This week has been quite momentous for cities at either end of England.
On Thursday Boris got his cycling superhighways as he calls them approved by the Transport for London board and they'll now be built.
Before that, on Wednesday, Newcastle trumped that by announcing plans to convert John Dobson Street to a cycling street from it's current urban dual carriageway. This will rip up one side and replace with a 2 way cycle path, whilst the other side will be 2 way for traffic, mainly buses.
This is John Dobson street currently
And this is what it will look like once converted
It's a huge change and significant certainly for the North East if not the country.
Unlike London which has developed a large cycling share already, Newcastle hasn't to any large degree. I am hugely excited for both schemes, but particularly Newcastle
Boris calls his scheme "crossrail for bikes".
I prefer to think of both schemes as analogous to the start of the superfast broadband rollout across the UK.
Years ago, people using the internet at home (and often at work too) were enthusiasts and people interested in computers and technology for their own sake. The internet was accessed though slow dial up modems and only slightly quicker 1/2mb "broadband".
Normal people thought the internet was for geeks and freaks. "What would I use it for?" they'd shout.
Superfast broadband, and the advent of smartphones and tablets has changed all that.
All manner of people are now using the devices and the broadband for every thing from booking tickets, to shopping and banking. they're watching TV and movies streamed in real time and catchup.
Look at how services like Netflix have caught on. Superfast broadband made it possible and people just used it. A lot of the time it's less about the absolute speed but the convenience, and what is known as latency. Superfast Broadband removes a lot of the waiting and hanging around waiting for services to load.
These schemes in Newcastle and London (and elsewhere) are in the vanguard of super convenient cycling broadband with low latency as cycling traffic will be prioritised.
As an aside, latency is perhaps a good way of looking at and rating cycling infra. How long waiting at junctions & crossings? What's the congestion like with pedestrians etc? Because that's what slows people down and makes cycling unattractive in the UK when not on the road.
I expect that when these are built & start being used, people in the city centres will start using the and cycling in ways we haven't really seen in modern Britain until now.
Hopefully, then other authorities will look at them and see that the societies haven't crashed, that lots more have used them, and will want a piece of that for themselves.