Responses to Consultations.

TVMTBC responses to a range of consultations on all aspects of cycling in the North East of England

Proposed A1 Improvements in Northumberland

This is the response of the Northumberland Joint Local Access Forum (NJLAF) also on behalf of Tyne Valley MTB Cycling and OpenMTB (speaking regionally on behalf of mountain biking nationally).

Written by Ted Liddle | Published: 22nd December 2016

General

Many aspects of the proposed scheme are commendable and will be supported by NJLAF especially the consultative approach taken from the outset. In particular we have responded to your preferred options request at the bottom of page 2. 

In regard to the two documents Morpeth to Ellingham and North of Ellingham, we wish to raise the following issues….. 

We have recently conducted surveys to gather pedestrian, cyclist and horse usage data. We will review this data to identify locations for improvements.

Local representatives for walking, cycling and horse riding in Northumberland sit of NJLAF and we all work together. We would very much welcome an opportunity to specifically meet with Highways England to discuss our points of view and any concerns. We are sceptical that any usage data will be much use as it will reveal very little suppressed latent demand due to its invisibility.  

The points listed are all valid but there is no mention of the ‘barrier’ effect on VRUs – the danger and often impossibility to cross the A1 easily, safely at many actual and potential crossing points or to pass over or under it where VRUs would like to. 

We’re designing this improvement scheme to deliver benefits for road users and local communities, and to support the region’s economy. This package of improvements is expected to: Improve safety by improving the standard of the road; and reduce delays associated with planned and unplanned incidents.

Valuing the tourism factor, its impact and effects are much appreciated. 

The use of the word ‘incidents’ is applauded and not the ubiquitous ‘accidents’ which the police and other rescue services stopped using some time ago. Inconsistently, ‘accidents’ is used on Pages 8 and 11 of the North of Ellingham document.

We have also carried out extensive surveys of pedestrian, cyclist and horse rider traffic using the rights of way and side roads intersecting the A1 in the vicinity of the proposed works. These will help us gauge the effects of the options on vulnerable users and design facilities for them.

We note the paragraph above is absent from the Morpeth to Ellingham report.  To this we repeat our concern outlined for page 4. It is most unlikely HE has surveyed ‘desired’ crossing points.  

Part 3: North of Ellingham enhancement options – the importance of tourism is recognised and valued on Page 6 of the Morpeth to Ellingham document but it needs to be expressed wherever and whenever it is apposite to do so. 


 

Orange / Page 9: Highlaws Junction

This junction is very important for cyclists as it leads to / from an acceptably safe crossing point of the A697. Please ensure this will be a suitably safe grade-separated crossing point for cyclists.

Earsdon Junction 

This junction is very important for cyclists as it leads to / from an acceptably safe crossing point of the A697. Please ensure this will be a suitably safe grade-separated crossing point for cyclists.

Felmoor Park / Helm 

The old road between the BOAT to Eshottheugh and Helm is used by walkers and mountain bikers. The latter user group use it as part of a recognised soon-to- be published loop. NB: A small working party of MTBers has been keeping this route cut back for use for a number of years. Please ensure this route remains safe and pleasant for VRUs to continue using.

Westmoor Junction 

This junction is important for cyclists as it leads to / from an acceptably safe crossing point of the A697. Please ensure this will be a suitably safe grade-separated crossing point for cyclists.

Footbridge at Causey Park

This would be welcomed – please ensure wheeling ramps for cycles are included.

Parkwood underpass – not identified

This must be either tarmac or concrete (less slippy for horses) and connect to RoW and minor roads that are suitable for cycling. 

RECOMMENDATION

We much prefer the green option for all the reasons provided by HE but also because VRUs have a degree of improved benefit and the impact on residents is reduced. Retaining a narrowed old A1 would be welcomed.

Felton to Alnwick

This existing length of dual carriageway has severed the identified Rights 0f Way and minor roads which means walkers, horse riders and cyclists have been at best seriously disadvantaged and at worst, banished from  crossing the A1 at these locations. Whilst their right to cross has not been removed, their ability to cross safely has been removed. 

Red dash = Footpath
Blue dash = Bridleway
Blue cross = minor road crossing
 
QUESTION:
What can HE do to re-introduce selected crossing points for VRUs between Felton and Alnwick?
 
The JLAF would like a written response to this question.
 

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Six RoW are referred to on page 18 suggesting RoW would be diverted to suitable crossing points. The JLAF would be a required consultee for this process and will wait until then before commenting further. 

We very much welcome this on the basis it is for all VRUs.

This footpath – ideally upgraded to Bridleway – would be a suitable location for a bridle bridge taking best advantage of the adjacent cutting sides for support.

A grade separated crossing at South Charlton would be welcomed.  

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OTHER  CROSSINGS for which there is latent demand 

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North of Ellingham 

It is important that the NCN Route 1 (Coast & Castles Cycle Route) at the junction of Cragmill Road and the A1 isn’t compromised by the proposed change of lane length.

We would like to propose a new grade separated bridle bridge is constructed at the shown location for the benefit of VRUs to link the west of the A1 with the coastline and bridleways to the east of the A1. Benefitting local people and visitors, this will hugely improve a promoted cycle route loop which currently relies on the barely satisfactory at-grade crossing for the BOAT. The A1 passes through a cutting at this point which should reduce the construction cost considerably.

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A new staggered crossing point at the Fenwick road end must factor in walkers and cyclists for whom it is the main access routed to the coast and RoW to the east of the A1 . It is the Northumberland Coast Path, St Cuthbert’s Way and St Oswald’s Way as well the North Sea Coast Path which cannot be ignored. 

HE importance of these three junctions for cyclists cannot be over-estimated – particularly Cheswick and West Mains. 

UPPER: Wooler road: It is assumed you mean the B6525 at GR NU 011 400. 

This crossing point must be safe for VRUs. There is a latent demand from road cyclists for a good quality tarmac link between this junction and the Scremerston road end along the east side of the A1 where currently there is a poor quality footway. 

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The huge importance for cyclists at this junction along with its offset neighbour HAS been totally overlooked. This was pointed out at the first consultation meeting but the fact this was ignored is not just worrying, it gives us considerable concern that Highway England’s words of awareness for VRUs leaves is not all it seems.

The improvement below is 100% for vehicles and ignores the fact it has been pointed out this junction combined with a close by offset junction is critical for the well being of cyclists in this part of Northumberland. These two offset junctions provide the ONLY possible means for road cyclists to cross the A1 in relative safety. 

This long-desired crossing point has in the past been temporarily used by the popular NCN Route 1 (Coast & Castles Cycle Route) when the off-road coastal route was unavailable for a lengthy period. It is currently marked with a warning symbol on the new Northumberland Cycle Routes map and an improved crossing point for cyclists at this location is fully supported by the Northumberland Coast AONB.

It is very much part of the Northumberland Cycle Tourism Group’s plans to promote  the coast route as part of the Cycle Tour of Northumberland for road bikes as the coast route is only suitable for off-road cycles. 

The recommendation to provide a safer crossing point at Cheswick Buildings is in the Recreational and Cycle Tourism in Northumberland Report (2013) commissioned by Northumberland Tourism which has been adopted by Northumberland County Council. 

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A1 by Cheswick Buildings - proposed verge path to link two off-set minor roads

View north... 

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View south...

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This county encompassing cycle route cannot be promoted for road bikes until there is safer crossing point of the A1 at Cheswick Buildings.

Until it is place, NCN Route 1 (Coast & Castles Cycle Route) cannot be promoted to road cyclists. 

ADDITIONAL DEMAND for cyclists 

Improved routes to / from Cheswick to cross the A1 opposite the Cat Inn thereby linking two off set minor roads to the north of Cheswick Buildings.

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This location is pivotal to cycling in that it already provides an acceptably safe crossing point of the A1 for NCN Route 1 (Coast & Castles Cycle Route) and the popular Sandstone Way route for mountain bikes – see www.sandstoneway.co.uk for more information.

The Lindisfarne Inn is set up as a cycle-friendly hotel as both cycle routes pass its door and use the access road to the fuel station to / from the island-protected crossing point. 

It is very disappointing the drawing below fails to recognise the importance of these two major cycle route s which bring significant economic impact to en route businesses. This is sending out the message Highways England are only concerned about vehicles and words referring to VRUs are token. This over simplified drawing fails to represent all that is happening in this location.

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Currently, it is only possible to use the at-grade cycle crossing point to the south of the fuel station which can be compromised by vehicles using, or having used, the fuel station. This needs to be addressed as cycling will only become more popular.

There is no acceptably safe direct crossing for cyclists but there is a latent demand for one. We recommend the construction of a tarmac path behind the existing hedge to provide this missing link and thereby optimise use of the existing crossing point.

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The Bridgemill crossing point has latent demand by walkers and potentially by horse riders. Please consult Sue Rogers (BHS) for confirmation.

Cycling visitors on holiday at Haggerston Castle do cross the A1 immediately opposite the main entrance; more would do so if this crossing point was made safer.

The footway between West Mains and Haggerston is used by pedestrians and cyclists – this needs protecting and improving. 

 

Additional recommendations

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An opportunity to address?

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The Ord Mains Farm Accommodation Bridge at East Ord was only made legal for use on foot which was a MAJOR oversight as currently over a distance of 42.2 miles in Northumberland; it is the only grade-separated crossing of the A1. If a grade-separated crossing is constructed as requested near Detchant this will be reduced to 26.6 miles which is still VERY poor provision for VRUs.

The Letham Shank Accommodation Bridge would have been built at the same time as Ord Mains and the Brockdam / Wandylaw underpass. Despite being very easy to do with nil impact on Letham Shank Farm, there was no provision at all made for VRUs. A short field edge path would solve this. 

Brockdam / Wandylaw underpass should be made available for use by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. 

END