 5 to 10 minute cycle, and motor traffic can easily access the main roads – the Coast Road, Great North Road and Osborne Road – without any difficulty.
When through traffic is removed, access to the neighbourhood is generally by the nearest main road. Our analysis, provided to Newcastle Council, shows that the increase in journey time for trips that would previously have been made by cutting through Jesmond’s residential streets is only a few minutes – and that “going the long way round” makes little difference except for the shortest of trips which could be walked in under 15 minutes anyway. One of the aims of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods is to discourage very short car journeys and encourage people to walk or cycle instead, which becomes much easier and more pleasant with the greatly reduced traffic.
What we’re asking for
We believe the best way to implement a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Jesmond is to do it properly, and not by half measures. What we’re asking Newcastle City Council for is:
- Stop through traffic – don’t just try to slow it down
- Make space for children – it should be safe for them to get around
- Visually nice – adding greenery to our streets
- Be clear – this will mean changes for some people’s usual routes
- Be confident – even though changes can be difficult, people love Low Traffic Neighbourhoods once they’re in place
How you can show your support
Newcastle City Council’s consultation will be opening on Low Traffic Neighbourhoods in due course, and we encourage you to engage in this process.
You can email your ideas and thoughts about making Jesmond a safer, nicer place by reducing motor traffic to North Jesmond Councillor Wendy Young – firstname.lastname@example.org – who is collecting initial ideas from the community.
You can get in touch with SPACE for Jesmond via email@example.com or @SPACEforJesmond on Twitter
October 23, 2020 - 5:49 pm
One of our biggest problems in Jesmond is too many resident cars due to the massive proportion of HMOs. Other cities deny students permits. Other than medical students and other NHS students who need to travel around the region for placements there is no need for any student to have a car in Newcastle. Stop the permits or charge an exorbitant amount and cut the parking down.
October 23, 2020 - 7:50 pm
I am totally in support of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood in Jesmond but I can see that there are a number of issues that would need to be addressed. I think we can agree that the closure of Jesmond Dene Road had brought many benefits especially during the last year but it would be interesting to know if other areas have experienced displacement traffic because of it. It is logical and desirable to deter traffic from outside the area using Jesmond as a short cut but I wonder how many of the vehicles originate from within the area and as these vehicles have to be accommodated in some way as they find new routes to their destinations the overall reduction in traffic may be smaller than expected. Back lanes can also be used as rat runs so presumably whatever layouts are decided upon they will be treated accordingly. Lastly Jesmond is made up of a vibrant mix of residents some long term and others transient. Some measures will require residents to alter their behaviour and ‘buy into’ the overall objective of creating a better neighbourhood . We have all witnessed drivers who have nothing but contempt for the 20mph zones in the area, how do you plan to encourage the behaviour necessary to make this scheme a success?
November 2, 2020 - 5:11 pm
We are a residents group so only have the same influence as any other residents with regard to this scheme. We would like to think that driver behaviour can be addressed through the built environment, in this case, cutting through traffic, and we of course would like to see back lanes included in that or the designs would not work in our opinion.
Traffic on Osborne Road reduced around the time Jesmond Dene Road was closed according to council data. Displacement of traffic is not straightforward because journeys are a result of human choices, so it’s not inevitable that traffic simply gets pushed onto other roads. That said, we are of the opinion that main roads are more suitable for motor traffic than quieter residential streets.
October 24, 2020 - 1:42 pm
I grew up in a Lancashire town 70 years ago and remember being able to play safely in the street. 35 years on children played safely in the Gosforth terraces. That no longer happens as the streets are now lined on both sides with residents cars.
Most days I walk the 1.2 miles to Acorn Road, have a coffee and watch the world go by. Like Gosforth the streets of Jesmond between Osborne Road and Highbury are packed with residents cars on both sides of the street. No right minded parent would allow their children to play in those streets.
The quote from Lambeth Living Streets can be said of any resident returning to these streets.
“This means that a driver taking a mile on an urban residential street is twice as likely to kill or seriously injure a child walking, and three times more likely to kill or seriously injure a child on a bike, than if they stuck to the main road.”
I support the idea of an LTN but speed also kills. Most drivers I have observed drive well in excess of the 20mph speed limit on Forsythe Road, St George’s Terrace and Acorn Road.
Mention is made of a ring of main roads around the area including Osborne Road. I personally believe that Osborne Road should be included in the LTN. Traffic along the full length of Osborne Road needs more effective calming. Such as introducing more vertical treatments coupled with priority narrowing and even introducing a no through section except for buses and emergency vehicles.
October 24, 2020 - 4:30 pm
Excellent proposal the combination of local services and well maintained major routes mean that a low travel Jesmond seems like a very feasible and desirable outcome with many positives for local businesses and residents alike.
October 25, 2020 - 2:57 am
What about us who live ON Sandyford bus route, opposite the cemetery??? It’s bad enough already. This road is so narrow too.
Older people living in these properties. Even the cyclists using the pavements are a menace to older generation, coming up behind you, quietly.
October 25, 2020 - 1:25 pm
Please can we see your proposal.
John Francis Harrison
October 26, 2020 - 4:17 pm
I do not support this AT ALL
As a Jesmond resident, homeowner and taxpayer, I am disgusted that such measures can be implemented without adequate consultation.
November 2, 2020 - 4:56 pm
There will be a full consultation which you can respond to, or you can email your Councillor, so your concern about implementation without consultation does not apply, as we understand it.
November 2, 2020 - 12:02 pm
I’m interested in what is meant by “age friendly” in the aims of Space for Jesmond.
It seems that the age indicated is the young, who are able to walk or cycle to schools, and the few leisure facilities in Jesmond. The elderly seem to be excluded, as many of us rely on our car to access key amenities and leisure facilities in the region.
I have lived in Jesmond for over 50 years and my observation of recent years is that access to and from Jesmond has been targeted by both Newcastle Council, non-elected organisations and now Space for Jesmond.
The projects put forward all prejudiced Jesmond; these projects included the now-disgraced Blue House Roundabout expansion that made access to Jesmond more difficult, and the abandoned air quality proposals that ensured Jesmond car drivers paid when they exited or entered Jesmond.
None of these proposals addressed the question of improving wider public transport for older people, and this is simply not good enough.
November 2, 2020 - 5:05 pm
We believe people of any age have a right to walk or cycle without being disadvantaged by pavement parking, speeding and, relevant to this article, the volume of through traffic which can discourage walking and cycling by making the area less safe. We were not in any way involved with the designs on the Blue House Roundabout proposal. The Air Quality proposals, as we understand it, are more subject to delay than abandonment, and did not apply to private vehicles in the final proposal. One of the proposals did include a charge for private vehicles which did not meet emissions standards, and this applied to older diesel vehicles. We are not council staff, but local residents, so our knowledge of this simply comes from engaging with these previous public consultations.
As stated in our article, no access is lost to motor vehicles when Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are created, and the impact on journey times is minimal or nil for anything but the shortest of journeys.
November 10, 2020 - 8:54 am
I for one would rather see ASB, rubbish and detritus dealt with first.
The biggest problem Jesmond has is the multitude of HMOs bringing in more transient car users. We are losing the family/long term resident balance in favour or short term HMOs.
Like someone has already suggested a lot of students don’t have a need for a car, so maybe employ a scheme akin to the one in Durham where the university told students they could no longer bring cars into the city centre term time.
Jesmond is a completely different animal traffic wise when schools and universities are on holidays!
November 17, 2020 - 1:27 pm
I’m a local journalist for Jesmond Local, planning on writing a story on the viewpoints and impacts on a low traffic neighbourhood for Jesmond.
I’m interested in your article, and wondered if you’d be interested in providing me with a comment?
Hope to hear from you soon,
June 2, 2021 - 8:39 am
Well done on contributing a well-researched piece to the debate on LTNs. I’m personally impacted by previous road closures such as Jesmond Dene Road, causing me to change my journey, but the benefit of having a traffic-free road on my doorstep for walking and cycling has far outweighed the impact. Likewise I do use Grosvenor Road as a through road to Jesmond Dene Road on occasion, but would quickly adapt if this was made access-only and accompanied by changes to improve traffic flows on Osborne Road. Indeed, if Osborne Road was closed south of Acorn Road, we would all need to reconsider some journeys but could still access the whole of Jesmond if really needed, via the Great North Road/A1058 loop, and through-traffic would be eliminated. As with the arguments about Stoneyhurst Bridge there will be loud complaints about access, but in fact residents both sides of that bridge can still access their homes, they just need to consider leaving a couple of minutes extra. The benefits in terms of quieter and safer streets are plain to see.
As an example of a benefit of changes, I have seen the implementation (at great cost) of the traffic lights at the south end of North Jesmond Avenue /Osborne Road. The lights seem rather superfluous but that small amount of segregated cycle lane make pulling out from both St George’s Terrace and N Jesmond Avenue far safer. Extending the cycle route further would be of great benefit and encourage more people on to their bikes.
Thanks for this and let’s hope it has an impact.