Mobike exits Gosforth and High West Jesmond

The cycle-sharing scheme Mobike UK has cut Gosforth and High West Jesmond from its operating area in Newcastle.

The announcement of the reduced operating area in Newcastle came in September 2018.

Users of the mobile app were presented with a new map of the operating area when they logged in on their smartphones.

Image courtesy Evening Chronicle (from a Mobike UK handout – September 2018) “Mobike is reducing the size of the designated cycling area in Newcastle and Gateshead. The blue line was when we first launched; the light grey area was where we expanded; the darker area is the ‘new’ operating area.”

Mobike UK launced with a fanfare in October 2017.

Having expanded the initial area of operating in February 2018 to include High West Jesmond, Gosforth and other areas in the north of Newcastle upon Tyne, the latest change severly restricts the operational area in the city.

Read our Feb 2018 article: Mobike extends to High West Jesmond & Gosforth

Mobike previously expanded to Gosforth & High West Jesmond

Mobike UK itself issued a blog posting in Feb 2018 promoting its expansion in Newcastle noting that it was:

“expanding its successful scheme in Newcastle to respond to increasing demand from the city and its residents.”

“The expansion follows discussions between Mobike, local authorities and councils. Newcastle has made significant investment in cycling infrastructure in recent years, thanks to it becoming one of the UK’s eight ‘Cycle Cities’ and its ambition to support sustainable travel. New cycle lanes and routes, both inside and out of the city centre, make Newcastle a perfect Mobike city.”

Now High West Jesmond & Gosforth are cut out from cycle scheme

Removing High West Jesmond and Gosforth means that residents can no longer take advantage of bikes in their local area.

At one point the cycle racks at the Ilford Road Metro station (platform towards the coast and airport) regularly had the distinctive orange Mobikes available, as illustrated in the photo below from 2 August 2018. 

Mobikes parked at Ilford Road Metro station on 2 August 2018

However, despite the fine weather, for much of the school summer holidays there were no orange Mobikes available at all at Ilford Road Metro station – the picture on 4 August 2018 illustrates the lack of bikes.

All gone – even before the official announcement of the exclusion of High West Jesmond from the cycle-sharing scheme, there were no Mobikes at Ilford Road Metro station on 4 August 2018

Our Twitter account @highwestjesmond notified Mobike UK of the lack of bikes at Ilford Ropad Metro station on 4 August 2018 and we received a reply that stated “thanks for letting us know – we will get bikes back to this area soon”.

Mobike UK responds on 6 August to previous tweet from @highwestjesmond notring lack of bikes on 4 August 2018

The shrinkage in the operating area in Newcastle in Sept 2018 follows a decision by Mobike UK to withdraw completely from Manchester.

 

Blue House recommendations slide deck available

Current view of Blue House Roundabout, High West Jesmond – from Google Maps

The Blue House Working Group recently made recommendations to Newcastle City Council about the Blue House Roundabout and a public meeting was arranged on 12 March 2018 so that local residents could hear more from the working group.

Download the BHWG presentation

The full 52 page pdf slide deck used for the 12 March 2018 presentation has now become available and has been placed on the Blue House Working Group website here – Blue House Working Group 12 March 2018 presentation

Read more about the 12 March 2018 in our short article on this website Meeting hears recommendations from Blue House Working Group

Meeting hears recommendations from Blue House Working Group

The Blue House Working Group recently made recommendations to Newcastle City Council about the Blue House Roundabout and a public meeting was arranged on 12 March 2018 so that local residents could hear more from the working group.

John Dales, Independent Chair of Blue House Working Group, invited local residents and other stakeholders to a meeting to find out more about the Group’s recommendations about the Blue House junction and the principles that underpin them.

Residents filled the senior school hall at Newcastle School for Boys – photo courtesy Katie Dickinson from Twitter @KatieJDickinson

There was a packed room in the senior school hall at Newcastle School for Boys on The Grove, Gosforth for the meeting which started at 6.30pm.

John Dales introduced the proposals and other members of the Working Group explained how they had been involved with the process of developing the recommendations.

The meeting also provided an opportunity for some questions from the audience, which were responded to by members of the Blue House Working Group and a representative from Newcastle City Council, Graham Grant who is Head of Transport Investment with the Council.

Representatives at the meeting

A number of community groups were represented at the meeting who spoke including:

  • Nick Moore, Chair, High West Jesmond Residents Association
  • Veronica Stoner, Chair, West Gosforth Residents Association
  • Tony Waterson, Chair, Jesmond Residents Association
  • Peter MacDonald, Space for Gosforth
  • Sally Watson, Newcastle Cycling Campaign
  • Andrew Lambert, Gosforth Traffic

Speakers also included two of our local councillors:

  • Stella Postlethwaite, Cllr North Jesmond (Lab)
  • Nick Cott, Cllr West Gosforth (Lib Dem)

Recommendations made to the Council

Current view of Blue House Roundabout, High West Jesmond – from Google Maps

John Dales explained that the working group had made recommendations to the Council.

It was noted that traffic flows at the Blue House Roundabout in 2016 were 10% lower than they had been in 2008 and that this equated to approximately 400 less peak hour vehicles.

Drawing A – proposed by the Blue House Working Group

Drawing A sets out the scope of change recommended at the Blue House junction in the immediate future. This involves limited work.

Drawing B – proposed by the Blue House Working Group

Drawing B sets out how this could be further built upon in the future to increase traffic capacity if this was required. This is more major work, a bigger roundabout and demolition of the Blue House itself.

Download the BHWG presentation

You can download the 52 page pdf slide deck used for the 12 March 2018 presentation here – Blue House Working Group 12 March 2018 presentation

You can read more about the recommendations from the Blue House Working Group here – Blue House Working Group makes recommendations

Council not able to respond to recommendations before purdah starts

The audience was interested in knowing what the next steps would be and when Newcastle City Council would respond to the recommendations it had received from the Blue House Working Group. And when Newcastle City Council would publish its revised plans for the roundabout.

Graham Grant, Head of Transport Investment at Newcastle City Council said that Newcastle City Council would not be able to respond within the next two weeks and then, after 27 March 2018, the ‘purdah’ rules on the run up to the local government elections on 3 May 2018 would prevent the council from making an announcement until after the elections.

This means that local residents will not know the council plans as they go to the polls to elect their local councillors.

Following changes to the ward boundaries in Newcastle upon Tyne the local government election on 3 May will be an ‘all-out’ election with every seat being contested at the same time, rather than the normal third of the seats being up for election. All 78 seats will be up for re-election with electors voting for up to 3 candidates.

Residents were shown recommendation Drawing A – for potential development at Blue House Roundabout – photo courtesy Oliver Ross Assogna from Twitter @OliverR_Assogna

Council to undertake work

Graham Grant explained that the council was undertaking work following receipt of the recommendations from the Blue House Working Group.

He also noted that the council was keen to keep the Blue House Working Group involved as the council develops its plans.

Graham announced that the council’s work would include:

  • Reviewing detailed plans;
  • undertaking a ‘micro simulation’ model;
  • undertaking modelling using air quality software;
  • sharing the results of work with the Blue House Working Group;
  • discussing matters with the Stewards’ Committee of the Freeman of the City of Newcastle;
  • discussing with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (North East LEP) how criteria for funding can be used; and
  • considering the impact of changes in the public’s travel behaviour.

Graham Grant also committed that representatives from the Blue House Working Group would be invited to meetings with both the North East LEP and the Steward’s Committee.

Questions from audience

Following questions from the audience about openness and transparency, Graham Grant also noted that he was more than happy to give access to the council’s modelling information so that those who were interested would have the opportunity to study the details.

A member of the Blue House Working Group noted that they had challenged some of the outputs from earlier data models as not making sense and when the Council reviewed these again different results were obtained.  John Dales acknowledged that traffic models were always challenging.

Another audience member asked why comments/questions previously left on the Blue House Working Group website had not been responded as not responding did not fulfil the definition of engagement. 

Whilst the Blue House Working Group website had been set up by Newcastle City Council and Open Labs at Newcastle University, a volunteer member of the Blue House Working Group offered an apology that the resources had not been deployed to respond to comments that had been left.

Going forwards, anyone who wishes to receive future updates from the council was asked to leave their email address with Ali Lamb. The council plans to send an update email within the next 2 weeks.

As well as local residents and stakeholders the meeting was also attended by reporters from the Newcastle Chronicle and Jesmond Local. The meeting closed at 8.30pm.

Background reading

 
You can read more about the recommendations from the Blue House Working Group here – Blue House Working Group makes recommendations
 
You can read the response from Newcastle City Council here – Council welcomes residents input into Blue House junction proposals

Mobike extends to High West Jesmond & Gosforth

Mobike now has a dedicated parking area at Ilford Road metro station, High West Jesmond (by platform 2 northbound)

Mobike, which started operating in Newcastle on 16 October 2017 has recently extended its operating area and this now includes High West Jesmond and Gosforth.

This means that residents will now be able to download the app and use Mobike’s high tech silver and orange iconic bikes from their local neighbourhood and in a much wider area across Newcastle, as shown in the map below.

The Mobike extended operating area in Newcastle – the blue line represents the extended operating area which now includes High West Jesmond, Gosforth and other areas in the north of the city

The new operating area has been extended northwards beyond the original limit of the A189 Jesmond Dene Road to include much of the north of the city.

To use Mobike you need to download the Mobike app and pay a deposit. Riders will be charged 50p for 30 minutes.

The Mobike app will guide users towards the best locations to pick up and park the bikes.

Ilford Road metro station (platform 2 northbound) is a Mobike parking spot shown on the app.

More information about Mobike

Watch Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet member for transport and air quality at Newcastle City Council talk about Mobike in this short video from YouTube:

You can find out more about Mobike on their website at mobike.com

You can download the Mobike App from the Apple App Store or Google Play – see bit.ly/MobikeMovement

Read Mobike launches its bike sharing platform in Newcastle.

New SPACE for Jesmond group

SPACE for Gosforth is extending into the Jesmond area under the name SPACE for Jesmond.

As High West Jesmond sits between Gosforth and Jesmond then residents may be interested in knowing about or joining this group.

SPACE stands for “safe pedestrian and cycling environment”.

The Jesmond group will provide a forum for residents interested in making Jesmond better for walking, cycling and street play, as well as monitoring air quality in the area.

The group aims to carry on work done as part of the Streets For People consultation and promote the benefits of investing in people friendly spaces in Jesmond.

The work will likely include:

  • Liaising with Newcastle City Council and Ward Councillors
  • Flagging up safety issues for people on foot or bike
  • Addressing rat running and speeding in Jesmond
  • Engaging with consultations and council forums
  • Working towards a better Jesmond for children
  • Promoting active and sustainable travel in the area, including school travel
    Managing on-line accounts on Twitter and Facebook
  • Publishing material on www.spaceforjesmond.com

If you’d like to receive information from the group, or are interested in taking a more active role, then you can get in touch with SPACE for Jesmond via one of the following methods:

email: spaceforjesmond@gmail.com
twitter: @SPACEforJesmond
facebook: PENDING

Killingworth Road re-opening delayed by gas works

Newcastle City Council are advising motorists of a delay to the re-opening of Killingworth Road (A189) in Gosforth due to over-running gas diversion works.

The following news release has been issued by Newcastle City Council:

Dealys to gas diversion works at Killingworth Road, Newcastle

Essential gas works are currently taking place by Northern Gas Networks to divert three gas mains away from the section of carriageway due for improvement as part of the council’s multi-million road improvement scheme.

Due to unforeseen complications during this phase, the council say this part of the project is facing a 12-week delay and the road will now re-open in June.

This is due to two separate discoveries of asbestos and also the condition of an existing high pressure water pipe which also needed to be moved before the gas diversion works could continue.

Andy Coyne, project manager for Northern Gas Networks (NGN) said: “Moving three major gas pipes, whilst keeping the gas supplies running to the 35,000 homes and businesses they feed – especially during this cold snap – was always a challenging and complex task and was scheduled to take 27 weeks.

“This was made all the more testing by the discovery of asbestos at two points in the works which had to be safely removed due to the health dangers it presents, as well as working with Northumbrian Water to divert a water main due to the condition and integrity of the main when fully exposed within our excavations.

“These unavoidable issues have had an impact on our project timeline, but we have been working closely with the council to see how we can recover lost time on the project and keep the delay to a minimum. We apologise for any inconvenience.”

Over £13.5m is being invested into this well-known pinch-point on the network, which has seen the installation of a new Metro bridge and will see a road-widening scheme to include an additional bus lane, and widened pavements along with more space for vehicles.

The gas industry has very tight restrictions on where pipes can be sited near pavements and roads. As the council are building a new wall and road where the gas pipes are currently located, they need to be diverted before construction on the new carriageway can begin.

Cllr Arlene Ainsley, Cabinet Member for Transport and Air Quality:The Killingworth Road scheme was progressing well until asbestos was detected underground. Asbestos is a toxic substance which had to be carefully removed before the gas works could safely continue.

“Then there was the issue with a major water pipe which needed to be relocated due to health and safety reasons,which also had to be rectified. Unfortunately these issues have impacted on NGN’s schedule and we are looking at a 12-week delay to the re-opening of the road.

“Although the delay is regrettable, impacting on commuters and construction costs, they are not unusual when it comes to digging up roads. Under our roads there are a labyrinth of utility pipes and old infrastructure which can raise unexpected issues, which has happened in this case.

“We would like to reassure everyone that we are doing everything we can to open the road as soon as possible. We apologise for the extended inconvenience to commuters and everyone affected and we are committed to allowing traffic on Killingworth Road as soon as it is safe to do so, once the gas works are finished.”

The council say the road needs to remain closed until the gas works are fully complete. This is due to NGN creating a series of bypass pipes to re-route the gas whilst they excavate and install new pipes. As the new connector pipes are temporary, they will remain over ground, so the area needs to be secured away from the public. The road can only re-open once all the pipe works are complete and buried underground.

Once this phase of gas works is complete and traffic is using Killingworth Road, the council will then start the road widening scheme but this has been carefully phased to minimise impact on commuters. This highways widening scheme is scheduled to last until December 2018.

Once complete the scheme will reduce congestion, improve air quality, reduce journey times, improve public transport reliability and improve safety for people on foot and bikes to one of the busiest commuter routes into Newcastle.

The above news release was issued by Newcastle City Council and included on the Newcastle City Council website. It has been included here for information and does not necessarily represent the views of High West Jesmond Residents’ Association.