The announcement we have been waiting for all week has finally been made and l have to say it’s no earth shaker. I told you not to hold your breath.
The government has given local authority’s powers to create safe avenues for people to get to and from work or shops and maintain social distancing.
The B&NES press office has just put out a statement regarding Bath and – although they are considering restricted vehicular access and the removal of on-street parking – the only definite temporary measure appears to be widening some pavements. All that talk of closing Milsom Street has so far come to nothing.
Here’s the statement in full:
“Temporary measures to widen pavements, remove traffic from roads, and improve cycling, will be introduced in parts of the city to help people to socially distance and to encourage a long-term shift in the way people travel around Bath and North East Somerset.
Plans to temporarily widen pavements in Camden Road, St Saviours Road, Manvers Street/ Pierrepont Street, Monmouth Place, Monmouth Street, Moorland Road, North Parade, Queen Square, Somerset Street, Terrace Walk, Walcot Street, Westgate Buildings and Weston High Street, are underway.
The social distancing measures should be in place by mid-June to support any re-opening of shops and businesses.
Locations have been selected where there is a likelihood that people will step into the road as a result of the two-metre social distancing rule or because they are roads with more traffic on them and therefore less safe for pedestrians.
In addition, to support businesses re-opening in the city centre access restrictions and removal of on-street parking is being considered. This is to avoid pinch points so that people can safely socially distance and wait outside shops without a conflict with traffic. This includes Milsom Street, Cheap Street, Westgate Street, Upper Borough Walls, York Street, Green Street and Kingsmead Square.
The council is working with Bath BID to look at signage to encourage people to keep a safe distance from each other and to queue safely within the city centre pedestrian area.
Further measures include
- Removing the need to push buttons at 22 signalised junctions
- Road safety posters to increase drivers’ awareness that pedestrians may step out into the road as they maintain social distancing
The new measures will be in place for the duration of the government advice, which all councils have been directed to follow in order to support the recovery from Covid-19.
They use Emergency Traffic Regulation Orders (ETROs) to allow cities and towns to re-open, recover and operate within social distancing guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. The measures also pave the way for permanent liveable-neighbourhoods with an emphasis on more walking and cycling.
As the council progresses these schemes full consideration will be made of our obligations under the Equality Act.
In addition to implementing the urgent temporary social distancing measures Bath & North East Somerset Council is asking for views on a raft of longer-term improvements, some of which could be introduced on an experimental basis, including allocating additional road space to improve cycling and walking for daily commuting and better signage across the area.
The council is about to launch a new Liveable Neighbourhoods website for residents to share views on where we can create more space for walking and cycling. The site https://bathnesliveablestreets.commonplace.is/ should be going live next week and people can sign up for it now.
Councillor Joanna Wright, cabinet member for Transport Services, said: “The Government is urging all of us who are contemplating returning to work to consider more active ways to travel like cycling and walking. It is crucial that we take pressure off roads and public transport networks and rethink how we use private vehicles and where we park.
“We are planning pavement widening and cycle improvements to help with social distancing as well as improved signage, particularly in the city centre of Bath. But we also want to seek views and are launching a Liveable Neighbourhoods website which asks people to get involved as part of our longer-term aspirations. We are also working with our partners in the West of England to agree a list of transport schemes that can be introduced in the short term utilising the pending government funding.
“We have a responsibility to radically rethink the way we travel around Bath and North East Somerset. As part of our recovery we have a once-in-a-generation chance to develop long-term sustainable changes to the way we travel. These include a programme of liveable-neighbourhoods, new ways of supporting and improving cycling for daily commuting and reallocating road space.”
Councillor Paul Crossley, cabinet member for Community Services, added: “This is an ambitious proposal from the council to greatly improve the city centre for those getting around, shopping and enjoying other leisure activities. We need to be able to allow people space to socially distance as they walk around and these measures enable that. We are really interested to hear people’s views particularly those of disabled people so we can make sure their needs are taken into account.”
As well as considering measures in line with the government’s directive, and as part of the council’s response to recovery, the council will be consulting city centre businesses, service providers and residents on a package of public realm measures.
These will integrate work which was underway, before the Covid-19 pandemic, in partnership with Avon & Somerset Police, which will permanently strengthen the city centre’s security and public safety. This will be done through access management and enhanced street furniture in addition to improving the public realm. Consultation, which will include consulting on the needs of disabled people, is due to start later in the year.”
For details about the temporary measures please go to www.bathnes.gov.uk/bathsocialdistancing