My letter to the Newcastle Journal – How NOT to get Clean Air

The Newcastle Council has just published details of its consultation on Clean Air. Promoting public transport, walking and cycling and restricting cars, they were consulting in a bubble of their own creation, ignoring everything outside it.

Coronovirus threatens to overwhelm the NHS. When it is now recognised that there are 125,000 cycling injuries a year, some fatal, it can’t make sense to promote more cycling with more cycling injuries to come while, Canute-like, trying to keep everyone else to 20mph. Our NHS can do without that.

Nissan makes more cars than in whole of Italy including the low-cost all electric Leaf, and on our doorstep. It can’t make sense to ignore the urgent need for fast chargers. The less well-off have no garage and line streets with their cars. Over one million Americans are within a 15-minute drive of a fast charger. We have scarcely any. They can buy a new electric car with 20 new models coming this year. We can’t.

Shops keep closing on the High Street with competition from Amazon and the Internet. When big stores close it reduces footfalls in smaller ones. Restricting car access doesn’t help. It should be the other way around. Fast chargers in multi-storey car parks and fastest way to get clean air more new electric cars, their drivers shopping while they charge. Much better than hoping for more cycling. And everybody wins.

The forthcoming £260m complex on the Gateshead Quayside with a new 12,500-seat arena, a conference and exhibition centre, hotels, and restaurants. This is hailed as one of the most exciting in the country is expected to open in 2023. It will sit alongside Sage Gateshead, home of Royal Northern Sinfonia. Single-lane vehicular access on Tyne Bridge is seriously suggested alongside bus/cycle lanes to achieve clear air when there are already long rush-hour tail backs with toxic fumes from slow-moving traffic on under-passes.

Also, outside their bubble the present wet and windy weather that along with the risk of cycling puts people off cycling altogether.

Isn’t it time their bubble burst?

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