Cabinet Member for Traffic and Transport, Cllr Lynne Stagg and officers at the council have been following closely the reductions in traffic and improvement air quality levels in the city with so many people working from home and with most of the city's children not at school.
"We've all no doubt seen the beautiful pictures of our city as the number of car journeys and certain types of pollution drop drastically. Although there has been a slight increase in traffic recently, weekday road traffic
has fallen an astounding 60%. Sensors in the city report that this drop in road traffic also causes a drop in Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2). What has also been great to see is that cycling at weekends has increased by 125%, although this has dipped in the week as those that commute to work by bicycle aren't currently doing so. Measures like the road closure along the seafront make sure that local people have enough space to exercise safely.
It's good to see that the vast majority of people in Portsmouth are keeping to the Government guidelines. The improvement in air quality also gives us all a chance to consider how much car traffic and other issues like household emissions from gas boilers impact air quality.
With the lockdown and the need for social distancing, personal safety as far as Covid 19 is concerned, is at risk in some places because of the narrowness of the city`s roads making it difficult to keep 2 metres from other people when walking. This led to us closing part of the seafront road to motor traffic at weekends between St. George`s Road and the western end of Canoe Lake. This proved to be very successful but cyclists had to dismount in order to ride on the traffic-free section because of the gates closing the road.
For these reasons we decided last week to close a second section of the road and to close the road all week. The extended area is between The D Day Story and the Hovercraft terminus. This will be closed using bollards and signs instead of the gates which will be used only at the eastern end by the Coffee Cup. These closures will be in operation from 6.00pm on May 1st . This is being done under a Temporary Traffic Regulation Order (TTRO) on the basis that the current situation of roads being too narrow to safely implement social distancing, represents a danger to the public. The TTRO can last up to 18 months and will be monitored daily. Parking restrictions will apply and CCTV cameras cover the area so anyone breaching the barriers and parking within the closed sections are liable to have a parking fine. Anyone attempting to drive through the closed sections will be committing a crime and Police are monitoring the area.
We are also looking at other areas of the city where we can reallocate road space to enable safer walking and cycling , again under the same TTRO. We have a draft outline plan prioritised into `quick wins`, schemes that need funding which we need to find and longer-term schemes, all of which need to fit into the schemes we have already identified in our Integrated Transport Strategy. The quick wins include:-
- Temporary cycle lanes on wider roads,
- Banning motor traffic on some roads,
- Taking out some parking on some roads,
- Restricting loading and unloading in key places,
- Making some roads one-way and creating safe through routes for both cyclists and pedestrians.
The latter is important as we need to enable people to have a `clear run` wherever possible. Details are currently being worked, but should be ready by early next week."
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