Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cycling Commissioner Could Be Part of Mayor's Sustainable Travel Policy

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Cycling Commissioner Could Be Part of Mayor's Sustainable Travel Policy

Article excerpt

Byline: DANIEL HOLLAND Local democracy reporter daniel.holland@reachplc.com

ANEW figurehead could be appointed to spearhead efforts to improve "woefully underfunded" walking, cycling, and public transport infrastructure in the North of Tyne.

Campaigners are calling on metromayor Jamie Driscoll to appoint a new walking and cycling commissioner to help tackle the region's air pollution and climate crisis.

The position has already been created in many other UK regions, including by former Olympic cyclist Chris Boardman in Greater Manchester, and the North of Tyne Mayor says he is "already working" to do the same here.

It comes after the Sustainable Travel Coalition - which includes organisations such as the Newcastle Cycling Campaign, British Cycling, and Newcastle Greenpeace - wrote to the mayor urging him to put his focus on lobbying for improved cycle and pedestrian routes, as well as public transport.

Sally Watson, chair of Newcastle Cycling Campaign, said "Walking, cycling and public transport are woefully underfunded, despite being the cleanest and greenest options.

"In the light of a climate emergency now declared by all three North of Tyne local authorities, we need to make them the easiest and most accessible ways to travel for the benefit of everyone.

"While there is no budget for walking and cycling attached to the mayoral post, there is scope for him to influence and inform policy and investment."

The campaigners say that, while the North of Tyne mayor has no transport powers, a commissioner could lobby for new high-quality transport options to help people switch from private cars.

Jenny Wiles, regional director of Living Streets, added: "The appointment of our new North of Tyne Mayor is a real opportunity to push forward the transport transformation in our region. A commissioner, answering directly to the mayor could oversee the development of a regional strategy for walking and cycling. …

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