Work is to start next week to install upgraded equipment along North Tyneside’s temporary coastal strip cycle lane.
North Tyneside Council put the two-way cycle lane in place between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth as part of a series of measures to ensure people can travel around the borough safely and feel confident and secure when visiting town centres, busy shopping areas and along the coast while social-distancing is required.
All councils are required by government to make quick changes to ensure social distancing can be maintained, in line with Public Health advice, and people can walk or cycle safely while public transport capacity is reduced.
To create the 4km cycle lane as quickly as possible and allow social distancing by giving space on the promenade back to people walking, cones and barriers have been used while the council awaited delivery of the upgraded, removable, bolt down equipment, which will vastly improve the appearance and is less intrusive.
Now, the bollards, islands and orcas, which will be in place temporarily and can be easily and quickly removed and used elsewhere if needed and are much more in keeping with the high-quality environment along the coast, have been delivered and work to install them will begin from Monday (3 August) and is expected to be completed by the end of the week. The barriers currently in place along the cycle lane will be used for other projects around the borough.
Latest figures show that up to a quarter of all trips (not including people walking) along the seafront are by bicycle with more than 1,000 cyclists using the new lane on weekdays, increasing to over 1,500 at weekends.
In addition, before the cycle lane was introduced half of cyclists were using the shared promenade, putting pressure on the limited space there.
This has now fallen to 10% as people adjust to the changes, and continues to reduce with 84% of all cyclists now using the cycle lane.
Cllr Carl Johnson, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “It’s important to remember that the main reason we brought this new cycle lane in was to ensure everyone’s safety by creating more space while social-distancing measures are in place and public transport capacity is reduced.
“It’s great that it has proved so popular, with so many people using it and enjoying the benefits that cycling can bring, not only for your own health and wellbeing but also for the environment.
“We know that the cones and barriers don’t look great but it was important that we got the cycle lane into place as quickly as possible so that people walking along the promenade could have more space, particularly during the busy summer season.
“It’s great that we can now crack on with putting the upgraded equipment in place, which will look much better and is far more in keeping with the stunning coastline that we’re so lucky to have here in North Tyneside.
“It will also make it easier for those who need to use the cycle lane for access, such as emergency services and members of the fishing community, to manoeuvre around when needed.”
The temporary cycle lane runs along the southbound section of the road along the coast and will remain as long as it is required to achieve social-distancing, in line with Government guidelines. The road has become one-way, northbound, to traffic.
The council has continued to engage with local businesses and residents directly affected by the changes and will closely monitor their impact.
People are encouraged to provide feedback following the measures being put into place as these will be considered as part of an ongoing review.