Screenshot from the City Council YouTube recording. Councillor Kemp is responding. Words on screen say "have had eight collisions on Gosforth High Street since the introduction of the bus" lane

Gosforth High Street discussed at City Council

Screenshot from the City Council YouTube recording. Councillor Kemp is responding. Words on screen say "have had eight collisions on Gosforth High Street since the introduction of the bus" lane

Councillor Kemp responds

At the 12 June 2024 City Council meeting, Councillor Woodwark (Lib Dems, Gosforth Ward) asked a question about injuries recorded on Gosforth High Street since the Council’s bus lane trial was installed.

Item 7: Oral question 2 to Councillor Williams from Councillor Woodwark

Accident data from the North East Road Users Casualty Dashboard indicates that in the last year, pedestrian accidents have increased nearly threefold on Gosforth High Street, compared to the average across the past decade, since the new bus lanes were introduced.

Given that the Council’s policy on transport and travel is clearly in flux, given U-turns on a range of schemes across the City, does the Cabinet member believe that the policy for Gosforth High Street should similarly be reviewed in light of the concerning trend of increasing pedestrian accidents?

City Council meetings are recorded on You Tube. You can see Councillor Kemp’s response from about 33 to 38 minutes, or in our transcript below, along with SPACE for Gosforth’s response to Councillor Kemp’s comments.

Response from Councillor Nick Kemp, leader of the Council

“We have had eight collisions on Gosforth High Street since the introduction of the bus lane. There was a pedestrian accident at the crossing adjacent to North Cross Street where the pedestrian was hit by a car. A person got their fingers caught when exiting a taxi. Two accidents involved cyclists turning into and out of the side streets. Four accidents involved buses and included passengers falling on the bus. Two of the bus accidents involved vehicles changing lanes at West Avenue. The speed limit on Gosforth High Street is 20mph. Officers are continuing to monitor data, including accident data, before deciding whether to make the scheme permanent and any decision will be informed by the data and feedback from the consultation process which is now closed.”

Councillor Woodwark’s Supplemental Question

“Given the the upward trend that the accident statistics on the High Street clearly show and given the implementation of the bus route is against what was unanimously agreed by this Council in 2019, would the leader of the Council say that there was any ability for a move towards looking at using a District Centre which is what Gosforth High Street is rather than a thoroughfare conscientious it is the cause of these accidents?”

Councillor Kemp’s response

“I’m not in a position to answer directly behalf of my cabinet colleagues but what I would say is I’m not clear that what you state or suggested as being empirically accurate. I’m not sure whether there is an upward trend in accidents if incidents such as an individual catching their fingers in a taxi door counts as an accident in this instance because I think we are correlating a number of issues together and I think it would be worthwhile looking a bit more in detail at the accidents, the causation of the accidents where there’s a relation to. The principle of district hearts I am entirely wedded to, but that’s not the same as saying a point around the bus lanes. I am committed and have been committed for a long long time about the rebirth, regeneration and repurpose of district hearts across the whole of our city.”

Councillor Ferguson’s (Lib Dem, Gosforth Ward) Supplemental Question

“Picking up on your final comments there Councillor Kemp, would you then agree with the Liberal Democrats that the High Street should be a destination, not a thoroughfare as it is currently configured?”

Councillor Kemp’s response

“I find it always quite difficult to agree with the Liberal Democrats to but honest Councillor Ferguson but hey I think actually it is slightly more semantic than you are suggesting because for many people the district heart is a district heart, and it is a destination for many people who visit to access the facilities and services that exist there rather than a thoroughfare. I think some of it is about perception. I would like to see Gosforth HIgh Street continue to thrive and grow and develop and provide increased local services for people both locally and further afield.”

SPACE for Gosforth’s response

These are the nine injuries recorded on the central section of Gosforth High Street between April 2023 and February 2024, recorded on the NE Road User Casualty dashboard.

In line with Media Reporting Guidelines for Road Collisions we don’t say “accidents‘ as road traffic injuries are caused by preventable factors such as poor driving and badly designed road layouts. 

Infographic showing the site of each of the 9 collisions and who was injured.

Councillor Kemp states that he is “not sure whether there is an upward trend in accidents”.

The bar chart below shows the number of people injured by year on Gosforth High Street. The nine injuries in the year following the installation of the bus lane in April 2023 is the highest recorded for at least a decade.

The 20 mph limit, implemented in May 2020, should mean there are fewer collisions, not more. After a default 20 mph limit was introduced in Wales, injuries dropped by a third

There have been ten injuries since Newcastle Councillors, including the current Cabinet, voted unanimously for Gosforth High Street to be “designed to the highest possible safety standards for both pedestrians and all road users.”

Bar chart of injuries in the central section of Gosforth High Street by year.

Based on Councillor Kemp’s statement we now know seven of the collisions on Gosforth High Street collisions are linked to or were made more likely by the new road layout.

  • Two people cycling hit by a vehicle when turning into or out of a side street. Turning across two lanes of traffic is more dangerous than turning across one lane.
  • Two bus passengers injured due to vehicles changing lanes at West Avenue.
  • The other two bus passengers injured falling while on a bus, most likely due to rapid acceleration or deceleration.  
  • A person hit by a car driver when crossing by North Cross Street – possibly due to traffic lights being obscured by a bus in the left hand lane as we highlighted in our safety briefing

If any of the Council’s other recent traffic trials had led to nine people being injured they would have been removed immediately. Why is Gosforth High Street being treated differently?

The Heaton LTN was recently removed in part because Newcastle City Council considered that road safety risks there were a “major concern”, even without any actual injuries being recorded.

Councillors need to show some leadership, not shift the blame for poor decisions to Council Officers. Over ten people were injured every week on Newcastle’s roads in 2023, two of them seriously. Road danger isn’t a problem that will just go away with more “monitoring”.

Gosforth High Street needs a new design that meets the “highest possible safety standards for both pedestrians and all road users” that Councillors voted for, and residents supported in consultation feedback

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