In 2021, North Tyneside Council embarked on an ambitious active travel programme to support investment in walking and cycling corridors across the local authority. The programme of work was designed to replace the temporary measures that were put in place during the pandemic.
Given the size of proposals, each programme of work touched a large number of distinct communities living in different parts of the borough.
Council officers needed to understand the general support for the proposed measures and gather feedback on specific optimisations that could ensure that investments are well spent.
The consultations involved both the wider cycle network across the borough as well as a particularly contested route along the seafront.
Particularly tricky was the programme of work for the proposed sustainable cycling route along an 8km stretch of the North Tyneside promenade and coast. The council needed the ability to respond directly to comments via the platform, manage a large number of correspondence, and generate in-depth nuanced response reports for engineers and public statements.
What was done
North Tyneside Council officers set up a series of interactive consultations using the PlaceChangers Map Engagement tool.
Council officers used the PlaceChangers proposal map designer to set up the proposals on PlaceChangers. They then turned them into an interactive consultation.
At its core, these consultations included interactive proposal maps that presented respective routes and detail on the proposed measures in a context sensitive way. Proposed measures might range from new crossings, speed calming measures, speed limits, and new shared and segregated cycling provision.
To support the consultation programme, the team at PlaceChangers provided a range of customisations to support the ambitions of the council, including:
North Tyneside Council has substantial success in publicising the consultation via their social media channels, email newsletters, and local news outlets.
Given the great interest for those proposals amongst local people, the consultation was widely advertised and even reached national level coverage on BBC.
"Using PlaceChangers, we received an impressive amount of engagement and constructive comments in comparison to previous transport and regeneration consultations. Through using an online tool, we were able to save so much time by not needing to manually input each individual response. Better yet, the team promptly provided us with a detailed, customisable report which thoroughly analysed the feedback, drawing valuable insights and conclusions from the data. The PlaceChangers toolkit and the support we received from the team was second to none and we hope to work with them again on future projects.”
For the coastal route proposals, 1,588 residents responded to the consultation and provided more than 10,761 responses across 61 proposals.
Within the first week of consultation, PlaceChangers achieved 100% coverage, meaning that all proposals had received at least three responses.
Respondents could easily locate themselves with geo-location on mobile phones. For the cycle path proposals, they could toggle through the guided tour walking through the detail of measures going from North to South. For the Cullercoats option, the PlaceChangers platform selectively showed detail for one of three routing options.
The consultation respondents were largely supportive and complementary to the council's efforts. However, both opponents and proponents of the projects did not hold back in sharing critical feedback on how routes are presently used by cyclists and offering helpful suggestions on how to avoid future conflicts.
Unlike previous consultations, this approach provided the council unprecedented detailed feedback on this complex infrastructure programme. Armed with detailed intervention-level feedback, council engineers had everything they needed to revise the designs and produce a final version of proposals.
At the end of the consultation, the PlaceChanger platform provided a ready-made interactive report that aggregated responses by sentiment and by individual features across 5 major consultation areas. The North Tyneside Council officers could download a detailed export for further analysis of responses.
The use of PlaceChangers also enabled a detailed cohort analysis of responses, for example, to see support across age groups or gender.
The project remains accessible online: https://app.placechangers.co.uk/campaign/203/map