Our journey a 20 year Transport Manifesto for the North East

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1 Our journey a 20 year Transport Manifesto for the North East Sustrans submission to North East Combined Authority (NECA). March 2016 Summary Sustrans is a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. Our response to this consultation focuses on enabling active travel and sustainable mobility. Our overarching recommendation is to focus further on sustainable and active travel. This will meet the NECA s environmental goals, enable greater physical activity whilst supporting local economic development. In particular we recommend the following: 1. To reframe the document from transport to travel to enable cycling and walking to fit into the themes outlined, and for the vision and guiding principles to encompass these forms of mobility. 2. To clarify how this document will lead to long-term SMART objectives for travel in the North East of England and the commitment to investment to make this happen. Introduction Sustrans welcomes the opportunity to comment on NECA s Our Journey manifesto. Sustrans is a leading UK charity enabling people to travel by foot, bike or public transport for more of the journeys we make every day. We work with families, communities, policy-makers and partner organisations so that people are able to choose healthier, cleaner and cheaper journeys, with better places and spaces to move through and live in. 1

2 We know that most journeys are less than 5 miles and NECA has a vital role to play in making (and encouraging) sustainable active travel a viable, attractive and safer alternative for most people on those shorter trips, our response to this consultation will focus on enabling active and sustainable travel by walking, cycling and public transport. Vision and guiding principles Framing In fact the initial framing of the document is too focused on transport (in its title, vision and guiding principles). We would suggest amending the focus away from transport to travel to encompass cycling and walking as solutions alongside public transport. The look and feel of the document is crucial to the overall message. Photos used in Our Journey (pages 1-8) appear to focus largely on public transport. We would like to see a heavier reliance on images showing other forms of travel, especially cycling and walking. Vision Sustrans welcomes the vision and guiding principles of Our Journey although we feel both could be improved upon. Four visions are suggested for transport in the North East if it the manifesto is to be successful. We broadly agree on these themes although feel they miss out one vital area. We suggest adding a fifth theme in the Vision presented (page 6) to ensure travel in the North East is sustainable and resilient. This is critical and whilst we welcome the page focusing on Sustainable Travel we would prefer to see this embedded on the front page, overarching vision and guiding principles. Some of the existing text focuses too much on public transport, for example many people cycle or walking to work because it is reliable for them, or if the North East wants cycling to be a common form of travel it needs to invest in the necessary infrastructure and programmes to make cycling easier to use with a greater perception of safety. Guiding principles We broadly agree with the guiding principles although it would be useful to see how these guiding principles actually affect decisions and support for different modes of travel. Although the mapping used throughout the document is useful we feel that it would be far more meaningful if transport links were identified (road, rail, cycle network, airport, port) together with interchanges. 2

3 Comments on different types of travel and transport Walking and cycling Sustrans welcomes the sections on walking and cycling. We would make the following recommendations: The image within the walking section shows a white male with a child in the countryside. It suggests a leisure walk rather than illustrating walking as a mode for active travel. The document makes reference to building transport around common standards which we fully endorse. We suggest however that differing walking/cycling design standards are currently used in the NECA catchment area which has a considerable impact on the quality of any development. Sustrans recommend a hierarchical approach to new developments following, our design standards are found here and can be a useful benchmark. 1 There is no mention of separated cycle infrastructure which is critical for improving safety and encouraging people to begin cycling. In our recent Bike Life Survey 2 for example over 79% of people would like to see people out and about on bikes. Yet only 53% of people think Newcastle is a good place to ride a bike, and only 38% felt safety was good or very good. The cycling section does not mention spatial planning or housing growth and the need to design-in cycling and build where it is possible to walk and cycle to reach employment, services etc. Taxi s Whilst we understand that Taxi s are a form of car sharing and enable people to travel without buying a car, we believe suggestions that Taxi travel is 'sustainable is misleading. For example there is no evidence of taxis reducing short trips or reducing carbon or particulate pollution. Taxis are not a healthy way of travelling short distances both in terms of the health of the individual or the environment. Finally taxis regularly carry one person and make multiple journeys to cover their 'fare.' We would suggest a statement to discourage single occupancy car trips for short distances which can be made by bike or on foot. Roads fit for purpose We support the NECA in their recommendation to reallocate road space to more sustainable forms of transport. Sustrans recommends focusing away from road expansion as this leads to induced demand and works against the vision and guiding principles of Our Journey, i.e. to provide affordable, attractive, reliable, safe, healthy and sustainable choices for the North East. The NECA 1 Sustrans, Design Manuel 2 Sustrans, Bike Life Newcastle. 3

4 should focus on improving local journeys in all urban areas but foot, bike or bus that creates behavioural change away from cars as we are beginning to see in some UK cities. We are aware that some of the road schemes listed will be built by Highways England and Transport for the North. Both these agencies should focus more on public transport and the improvement of rail and bus links between cities. A continual expansion of the strategic road network will make it harder to reach our goals under the Climate Change Act and pushes and increasing problem down the line, where it will also be even more of a challenge. Joining it all together Very little mention of transport integration was noticed throughout the document, cycling and walking can be a highly efficient, important connector to public transport infrastructure especially within the rail/bus network. We would suggest cycling and walking audits to all stations and transport interchanges together with additional secure cycle parking and last mile signage to all stations. Together with additional secure cycle parking we feel that electric cycle/car charging points should be encouraged. We would also recommend the integration of local plans and local transport plans to ensure housing and business growth should always work alongside travel needs, thus enabling active travel and public transport to play a more strategic role. We suggest that planning should be mentioned within the document which should include high-quality open spaces, linear parks and shared spaces to encourage streets to become destinations rather than thoroughfares. This will promote sustainable economic development with local businesses and communities over the longterm. The infrastructure within the development itself is important but additionally the location should be carefully considered. The document talks about roads fit for purpose (page 21). The text suggests that NECA would support extension and expansion of the road system and to consider further proposals if they are consistent with carbon reduction. We would suggest that the majority of road expansions schemes should not be supported by this manifesto if the aims are to provide affordable, attractive, reliable, safe, healthy and sustainable choices for the North East. If road schemes are to continue to be supported we would suggest a fundamental change in policy in order to consider traffic control and road space reallocation as part of an overall vision to encourage sustainable transport. It is clear to Sustrans that central funding for regional schemes (especially sustainable ones) are reducing, we would ask that this document is used to encourage local funding for active, healthy and sustainable travel. 4

5 Objectives, funding and evaluation Whilst we acknowledge this document is a manifesto or a vision for the NECA is it unclear as to how it will inform a long-term strategy for the region. The vision or ambition presented does not include any real tangible goals and it is hard to see how it would be assessed in 20 years time. We recommend setting out in this manifesto what the NECA will do to bring this vision to life. It should explain what it intends to change, how this will be funded and how it will be evaluated. The national Government s soon to be published Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy (CWIS), for example, should include a national target to double cycling and increase walking levels. A Statement of funds for the next five years underpins this and a number of tests will enable stakeholders to account for success. It is imperative that the NECA builds in long-term objectives for the North East and commits funding to sustainable travel initiatives that underpin these objectives. Finally it is clear to Sustrans that central funding for local travel is reducing and there is a widening gap between local sustainable travel and large transport infrastructure projects. If NECA is to enable this manifesto it must not rely upon central government in the future but unlock local funding for active, healthy and sustainable travel. Contact Details Neil Mitchell Sustrans Higham House Higham Place Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 8AF Tel: Sustrans February 2016 Registered Charity No (England and Wales) SC (Scotland) VAT Registration No

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