Saturday, 22 June 2013

Estate on road to a better future... I don't think so

There was an article in the Shields gazette this week crowing that ward councillors had managed to obtain £50K to make the Holder House Estate in South Shields easier for drivers to navigate.

Residents apparently have been complaining about "vehicle access" and "lack of space to maneuver cars" on the estate. If you look at the estate on Google maps, you can see it's a relatively new estate, probably from the 70s/80s. The roads into the housing areas from the main access roads ringing the estate are dead ends, with lots of footpaths linking the roads.

View Larger Map
I had a quick tour up some of the roads (Fennel grove & Caraway walk) with the video running, and you can see the result below. It is quite boring though.

The only restrictions on vehicle access and maneuvering are ironically all the vehicles parked on the roads and pavements. Oh and the fact that the estate is a 20mph zone. I couldn't see any issue, and cannot see why the council are spending £50K.

Obesity and related conditions cost the authorities £50 million in South Tyneside alone. Nearly a third of the adult population in South Tyneside is obese. Worse still is the fact that 38% of children on South Tyneside are obese. Figures were taken from this article which makes grim reading

Instead of pandering to the whims and whines of the motorists, what the councillors and council NEEDS be do is enabling more cycling and walking on the estate, and links from it to other amenities across the borough, and discouraging and restricting vehicle use.

There is a public health issue here, and the council are effectively investing in making the problem worse. South Tyneside is a very car-centric area with low levels of cycling provision. What there is tends to be either shared paths or utterly abysmal. Below is the where the cycling provision takes over from the road by the Holder House estate, which is a small gap in the curb & a dirt bridleway

Below is a typical ST cycling link shared path (different estate) with no dropped kerb access.

Money needs to be spent on making the cycling infrastructure safe, convenient and easy and attractive to use. Education and "outreach" into the communities to get people on bikes is also very important.

Yes, there are some tough and unpopular decisions to be taken, but the councillors are elected to work for the good of the community and to better it. This is just short termism populist pandering which will have a far deeper negative impact on the community than making a handful of drivers slightly less miserable.

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