Should buses be banned from this Newcastle street to improve safety?

There are yet more plans in place to redevelop parts of Newcastle city centre to increase safety for pedestrians in the city.

You can read more about the plans here, but in a nutshell it could see Blackett Street – the area near Grey’s Monument and Eldon Square – turned into a pedestrian- and cycles-only area, as below  (image from Newcastle City Council):

The plans have been initially approved by Newcastle City Council, but a consultation is ongoing. If fully approved, changes could be made in time for the Great Exhibition of the North during the summer of 2018.

What’s the problem?

At the moment, a narrow bus lane passes between two wide pedestrian areas in the centre of Newcastle. The carriageway is two-way, though only wide enough for one vehicle, with a give way system in place.

The carriageway is also raised in some parts, so it is on the same level as the pedestrian areas around it.

This means buses pass through at speeds up to 20mph, very close to where a lot of pedestrians are walking.

The biggest issue with the stretch of road in question is that it doesn’t necessarily feel like there’s a road there. Surrounded by shops, restaurants and bars, it’s popular with tourists and visitors to the city, while performances and demonstrations frequently take place by the monument.

Large, fast buses and small, distracted pedestrians don’t mix!

In favour of redevelopment

The biggest issue here is pedestrian safety, and it’s something we at Browell Smith & Co Solicitors feel very strongly about. Our personal injury team has dealt with far too many families whose lives have been changed forever by serious road injuries, either as pedestrians, drivers or passengers in cars.

That part of the city is a hotspot for pedestrian casualties. An elderly woman was tragically killed after she was hit by a bus close to this area, earlier in 2018. It is far from the first accident of its kind in this area – news articles going back for the past decade and beyond reveal a chain of incidents.

One person being killed or seriously injured on a road is one person too many, so we are in favour of measures to make the city be safer, cleaner and more welcoming for people on foot.

Here are the thoughts of shoppers who were asked about the proposals.

Against redevelopment?

There are arguments against the redevelopment that are certainly worth considering. It is one of the busiest parts of the city centre for bus passengers. It is claimed that eight million journeys start or end there each year: lots of these passengers are elderly, disabled or are families with young children.

Redevelopment would make access to the busiest part of the city centre more difficult for people in these groups. Bus operator Stagecoach is one group that is against the plans.

Furthermore, it would increase bus traffic on the routes around the edges of the city centre – around Haymarket, the station and Collingwood Street, which are already especially congested.

Which side are you on?

So, are you in favour of the redevelopment in the name of safety and cleanliness, or do you think it would prevent access to that part of the city for people who need it? We’d love to hear from you via our social media channels – follow us on Facebook here and Twitter here.


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