19 March 2021| | 3 min read
Proposals to prioritise people and public transport
Plans to make permanent changes to a key Newcastle route that will improve access to the city’s main hospital have been confirmed.
Last summer Newcastle City Council made a series of temporary changes on Queen Victoria Road to help people travel in a safe and socially-distanced way.
The measures were designed to make it easier to travel on foot and by bike, particularly for key workers at the Royal Victoria Infirmary, by creating safer space for walking and cycling on Queen Victoria Road.
The city council has been monitoring the temporary arrangements to see how they are working and has been listening to feedback from the hospital, Newcastle University, and the nearby Childsplay Nursery, on Claremont Road.
Now the city council is planning to make permanent changes on Queen Victoria Road and Claremont Road to prioritise walking, cycling and public transport.
As well as a new protected two-way cycle lane and safer crossing facilities, there will also be a new bus stop created outside the RVI.
Cllr Arlene Ainsley, cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council, said: “The changes we have made on Queen Victoria Road to make it safer and easier to walk and cycle have resulted in very positive feedback, particularly from hospital staff who travel to work this way.
“We’ve worked closely with the hospital as well as with Newcastle University and the children’s nursery on Claremont Road, to understand how effective the changes were and whether we needed to make any further alterations.
“Thanks to their feedback we are now able to create permanent changes in this part of the city centre that will put people first and improve safety for those traveling to the hospital, the university and the children and families that go to the nursery.”
Diane Gregory, nursery manager at Childsplay Nursery, said road safety on Claremont Road is a key concern for parents, particularly when having to cross the road with young children.
She said: “Claremont Road is very busy with pedestrians and vehicles travelling to surrounding workplaces as well as our nursery and we have had concerns over road safety for many years.
“When the council advised us of plans for the area to become a greener and safer zone for people traveling to work and to our nursery we were delighted to have the opportunity to become involved and to have the views and opinions of young children, parents, and employees incorporated.
“We are delighted with the safety elements these plans have brought and are very much looking forward to a greener and safer Claremont Road.”
A spokesperson for the Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “We are delighted to have worked closely with our partners at Newcastle University and Newcastle City Council to develop a plan for the upgrade of walking and cycling facilities on Queen Victoria Road.
“Enabling staff and patients to choose active travel to our busy hospital is a key element of our strategy to address the climate emergency and health inequalities in the North East. These changes are welcomed by Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.”
Iain Garfield, director of estates and facilities at Newcastle University, added: “We were delighted to discover that the city council had received funding to improve active commuting facilities on Queen Victoria Road, Claremont Road and Leazes Lane.
“We have been actively involved in discussions and implementation of the temporary facilities and, more recently, in the design discussions for the permanent scheme.
“The collaborative approach between the council, the hospital trust and ourselves has, we believe, resulted in an excellent scheme which will benefit all road users and allow future developments to extend improvements beyond this scheme.”
The city council has secured a total of £2.3m, including funding from the Active Travel Fund, to carry out the work.
Key changes as part of the proposals include:
- Two-way, protected cycle lane for the length of Queen Victoria Road and on to Claremont Road.
- Provision of the signalised junction and pedestrian crossing at the Claremont Road car park, and a right only exit from the car park, to provide safer crossing facilities.
- Redesign of the roundabout at Queen Victoria Road / Claremont Road junction to allow for better and safer facilities for people on foot and on bikes.
- Permanent, signalised pedestrian crossings to facilitate the large volumes of people on foot accessing both the hospital and the university.
- New entrance and exit arrangements on the Queen Victoria Road from hospital car parks, to support the aspirations of the RVI’s new internal road layout.
- Provision of a new bus stop facility on Queen Victoria Road to support bus travel to the RVI.
- Change in priority at the Richardson Road / Queen Victoria Road junction .