New measures to create more safe space and support businesses will be introduced from next week.
North Tyneside Council has outlined the first in a series of initiatives designed 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.
The temporary measures, which have been developed in consultation with local businesses and other partners and will be regularly reviewed, include creating pedestrian-only zones in areas of high footfall and where space is limited.
The southbound carriageway of the road along the coast between Whitley Bay and Tynemouth will become a two-way cycle route to allow the promenade to be used solely by people walking.
It comes after a significant increase in cycling and walking since lockdown, especially at the coast, and the council has further plans, which include linking the seafront to pedestrian zones in local centres to encourage residents and visitors to shop local.
As part of its ‘Ambition for North Tyneside’ the council has set out a clear vision to create vibrant, attractive town and district centres where people want to spend their time.
The initial changes will be put in place from Wednesday 1 July in time for the start of the busy summer season and following the reopening of many businesses.
Cllr Carl Johnson, cabinet member for Environment and Transport, said: “The safety of our residents is our absolute priority. By creating larger outdoor spaces we are supporting the recovery of the economy by giving people the confidence to safely and securely return to shops and businesses in town centres.
“And the changes along the coastal strip will give people on bikes and those out walking separate space while also supporting our commitment to promoting sustainable travel.”
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.
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 and identify where any adjustments should be made.
The measures will only remain in place for as long as they are necessary and can be amended in response to feedback.
Walking and cycling charity Sustrans will also be inviting comments about the coastal strip via its interactive online Space to Move tool as it forms part of the National Cycle Network.
Cllr Sarah Day, North Tyneside’s Cycling Champion, said: “The new cycle lane along the coast is great news for residents and visitors and is something people have been telling us they want to see for some time.
“We’re doing a lot of work to promote the benefits of sustainable travel and are committed to improving infrastructure in the borough so this will form an excellent addition to our fantastic network of traffic-free routes.”
To quickly resolve overcrowding issues at the coast, temporary barriers, cones, signage and road markings will be installed to create the cycle lane.
These will be upgraded after around two weeks with removable bollards, islands and orcas to remain in keeping with the high-quality environment along the coast.
The first phase of schemes to be put in place from next week are:
- Coastal strip cycle lane
- Fish Quay pedestrian zone
- Park View, Whitley Bay, pedestrian zone
- High Street West, Wallsend, pedestrian zone
- Tynemouth Front Street footpath widening