Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transport Councillor Lynne Stagg reports on her meeting with Extinction Rebellion, Friends of the Earth, Cycle Forum, The Safe Travel Manager & the Assistant Director of Transport that took place on May 15th.
Our Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS) was made last year and shows how Transport will address the city's key priorities over the next 15 years. Included within this strategy is the Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP). The attendees agreed that the ITS isn`t static but is a dynamic programme which will change and develop as the world around us changes, as it has had to in recent weeks as a result of COVID19.
We have responded to the COVID crisis by identifying some `quick wins` which will enable safe-distancing for both walkers and cyclists but keeping in mind the plans we have already identified for the next 2, 5 and 10 years and into which these quick wins could fit.
The quick wins are as follows:
- Closing 2 sections of the Seafront road (already done) - residents' survey
- Closing the inside lane southbound on Eastern Road to create a cycle lane for more confident cyclists, leaving the current shared path for leisure/less confident cyclists and walkers to ensure safe distancing. The car park at Farlington Marshes will be a Park & Cycle site enabling commuters from outside the city to drive there but cycle into the city if they wish. The lane is likely to end at Tangier Road on the advice of the Cycle Forum. The speed limit will also be reduced to 30 mph and there will be abundant signage plus announcements on social media. There are concerns about the roundabout for cyclists as HGVs frequently straddle 2 lanes plus the bridge over the moat which is too narrow for a cycle lane. The solutions for both of these aren`t `quick wins` and will need to be addressed at a later date but as soon as possible.
- A Traffic Free (except for buses) route along Isambard Kingdom Brunel Road through Guildhall Square and Guildhall Walk (two-way cycling) and then on to the Common or The Hard (route not confirmed at this point as officers were inspecting the area on Friday afternoon)
- Opening up a cycle route behind Cascades to take the pressure off the shared space on the opposite side of Market Way and Hope Street
- Trying to get an agreement to open up the path behind Lakeside.
All of these are due to be in place by next weekend. All 3 representatives of XR, FoE and the Cycle Forum were in agreement. We are initially funding these schemes by using money already allocated in our budget for other schemes which aren`t due to come on line until later and then repay that cost when we receive some of the £250 million funding announced by Grant Shapps last weekend. That money will be allocated on a pro-rata basis which means we should get a fixed amount based on population size and not on a competitive bid.
We further discussed future developments as we all agreed we need to build on the improvements to air quality and travel safety that Covid 19 has given us. We have already discussed several outline schemes we have identified such as developing the `Quieter Routes` for cyclists and walkers to create continuous traffic-free routes where possible by making some roads Vehicle Access for Residents Only, blocking off streets with planters to prevent through traffic, making more roads one-way with two-way cycling etc. The three representatives at the meeting have offered to help by identifying suitable roads and `pinch points` etc. and also people to physically help eg building planters and maintaining them, doing cycle and walking counts to supplement figures we collect for road traffic etc. The main commuter cycle routes are already being worked on but they require substantial funding and so will take longer to implement although we will apply for any funding possible.
Recent figures show Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels have dropped on average between 33 and 41%. This drop is linked to the reduction in traffic, however recent increases in traffic to 60% of normal will no doubt affect local air quality. At the start of the lockdown, traffic levels were as low as 40% of normal. This shows people are starting to use their cars more and highlights the importance of seizing this opportunity to turn the reductions in traffic and improvements in air quality into longer-term trends to enhance the city for all.
I am very happy to work with all three groups and support their aims. The officers also said they would be happy to work together and we`ll meet on a regular basis. Their experience is invaluable in helping to explore what is possible and bring ideas and suggestions to fruition.
Councillor Lynne Stagg
Cabinet Member for Traffic & Transport
If you'd like to let us know your thoughts on the partial closure of the seafront road please complete our short survey.
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