Creating safe space in Gateshead
Social distancing measures in Gateshead local centres are funded by the European Regional Development Fund, through the Reopening High Streets Safely fund.
Following the Covid-19 outbreak the government have introduced guidelines requiring people to maintain social distancing.
Government have asked that all local authorities make temporary changes to ensure social distancing is carried out.
As a result, we are proposing to introduce quick and flexible changes to shopping areas to:
enable social distancing to be observed
support the recovery of the borough and safe reopening of businesses
The temporary changes include:
one-way traffic routes to ensure there is enough space for shoppers to queue and for others to pass safely
suspension of kerbside parking
removal of parking and loading bays
narrowing of streets
space for walking
Normally before a change to the highway is implemented it can take up to a year of consultation. As we have to act quickly, we are introducing these changes under emergency legislation and using experimental orders. This enables changes to be put in place quickly and then consulted on and changed over time.
We know we won't have got everything right first time and have changed some schemes already based on feedback we have received. We need your views on what should be altered and changed. This is about supporting local business to operate as best we can while maintaining social distancing.
|Area||Changes||Plans||Date the changes will be introduced|
|Birtley||Removal of on-street parking and loading bays on Durham Road to accommodate increased pedestrian space.||Complete|
|Coatsworth Road||Coatsworth Road to become one way (northbound only) other than buses with narrowing of carriageway with passing places to provide increased pedestrian space.||Week commencing 11 January|
|Durham Road, Low Fell|
Removal of on street parking places to allow for safe social distancing measures to be introduced..
|Jackson Street||Closed to general traffic, with footways widened.||Complete|
|Lowrey's Lane Car Park, Low Fell||Introduction of additional disable blue badge parking places to the lower section of the car park||Complete|
|Pelaw||Removal of on-street parking on Shields Road (opposite Aldi) to accommodate increased pedestrian space.||Complete|
|Whickham||Removal of some on-street parking on Front Street to accommodate increased pedestrian space.||Complete|
|Winlaton||One way system on Front Street west of Branch Street. Removal of on-street parking to accommodate increased pedestrian space.||Complete|
|Wrekenton||Narrowing of northern end of High Street to accommodate additional pedestrian space.||Complete|
The guidance includes detailed guidance on how we should redesign retail areas to maintain social distance, and encourage walking and cycling. We've acted as quickly as we can to develop schemes which follow that design guidance.
We have had to assess what space is available to allow people to pass and queue safely while maintaining social distancing in our retail centres. We are living through a public health emergency and shopping is likely to be a very different experience for many months to come. We hope by making changes people will be able to shop as safely as possible.
We've looked at all the retail centres across the borough and where we know there has, or is likely to be, issues with queueing and enough space to pass. We've come up with different approaches for each centre based on what we have observed and the guidance we have from government. In some locations we don't think we need to do anything, but in some busy areas where there are narrow shop fronts, longer queues and narrow pavements we do. We also want to encourage people to continue cycling and walking and deter car use wherever possible. We are having to widen pavements to ensure there is:
- space for people to queue
- space for people to pass without having to walk in the road, negotiate parked cars or moving traffic
- space for people with pushchairs or wheelchairs
- sufficient space so that people don't have to reduce their social distance
We need to make these changes so business are able to reopen safely. If we don't make changes, there is a risk that social distance won't be maintained, the infection rate will spike and we may then need to close businesses down with a local lockdown, and that's something we would like to avoid. We want people to feel safe enough to shop while still reducing the risk of a second spike. Some of our changes may seem radical, but we need to put health and safety first and try to balance that with economic recovery.
If people feel safe and know social distancing is being managed properly they are more likely to support local shops. We are launching a 'shop local' campaign to encourage this. In many instances those that visit local shops live locally and we want to help and encourage them to walk and cycle where possible. Recent studies have shown that encouraging cycling and walking in centres can lead to an increase in shop takings as users are more inclined to stay longer and use more shops.
Wherever possible, we have provided alternative loading bays for shops to get deliveries. However, in some instances businesses may need to use alternative parking to load and unload, or use rear access if they have it. It is really important that business and their customers do not park on pavements to load and unload.
All of the centres we are making changes to have off-street car parks. We will keep the schemes under review and take action if necessary to stop parking in residential areas.
If you have a pub, restaurant or cafe and would like to use the pavement outside your premises for extra seating, we have a quick pavement licence process. If you are interested in using any outdoor space please visit our pavement licences page for more information.
The changes we are making will be funded by additional money from the government.
Walking and cycling
Cycling and walking has increased in popularity since March and may still be the best way of getting around, as there will only be limited capacity on public transport. We want to encourage this healthier and greener way to get about Gateshead more as we also look to continue to reduce our carbon emissions. Getting people moving safely will also support economic recovery at a local level.
You can nominate streets that would benefit from more space for safe travelling and shopping, using the Widen my path website.
The website allows anyone to put forward a location where more space or improvements for walking or cycling are needed.
The ideas submitted will help the council prioritise where further improvements are needed. Visit Widen my path to make a nomination, or to view ideas already under consideration.
Changes to cycling facilities
People are thinking more about their health and the environment. We already knew we had to do something about dangerous levels of air pollution from traffic in central Gateshead.
We have undertaken a survey of cycle and walking routes in Gateshead and compiled a list of improvements. We will be designating temporary cycle lanes using barriers, bollards and stencils, though we may make these more permanent if it makes sense to do so.
We are making some of these improvements quickly to make it easy for people to cycle and walk to shopping centres. We're keen to gain views on what else we should do. We won't be able to do everything, but we know there is going to be more funding available in the longer term.
Some of the changes we are making include:
- turning the part of Askew Road nearest the Tyne Bridge into a cycle and bus lane
- re-routing traffic around the urban core
In order to deal with reductions in capacity on the Tyne Bridge as a result of air quality compliance, we also may need to:
- close the top part of the flyover creating a dedicated cycleway to Newcastle
- reduce the number of roads and amount of traffic on the Tyne Bridge approach and improve cycle routes
However, we have decided not to test this out currently in the face of public concern that we were doing too much too quickly.
The roadworks should be complete by the end of September, however more permanent schemes to comply with current air quality deadlines mean a more permanent solution needs to be in place by the end of the year.
To find out more about the changes we are making, visit our changes to road layouts in Gateshead town centre page.
But this isn't just about cycle lanes. We now have an app that gives you information on cycling in Gateshead and ties in with offers from local business to make it as easy as possible to cycle and walk. Visit www.lovetoride.net/gateshead for more information.
We are also running a bike amnesty, so any old bikes you no longer use can be donated to those who would like to take up cycling, and we are providing the opportunity for small businesses to get free bike stands installed. Visit our advice for businesses page for more information.