Category Archives: Air Pollution

Low Traffic Neighbourhoods

Many people are in awe of what has been achieved in Walthamstow, London with over 10,000 less car movements per day and a big shift to walking and cycling as the neighbourhood became car light and traffic free.

London Cycling Campaign and Living Streets London have now created a guide for campaigners, council officers, and politicians on how to achieve these cheap, hugely impactful changes within your towns and cities in a matter of months.

The introduction I hope gives you a taste for what this document can do for Bath and North East Somerset, if the political will can be found.

Each neighbourhood or “cell” is a group of residential streets, bordered by main or “distributor” roads (the places where buses, lorries, lots of traffic passing through should be), or by features in the landscape that form barriers to motor traffic – rivers, train lines etc.

  • You should be able to walk across a neighbourhood in fifteen minutes at most. Larger, and people start driving inside the neighbourhood. We suggest an ideal size of about 1km2.
  • Groups of cells or neighbourhoods should be clustered around key amenities and transport interchanges in a 6-10km radius (with 1-2km walking journeys key) as a priority. This is typically what you get in Dutch suburbs, towns and cities. People walk and cycle within their area, and to the station etc.
  • Cells should link together with crossings across distributor roads or other cell boundaries – this enables people to comfortably walk and cycle between cells from home to amenities, transport interchanges etc.
  • The positive benefits of low traffic neighbourhoods can be further enhanced by providing high quality cycle tracks and pavements along the distributor roads also.

In the coming weeks I will be working publicly to identify all traffic light neighbourhood cells within the city and deliver a plan to create a city that truly prioritises walking and cycling and creates the behaviour change that a clean air zone could never achieve.

Watch this space!

Edit: Study of an introduction of a Low Traffic Neighbourhood cell in Dublin http://www.dublincity.ie/sites/default/files/content/RoadsandTraffic/Documents/Walsh%20Road%20Report.pdf

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Bath BreATHe: A closer look at the options

I’ve already analysed the proposed CAZ and how I feel there is nothing within it that reduces traffic or encourages behaviour change. But there is more to this proposal:

A quick recap on CAZ options:

  • Class B. Charges for higheremission buses, coaches, private hire, taxis and heavy goods vehicles (HGVs)
  • Class C. Charges as per Class B, plus higher-emission light goods vehicles (LGVs)
  • Class D. Charges as per Class C, plus higher-emission cars

Other Measures

To quote from the summary

Other measures Alongside the charging element, each package will include noncharging measures designed to encourage greener modes of travel and lessen the impact of a CAZ on residents and drivers. All of these ideas will be thoroughly assessed and discussed with local people. They might include:

  • Reduced cost of residents’ parking permits for low emission vehicles
  • Improved public transport facilities, such as bus priority, better bus stops and more realtime information for passengers to increase reliability and use
  • Improvements to walking and cycling routes and better provision for cycle parking
  • A review of taxi licensing policy, considering how low-emission vehicles can be encouraged
  • Improved use of variable message signs with information on parking options, travel times and air quality
  • Targeted traffic management improvements or improved bus priority on the A367 Wells Road
  • Making permanent the temporary bus lane on London Road.

If a Class D CAZ is chosen as the preferred option (which includes cars), then we’ll also look at introducing: electric cycle hire, priority parking areas for car sharing, and the expansion of the car club network, in addition to the measures above.

We’ll continue to look at other longer-term measures to improve air quality in Bath, such as the A46/A36 link road.

What I would like to have seen

A absolute commitment to deliver behavioural change.

  • Reduced cost of residents’ parking permits for low emission vehicles
    • Identify the commercial value of an on-street car parking space (about £1,200 per year) and set resident permit as a discount of that value. Offer no discount for high emission vehicles and longer vehicles.
  • Improved public transport facilities, such as bus priority, better bus stops and more realtime information for passengers to increase reliability and use. 
    • Park and Ride sites to become bus hubs with all passing buses stopping. All bus fares to Bath to use Park and Ride ticket pricing structure to encourage people to leave their cars at home. Realtime information to be provided to passengers.
    • New rural on-demand responsive bus network to be established integrating with major bus corridors. Traditional rural bus services to be cancelled.
  • Improvements to walking and cycling routes and better provision for cycle parking
    • Driving, walking, and cycling to be recognised equally important on our major roads and for separate space to be provided for each mode, prioritising all modes over on-street parking. The council will no longer encourage cycling but focus on enabling people to be able to cycle. A particular focus on delivering a safe network of cycle routes connecting schools to their communities.
    • Adoption of Oxfordshire Council cycling and walking standards to be a priority.
    • A recognition that transport is a public health emergency. MAKE HIGHWAYS ANSWERABLE TO THE DIRECTOR OF PUBLIC HEALTH AND SET KEY PERFORMANCE INDICATORS BASED ON PUBLIC HEALTH WITH CHILDHOOD OBESITY A PRIORITY.
  • A review of taxi licensing policy, considering how low-emission vehicles can be encouraged [good]
  • Improved use of variable message signs with information on parking options, travel times and air quality [good]
  • Targeted traffic management improvements or improved bus priority on the A367 Wells Road [why are they not doing this now?]
  • Making permanent the temporary bus lane on London Road. 
    • Removal of all on-street parking bays on London Road, Paragon, a redesign of Cleveland Bridge Junction and Morrisons junction to enable the creation of an east west “cycle super highway” going from Newbridge Park and Ride all the way to Bathford.
    • Ok maybe just the whole length of London Road.

Give me the D

If the council can persuade the people to vote for D then you get the extra bonus of electric cycle hire, priority parking areas for car sharing, and the expansion of the car club network. In other words what Exeter Co-Bikes/Co-Cars is doing right now as an integrated service allowing you to rent eBikes or rent an electric cars. Recognising that for most people an eBike gets you from A to B easily, but sometimes you need a car.

Exactly why are we not doing this now?

Reading between the lines

There is too much “might”. Too much about this is about encouragement. Not enough about enablement.

The resident permits is a joke given that a £1200 parking bay is currently sold to a resident for about £100.

The bus proposals are weak. The real issue is the cost of them. There is no recognition of new and successful approaches to public transport provision.

Given the council’s absolutely horrendous record on cycle infrastructure provision (I’m looking at you Keynsham) the wording is very weak. Improvements to cycling and walking is not “create a child safe cycle network to tackle the school run enabling children to cycle to school”. It could simply mean a bit of paint.

I leave you with this as a thought….

Change The Question

It’s not the Air Quality stupid: CAZ treat the effect not the cause

A friend reminded me that I had told him a few years ago that Air Pollution is a sideshow. The real issue for transport is health, under which Air Pollution is a small aspect, with obesity having to be the primary focus.

Tackling Air Pollution, as BaNES are demonstrating, can simply mean “buy a newer car” and by newer, by 2021, a 15 year old petrol or 6 year old diesel. Surprise surprise, by 2025 traffic would have increased by 6% (large pdf). The table can be found in one of the annexes. Continue reading It’s not the Air Quality stupid: CAZ treat the effect not the cause

Stop being an idler…

There are many things people are doing to fight air pollution within the city. Getting on your bike is one of them. Today there is an opportunity to become part of an army of people directly tackling vehicle idling within the city. This is one of a series of events being held. If you want to get involved you can find out more here https://www.idlingactionbath.org/events2

First Bath Clean Air Champions Idling Training and Action Afternoon 26th March 2:15-4:15pm

Our first Idling Action event will taking place at the YMCA on 26th March from 2.15pm.

There will be a training session lasting about 45 minutes. Pairs of volunteers will then be sent on to the streets in Abbey and Walcot encouraging drivers who are idling their engine to switch off. After about an hour we will meet up for refreshments and a debrief.

We are currently recruiting a team of enthusiastic volunteers who want to be part of this innovative education and behaviour change campaign to reduce localised air pollution and improve air quality in their residential and workplace community.