1 Jul 2020

Newcastle Aiming For a Greener Future

Newcastle City Council recently announced ambitious plans to turn part of the city centre into a one-way system, designed partly to comply with social distancing regulations essential to combat the circulation of COVID-19.

But it has also created an opportunity to deliver a greener way of travelling, with increased space for bike lanes and pedestrians to move around the city centre, without the threat posed by traffic.

Grey Street is one area earmarked for a radical makeover, with parking spaces removed and only southbound traffic allowed through.

Other areas to be altered include around the busy streets of the RVI hospital and also near Central Station, St James’ Park and Grainger Market.

Initially the immediate social distancing-based compliance work will take precedence, but the longer term aims of the council are to turn the Newcastle commute into a greener, healthier version of what it is currently.

With a larger cycle network, and more pavement space, the opportunity to walk or bike to and from work will be greater. There will be less traffic, which will reduce journey times on public transport using those roads.

This will inevitably improve the air quality in and around those traffic hotspots. Couple that with the additional exercise being undertaken by the population, and the idea has many benefits, and positives that have long been desired by cities across the globe.

How this would work in reality is a different question. Where will those on-street parking bays be relocated to? Will there be enough space to park? How will a one-way system affect traffic levels, particularly during rush hour? Will there be a reduction in individual car use for the commute or will there simply be a longer queue?

Sally Watson, of the Newcastle Cycling Campaign, said to the Chronicle; “Making more space for walking and cycling, while supporting our vital public transport system, is also key to making sure that our city can recover from this crisis and flourish as a healthy city.

“We believe that the changes to Grey Street in particular will be transformative for the public and for businesses.”

Although a shorter-term fix for a more pressing issue, it seems the radical overhaul of Newcastle city centre could lead to a greener, healthier outlook for the city.

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