This entry was posted on Friday, March 11th, 2011 at 6:04 pm and is filed under Bicycle advocacy. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.
I was interested in David Hembrow’s story about the Masstunnel in Rotterdam, “a magnificent and early example of elaborate separate infrastructure for cyclists and pedestrians versus motorised traffic.”
This was built in the 1940s and, in its 1950s heyday, saw an amazing 40,000 cyclists use the tunnel each day. 4500 cyclists use it each day now, but there are more river crossing options these days.
The UK has similar infrastructure, just not as well used or as well-known. There’s the Greenwich tunnel in London (cyclists are supposed to wheel their bikes through), the less than salubrious Clyde tunnel in Glasgow, and, on my home-patch, the Tyne Tunnel.
There are now two car tunnels, one built in 1967 and one opened just a few weeks ago. But the first tunnel under the Tyne wasn’t for cars at all, it was for cyclists and pedestrians.
The Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel is nearly 60 years old and is a Grade II listed building.
The tunnel crosses the River Tyne between Howdon in North Tyneside and Jarrow in South Tyneside.
Cyclists and pedestrians are separated: with a tunnel section each.
The 270m tunnels run in parallel, one for pedestrian use with a 3.2m diameter, and a larger 3.7 m diameter tunnel for cyclists.
The four original wooden-step Waygood-Otis escalators were, at the time of construction, the longest single-rise escalators in the world, with a vertical rise of 25.9m and a length of 61m.
Later this year, a £6 million refurbishment will replace two of the escalators with travelator-style escalators. The other escalators will be left in situ, with their workings opened to view.
In its heyday, the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel was used by 20,000 people a day, mostly workers from the shipyards on both sides of the Tyne. The shipyards are now largely gone, and so are the workers. Some cyclists still use the tunnel but, sadly, it’s an under-used resource despite having bike paths on each side of the river. There are now just 60 or so tunnel-users per day, with about 40 of these being cyclists.
This tunnel shows that the UK was once able to produce world-class separated cycle and pedestrian facilities.
And, gulp, the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel is not paid for by tax-payers as are other highways in the UK. The tunnel is paid for by the toll fees charged on the motor vehicle tunnels, making the Tyne Pedestrian and Cyclist Tunnel one of the very few cycle facilities to be paid for by motorists. [A point I make time and time again on one of my other sites, iPayRoadTax.com].
Oh, and the fish sculpture? It’s being ripped out and placed elsewhere. And what’s replacing the sculpture? Car parking spaces apparently. Criminal, really.