A Liddle means a lot for Northumberland cyclists

The new Advisory Cycle Lanes east of Corbridge
A testing stretch of the Hadrian’s Cycleway in Northumberland is now safer and more user-friendly thanks to CTC campaigner Ted Liddle.

Ted’s work has resulted in the centre line being removed and Advisory Cycle Lanes being installed for 860 metres on the B6530 east of Corbridge – which is an increasingly popular cycle route into/out of the village, so it’s no surprise the much-needed improvements have been welcomed by cyclists.

Ted, who recently became the CTC Right To Ride representative for the area, first recommended ACLs for this stretch of road in 1997 then kept pushing for them over the following years. He prepared a more detailed report in 2013 after co-founding Cycling Tynedale earlier that year.

He said: “More cyclists are using this road each year as Hadrian’s Cycleway (National Cycle Network Route 72) and of course cycling in general is becoming more popular, but this section wasn’t pleasant to cycle, particularly eastbound up the incline away from Corbridge.

“The NCN is supposed to be safe enough for an unaccompanied 12-year-old child to cycle but even experienced cyclists did not enjoy the constrictive nature of this bit of road, the lack of natural light due to tree cover, it’s slightly curving alignment plus the speed and closeness of many overtaking vehicles.

It’s an extremely cost-effective way of making the road safer for cyclists without detriment to other users."

CTC campaigner Ted Liddle 

“The ACLs are a long-overdue safety measure and I commend Northumberland County Council Highways for carrying out the work. It’s an extremely cost-effective way of making the road safer for cyclists without detriment to other users."

It appears some vehicle drivers will take time to adapt to the new road layout, simple though it should be to use. Ted added: “The new cycle lanes have confused some rural motorists who mustn’t have seen them before so didn’t know they could straddle them when not occupied by cyclists.

“Not only is this stretch of the B6530 on Hadrian’s Cycleway, it is also on the Tour of Northumberland route and is an important part of the Tyne Valley corridor for cyclists wishing to travel from Newcastle to the countryside.

“This is not an outrageous facility, it is common all over the country – but it’s the first time Northumberland CC has provided cycle lanes like this in a rural area and local motorists simply aren’t used to it.

“It would have been helpful to drivers to locate temporary notices at each end which say ‘Change of road markings – vehicles are permitted to straddle’. I’m hoping this will still happen.

“This is a 30mph area but traffic is getting bigger, faster and more frequent. The lanes make it much safer for cyclists and it is a question of motorists getting used to the new layout, which will happen in time.” 

The new road layout has attracted some adverse publicity, so Ted is hoping local cyclists rally to the cause by pointing out its benefits.

He said: “If any of you feel moved to write supportively to letters@hexham-courant.co.uk copied to Corbridge Parish Council corbridge@ukpc.net and Northumberland CC Alex.Thompson@northumberland.gov.uk then please do so. Thank you in anticipation.”  

The reports Ted submitted to Northumberland CC Highways in 2013, 2014 and again in 2015 about the Corbridge problem were a masterclass in the presentation of facts, legal requirements, data, photographs and local knowledge that are required to get something done.

These included the five key aspects of route quality that should be taken into account when designing and building cycle facilities.

Prior to the work, the B6530 scored as follows: Safety (2/5), Coherence (5/5), Directness (5/5), Attractiveness (e.g. low traffic flow, landscape etc, 1/5) and Comfort (0/5). This gave a total of 13 out of 25, a figure Ted expects to be closer to 20 out of 25 now the improvements have been made.

Working for the benefit of cycling and cyclists is in Ted’s blood and the resolution he has helped influence at Corbridge is the latest in a long line of campaign and route development successes.

An avid cyclist both on and off road, Ted runs Tyne Valley MTB club and one of his proudest achievements is master-minding the Sandstone Way – a 120-mile mountain biking route from Berwick upon Tweed to Hexham which opened earlier this year, boosting tourism in the area and creating local jobs.

Ted, who lives close to Hexham, is a typical advert for the incontestable fact that cycling is good for your health. He is extremely fit for his age and led two very tough mountain bike tours in the Alps last year.

The Corbridge campaign is close to completion but Ted has further safer cycling proposals in the pipeline which he hopes Northumberland CC will have the funding to implement in 2016.

Watch this space…

If you want to make a difference to cycling in your local area like Ted, then check out the volunteer campaigning opportunities with CTC: www.ctc.org.uk/local-cycle-campaigning