Meeting Three – 31 October

Blue House & Jesmond Dene Road Working Group

Monday 31st October 2016

Notes of the third meeting taken by Ali Lamb, Transport Engagement Officer, Newcastle City Council

Present: John Dales, Independent Facilitator; Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment, Ali Lamb, Engagement Officer; Open Lab, Newcastle University. Cllrs Catherine Walker (North Jesmond); Dominic Raymont (East Gosforth); Nick Cott (West Gosforth); Stella Postlethwaite (North Jesmond). Mike Scott, Nexus.

Representatives of stakeholder groups: NewCycling; Jesmond Residents Association; Save Newcastle Wildlife; Space for Gosforth, Newcastle Cycling Stakeholders Forum; Gosforth Traffic; Jesmond Dene Estate Residents Association; West Gosforth Residents Association; Change.org Petition; High West Jesmond Residents Association; the Five Admirals Residents Association; T&W Public Transport User Group; Save our Town Moor.

Agenda Items

JD welcomed everyone to the meeting and apologised for the late circulation of the papers. Other communication issues were discussed including the length of time between meetings when the group are in a collaborative but challenging period when good communication is so important. JD suggested that an additional meeting in 2 weeks’ time would be better than communicating using posts on the web site …meetings are a better way of exploring complex information and appreciating different points of view. JD noted that an extra meeting had also been added onto the end of the scheduled meetings, so all in all, the programme had gone from 4 to 6 meetings and the door was always open for others if they are needed.

It was agreed that an additional meeting on Monday 14th November would be arranged AL

Discussion points:

Discussion points;

Questions for clarification before the assessment session began:

Observations from the table sessions revealed that there were very similar discussions at each one – congestion; safety; provision for walking and cycling; protection of moorland.

Feedback sheets were collected and JD asked that any other feedback/comments be emailed to him.

Design 1 – A signalised crossroads with all movements possible

Design 2 – A signalised crossroads with some restricted movements

Design 3 – A compact roundabout or ‘turbo’ roundabout

Design 4 – A conventional roundabout

JD shared estimates on the number of trees that would be affected by each of the 4 options – to be circulated by JD

Next Meeting – Monday 14th November 2016, 5.30 for a 6pm start.

Comments

  1. I still remain unconvinced about the need to do anything to the roundabout itself. I can see significant benefit in improving the arrangements for cyclists and pedestrians to cross the roads near the entry and/or exit from the roundabout, crossing the other side of the Blue House is attractive.
    I do not believe that the roundabout is the cause of congestion: travelling north the control point is definitely Forsyth road traffic lights. The pinchpoints are also traffic flows going away from the roundabout: ie gosforth high street and osborne road narrowing. The traffic flow data I have seen shows a significant drop in flows from 2008 to 2015: why? and the answer is not the recession as jobs located in newcastle increased in number during this period. Whatever we did between 2008-2015 we should keep doing it as it works! (at least for traffic flows).
    More detail is needed to understand the collision and accident data and its implications; if most accidents take place at off-peak hours then that implies the need for 24/7 traffic lights does it not? Managing congestion requires intelligent traffic lights at peak hours only.
    The idea that we have to do something about BHR because it has been identified as a concern since 1999 is a nonsense; the fact that nothing has been done since 1999 suggests there is no easy answer!
    What are the acceptable standards of local and national policies? We need to be sure that we are measuring the correct things; ie accidents are actually accidents are at the BHR and delay times are delays because of BHR.

  2. Interesting that NCC point to the number of collisions in the past 15 years, the evidence points to off peak times being the highest risk and yet in those 15 years they have presided over the highest speed limits of any urban non-motorway thoroughfare within their boundary. Case in point was my own recent near miss at Bluehouse, the taxi traveling south from Gosforth was going too fast (but within the speed limit of 50mph) saw me too late and underestimated my speed (well within the 40mph speed limit) fortunately both drivers reacted in time and there were no other cars on the junction. Evidence points towards small urban roundabouts with sensible speed limits being safer than traffic light junctions with higher limits where drivers can miss read signals or try to jump the lights with catastrophically high collision speeds.
    GG’s comments about budgets for trees appear framed to create an impression without a commitment. Read them carefully and the assurances evaporate: “if trees become part of a highway scheme, it becomes possible to include tree replacement in the scheme business case and budget” i.e. “if”; “possible” not definite; and ‘replacement” not maintenance or management, so no commitment at all to the existing trees. An elm sapling with plastic shield ready to plant is £10-£20 – hardly a game changer of an offer I think.
    I remain to be convinced that there is a viable alternative to the current roundabout but I do think the roundabout could be made to work better by routing all the cycle and pedestrian lanes onto the green space between or behind the trees and setting the crossings back from the approaches as per some of the Dutch designs. This would give a greater footprint for the roundabout itself as all the available space would be for vehicles so no footpaths, refuges etc needed within the roundabout itself. I strongly suspect a turbo roundabout could fit in this space but this is where the limitations of the current process are exposed. It is for the residents groups to tell NCC the parameters that are acceptable to them then it is for NCC to design something to fit those parameters not the residents. Think about buying a new kitchen, you go to the showroom and look at all the fantastic ideas, but at some point you have to go home and measure your own kitchen and ask a designer to make a design to fit, you can’t just buy a kitchen and expect your neighbour to give you part of their house to put it in.
    Finally this document (http://bluehousegroup.org/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Appendix-F-Blue-House-Optioneering-Short.pdf). Can the group please categorically rule out the option set out in the drawings for appendix D which is a gyratory sitting on the Highbury allotments and recreation field (already described by GG as “low amenity land” in an earlier document). I am mindful of the tale of the Trojan horse and it worries me that this design exists at all, that it was used as the basis for traffic flow modelling and that despite a number of representations on my part there is complete silence on this completely unacceptable design.

  3. The Blue House building obstructs the view of drivers travelling south along the Great North Rd of drivers entering the roundabout from Grandstand Road. Removal of the Blue House Building would improve safety and reduce accidents

    1. If drivers travelling south were not doing so at too high a speed, then they would easily be able to see drivers entering the roundabout from Grandstand Road … no need to demolish a landmark building, just greater care and consideration from drivers!

  4. ….am I mistaken in concluding that, so far, findings show;

    traffic congestion = lower speed = fewer accidents?

    If so then a cost effective solution would be to leave things as they are and hope traffic increases!

  5. My perception is that the main congestion at the Blue house roundabout is from the south at rush hour.
    I do not believe that whatever ‘improvements’ you do to at the Blue House roundabout will be able to increase traffic flow across the junction.
    My evidence for this is the failure of ‘Improvements’ at Cowgate roundabout to reduce the enormous queue from the south at 5pm.

    Has anyone considered a new small roundabout at the Forsyth Road/North Road junction?
    This would allow:
    1 Reduction in costs by leaving the Blue house roundabout substantially as it is.
    2 Removal of all the traffic that currently goes 360 degrees around the Blue House roundabout to get back down to Forsyth Rd.
    3 Slow and regulate the traffic flow approaching the Blue House roundabout from the south.
    4 Allow the possibility of a good access to the new Wylam Brewery in the future.

  6. If more accidents happen at off peak time are the involved veichles going at too high a speed? In my experience if vehicles have no queue in front of them they navigate the round about at too high a speed. This restricts the smooth and even flow of traffic. Put speed bumps down at each approach so cars have to enter the roundabout at a safe speed and there will be fewer accidents and give everyone a chance to get around the roundabout in a safe manner.

  7. I’d like to ask the group to consider a raised ‘table’ at the roundabout, extending back to improved cycle/pedestrian crossings as discussed in comments above. A good design of table could surely reduce speeds and increase safety without adding to congestion?

Comments are closed.