Hexham Neighbourhood Plan 7:00pm, 22 April, Great Hall, Hexham Abbey.

What is a Neighbourhood Plan?

The Hexham Neighbourhood Plan (HNP) will serve the Hexham community by:
•providing residents and businesses with a vehicle for collaboration and engagement on the future of the town (its spatial development),
•working within the planning framework established by the NCC’s Core Strategy (Local Plan) to add definition and detail relevant to Hexham’s character and future development,
•researching and documenting the needs, desires and ambitions of local people and businesses in respect of Hexham’s built, natural and historic environment and the opportunities it offers for people’s homes, employment and leisure,
•presenting in an accessible way the resulting plan, policies and policy conditions that will have statutory force and will place the principles of the town’s spatial development (town planning) in the hands of the local community.

The Hexham Neighbourhood Plan will be an opportunity for the community to express pride in the town, its heritage and special character, and build on these in a sustainable way that will improve the quality of life for residents and secure the town’s longer-term commercial vitality.

It can cover many issues, from green spaces to shop fronts, from housing for local people to the location of new businesses. It can allocate land for development and it can protect land from development.

Once adopted, the Hexham Neighbourhood Plan will contain planning policies and site allocations which will be used by County Council planning officers when making decisions on planning applications in Hexham Parish.

This means we have a unique opportunity to ensure that decisions made in Hexham truly reflect the ambitions and needs of local residents and businesses. Neighbourhood Plans are community led documents and as many representatives of the local community as possible must be involved.

There will be public meetings prior to its full approval so now is your chance to HAVE YOUR SAY AND INFLUENCE THE FUTURE OF HEXHAM… the first meeting is on the 22nd April, 7 pm in the Great hall, Hexham Abbey


fOR MORE INFO SEE: http://www.hexhamneighbourhoodplan.co.uk/

China’s campaign to re-embrace its biking tradition

To reduce air pollution and traffic jam, China has become a leader in building sharable biking systems. With its fleet of 650,000 public bikes, last year China surpassed Italy as the country with most bike-share programmes. This means the world’s top four bike-share cities are all in China as a record number of people are picking up the cycling habit which they abandoned after the 1980s when Beijing ordered bikes to be replaced with cars as it focused on economic expansion. This approach will be probably more successful in reducing obesity in China than their plan to tio do tackle this by making China a football nation.

Safe cycling

David Boardman writes:

If cycling looks and feels normal, more people will cycle (British Cycling research has shown that two thirds of people would cycle more if they felt safer). The more people cycle, the safer they are – the safety in numbers effect. The more people cycle, the more lives will be saved from amongst the 37,000 that die each year from obesity-related illnesses. Never mind the more than 27,000 that die annually from pollution-related illnesses.

In contrast, there are approximately 116 cyclists tragically killed in the UK each year, that’s one per every 1000 times around the planet. Cycling is statistically safer than gardening and yet it doesn’t feel like it when you’re cycling next to a lorry or car that gets too close at a busy junction.

People wear helmets and high vis as they feel it’s all they can do to keep themselves safe. It shows just how far away Britain is from embracing cycling as a normal and convenient form of transport.

For an insight into why I know helmets are not the answer to keeping people on bikes safe, I urge you to spend just two minutes (or even just 30 seconds) of your time watching this video People wear helmets and high vis as they feel it’s all they can do to keep themselves safe. It shows just how far away Britain is from embracing cycling as a normal and convenient form of transport.

For an insight into why I know helmets are not the answer to keeping people on bikes safe, I urge you to spend just two minutes (or even just 30 seconds) of your time watching this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n-AbPav5E5M&noredirect=

This is Utrecht in the Netherlands, it’s just 250 miles from London where helmet use is less than 0.5% and there isn’t a stitch of high vis in sight. They have an incredible safety record and some of the lowest casualty rate of anywhere in the world.

I’m willing to bet that even those that swear by helmets and high vis would feel comfortable discarding their body armour in such an environment. And that’s the point; in Utrecht they have addressed the real dangers to cyclists.

Ted Liddle writes: Hexham isn’t Utrecht and that’s why I will continue wearing a helmet and high vis.

Car-centric planning

Citizens of the municipality of Oeiras, the most car-dependent place in Portugal, have voted strongly in favour of the 5.8 km ‘Ciclovia na Marginal’ proposal to convert a second car lane into a coastal bicycle lane. Its not going to be easy as its a community plagued by a ‘dictatorship of cars’.
The lack of bicycle-friendly infrastructure means that for elderly people, children and touring cyclists, cycling along this coastline isn’t safe enough. In the initial phase, the proposal received an unexpected demonstration of public support. However, Portuguese cycling advocacy groups fear that public support will be ignored in the upcoming consultations.
Long-accused of ignoring active mobility infrastructure in favour of cars, the national road authority, Estradas de Portugal, is expected to argue against the proposal in the car-focused technical assessment round. Furthermore, the local municipality is showing no signs of supporting the initiative.
If Ciclovia na Marginal is dropped, it will deal a real blow not only to the trust of this community in their institutions, but also to the effort to promote improved cycling infrastructure, sustainable tourism and a healthier life style.
This car-focused mentality is not Europe’s future nor is it the wish of many Europeans. Unfortunately, the insistence of institutions to prioritise infrastructure for vehicles will set communities on an unavoidable course of car dependency.
Locally, the current Hexham Town Council is supportive of proposals to improve cycling in Hexham but this will have to be done incrementally.

Safer cycling means healthier people

A survey of 15 countries has revealed that children in Scotland and England are among the least physically active in the world. The first so-called ‘global matrix’ of children’s physical activity assessed nine indicators, such as active play and active transportation.
Creating safer routes to schools would encourage more parents to allow their children to cycle to school. Reducing risk of injury on roads would provide much more pleasant towns & cities for everyone to live and move around in which in turn, would reduce risk of illness (and worse) from obesity AND improve all round quality of life.

Cycle lanes – learning lessons from the seriously car-centric USA

The Gosforth High Street battle of people versus cars is one to watch as it mirrors the painful decisions many high streets are facing. Will hard learned lessons in the USA cross to the UK I wonder. We don’t have the space to play with but we do have the same need.

Take the New York example where the bike community prevailed over the “not-in-my-backyard” crowd. Today, the Prospect Park West bike lane stands as a crown jewel in the growing network of bike infrastructure that has helped establish New York as one of the most bike-friendly cities in the United States.

In retrospect, it seems clear that the anti-bike lane coalition – dismissed as irrational and parochial by cycling advocates – knew how quietly revolutionary that strip would be. According to the New York City Department of Transportation (NYC DOT), the bike lane has reduced speeding rates from 74% to 20%. Meanwhile, since the lane’s installation, crashes and injuries of all kinds have dropped by 63%. Travel times for motorists did not increase and neither did congestion (source). Meanwhile, a NYC DOT survey showed more than 70% of neighbourhood residents supported the improvement.

Protected bike lanes like the Prospect Park West bike lane are upsetting the transportation status quo in more and more cities across North America. Similar treatments have transformed Dearborn Street in Chicago, IL; Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC; and Market Street in San Francisco, CA.

In fact, it’s getting to the point where if your city doesn’t have a protected bike lane yet, it’s being left behind. Last year alone, the number of protected bike lanes in the United States nearly doubled from 62 to 102. This year, the number is expected to double again. Protected bike lanes are now in place in 32 cities across the United States, according to Martha Roskowski, director of the Green Lane Project.

New cycling laws

A new clause inserted by backbencher Steve Barclay MP into the Anti-social Behaviour, Crime and Policing Bill will give police community support officers (PCSOs) in England and Wales expansive new powers to stop and fine cyclists who do not have lights on their bikes. PCSOs will also be able to stop and fine cyclists if they don’t have reflectors on their bicycles, including on the pedals. Clipless pedals don’t have reflectors fitted to them but to be street legal all bicycles used at night will need to have a rear reflector and two reflectors on each pedal.

The Government has now gone further. Thanks to a later amendment tabled in the Lords, PCSOs will also get much wider powers to enforce traffic offences by drivers and cyclists alike. These will include giving out on-the-spot fines to cyclists having more than one person on a bike; cyclists who fail to comply with traffic directions; and cyclists who ignore red traffic lights. PCSOs will also be able to fine drivers parking in school zones and other motoring offences.

While the Government seems unable to do much to protect cyclists’ safety on the roads with legislation that would actually make a difference it has spent time on a clause that could be used to harass cyclists who may be highly visible, with hundreds of pounds worth of lights but who don’t have pedal reflectors worth pennies.
[Source: Bike Bizz]

Hexham Car Club launch


Hexham Community Car Club will be launched on Friday 6 December at 1.30pm in Hexham’s Wentworth car park when the first of two environmentally-friendly cars will arrive in its designated parking bay. Do come along and be part of this event: photo opportunity and a small glass of bubbly (or possibly our very own homemade apple cider) are on offer.
Transition Tynedale’s Transport Group have worked hard to deliver this initiative. And while there will continue to be arguments about the eco-friendliness (or not) of electric and hybrid cars versus traditional cars, there is no doubt that car clubs reduce the number of cars on the road, because members tend to consider other transport options (walking, cycling, using bus and train) before jumping into the car. And this is very much the reason behind TTers beginning the car club. We hope that families who join may be giving up their personal car or their 2nd car. We also know that having a car club in Hexham will be offering a service to families who cannot afford to own a car, but who occasionally would like private transport. Members of Transition Tynedale continue, of course, to champion cycling and walking, and work for improvements to cycling routes and pedestrian infrastructure – not to mention attitudes towards these more vulnerable road users.

The Hexham Car Club is a partnership between Transition Tynedale and the social enterprise car club operator Co-wheels with support from Northumberland County Council. The fuel efficient, low carbon, plug-in hybrid car will be available for car club members to book online 24/7 by the hour or longer and drive away. Members can join the car club for a one off fee of just £25.00 and are then charged through a simple payment system for the hours and mileage they use. All insurance, maintenance and other costs of keeping are car are covered by the charges.

Gillian Orrell, Chair of Transition Tynedale, said: “This shows yet again what can be achieved for the benefit of many by a few committed volunteers having good ideas and being willing and able to translate those ideas into reality. It also shows again the benefits of working in partnership with others, here with Northumberland County Council and Co-wheels. This feels like another positive step forward for Hexham and particularly great for all of us who are signing up!”

Richard Falconer of Durham based Co-wheels said “We are very excited to be launching a first-class car club for the residents and businesses in Hexham. We set up Co-wheels as an alternative to people owning their own cars. People are becoming really aware of the cost of car ownership, both financially and environmentally. The car club allows people to give up their car, but still provides easy, convenient access to a car when they need one through Co-wheels.”

Membership is open now through the Co-Wheels web site. A special promotional code, ‘transition’ gives free driving credit of £20 for new members. Representatives from Co –wheels and TT will be available from 1.30 on the 6th December in the Wentworth car park near the Tourist Information Centre with more information or visit Co-Wheels

For further information about Car Club, see our Frequently Asked Questions.