Will traffic jams end our love of the car?

It’s no doubt an essential repair or upgrade I am sure but – from tomorrow (Wednesday) – our narrow residential road will be bearing the brunt of the rat run traffic that normally uses nearby Deadmill Lane during the rush hour.

The Gloucester Road end of Deadmill Lane

This normally takes them through and up into Camden – avoiding the London Road which is already choked with morning and evening traffic following the closure of Cleveland Bridge.

We will have three days of hell in Ferndale Road – while Wessex Water dig up the tarmac in Deadmill Lane. Ours is a road which already has parking issues and narrow pavements AND a high number of young families living along it.

The top end of Ferndale Road

A similar issue is also being felt by residents in Bailbrook Lane – on the other side of the dangerous crossroads at the top of Ferndale. It’s where people on either side meet the old Gloucester Road – itself bearing traffic coming off the A46 early to avoid jams.

Bailbrook is designated a ‘no through’ road with no pavements but is now being used by motorists cutting through to the Batheaston toll bridge to get around the Cleveland Bridge closure.

It’s an issue raised recently by former Lib-Dem Lambridge Ward Councillor Joanna Wright – who recently defected to the Green Party.

In an open letter to the Leader of B&NES, the West of England Combined Authority and local press she asked Cllr Kevin Guys – leader of the ruling Lib-Dem group to “restate the council’s commitment to walking and cycling and recognise that keeping traffic moving goes against everything that this administration has been working to achieve?

At Friday’s meeting (15th July 2021) Cleveland Bridge repair closure meeting on mitigation’s measures, held for Ward Cllrs, Parish Cllrs and local residents, the Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Rigby stated that “we need to keep traffic moving.”  

This statement is alarming, as it works against the Council’s commitment to walking and cycling and was the traffic policy of the former Cabinet Member for Transport Cllr Anthony Clarke, some years ago.

It is therefore interesting that you are quoted in the press release (see below) as attending the UK 100 “international Net Zero” event with Cllr Warren, the Deputy Leader for Climate Emergency and Sustainable Travel, where you stated:

 “Through our Liveable Neighbourhoods proposals to create connected, healthy communities across B&NES, we will reduce the use of cars for short trips and improve health and wellbeing.”

Cllr Wright says the Council has already stated that data shows approximately 42 per cent of all car journeys in Bath are for distances of less than 3km. And that ‘now more than ever, we must encourage daily physical activity to help boost health and well-being.’

She continued:

The closure of Cleveland Bridge gives a rare opportunity to encourage the act of walking and cycling, but the Cabinet member for Transport is saying that “we need to keep transport moving”.  This is a clear change of direction for Transport in B&NES and the West of England Combined Authority (WECA).  

The Joint Local Transport Policy (JLTP4) shows a clear commitment from B&NES at a regional level to enable walking and cycling and it recognises that “the need to keep transport moving” enables pollution, congestion and greater use of cars.

 Research at an academic level proves this, see the following article: https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/10.1098/rsos.201808?fbclid=IwAR2AQ7zT2ZMoDkXPVF4yqnVqKMX7WPFyiSYS8rRGnxkPwo6cg6ynfpFFlf4

Bailbrook Lane

Bailbrook Lane in Lambridge has for many years been a “no through road”. This “no through” road has no measures in place to stop drivers misusing this narrow lane, with no pavements  and residents have for many years requested support. Some residents were involved in a study with University of Bath in collaboration with Transition Larkhall in 2017, that undertook quantitive data gathering due to the ongoing “rat running” issues.

Bailbrook Lane has a large number of families with young children who are unable to walk or cycle safely.  The closure of Cleveland Bridge has increased misuse of this no through lane.

Bailbrook Lane

At yesterday’s meeting, I did challenge Cllr Rigby’s comment, pointing out that the main priority of the Council is its duty of care to protect residents and that keeping traffic moving goes against present transport policy. 

It was made quite clear at the meeting from the Deputy Leader, Cllr Warren that only through consensus in the community will a Liveable Neighbourhood option be used.  As Ward Cllr for Lambridge, I am aware that there are no Liveable Neighbourhood schemes in development for Lambridge.  A Liveable neighbourhood pro forma was sent to the Council in April 2021 on behalf of Lambridge residents.

Therefore as Ward Cllr, I am at a loss as to how consensus will be reached in a community where there is no action or scheme for a Liveable Neighbourhood, whilst having to endure large lorries and vans and extra drivers due to the repairs on Cleveland Bridge. It would appear that this press statement is just another rhetorical “pr exercise” from the Liberal Democrat led Council, claiming a greener that green agenda, when in reality the Cabinet Member for Transport is steering a car centred agenda.

A clear request is being made from local residents for immediate action to support safe travel due to the repairs taking place on Cleveland Bridge, to protect the community from vehicles that are not even meant to be passing resident’ s front doors.

As well as a Liveable neighbourhood  pro forma supplied outlining the problem. The response from the Cabinet Member for Transport, Cllr Rigby is that “we need to keep vehicles moving”, which is in contravention to the stated aims of this Council.

This statement is further alarming when Cllr Rigby has openly opposed a bus gate on North Road and the culture change that would be enabled from this infrastructure scheme that has support in the community.

I look forward to you restating the council’s commitment to walking and cycling and recognising that keeping traffic moving goes against the Climate Emergency and your many press statements.”

Bath Newseum has asked the Council leader for comment but – so far – not received a response.

4 Comments

  1. Morning Richard,
    This closure, albeit temporary, is interesting because I think the cessation of rat running on Deadmill Lane would ease the pain of many residents and schools further along the rat-run route. It would be the key to making the wider eastern part of Bath more safe and easier to use for pedestrians and a cyclists. That said, there would then be no choice but to direct through traffic onto the main road into Bath – ie the London Road to protect narrow residential streets like yours and others in the area.

    I’m therefore a bit mystified when you say that the closure of Cleveland Bridge is causing more traffic on the London Road? I wonder if that’s the case, or as I suspect, people are using their cars to avoid public transport.

    We need a quiet, thoughtful discussion with good information but it seems to me that we are descending into vocal factions only interested in protecting their patch without looking at the bigger picture. By this I don’t mean you, but the groups who have pushed for liveable Neighbourhoods which are probably easier to resolve than the problems we have in the Cambridge/Walcot north ward.

    As for Bailbrook Lane, its outrageous that the Council hasn’t put some form of temporary restriction on it for the duration of the bridge works – they have the powers.

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  2. What is your point here, Richard, apart from repeating your well rehearsed rant about ‘rat runs’ through your back yard? This is a temporary situation whilst the bridge is being repaired so I think we all have to just put up with it. One man’s rat run is another man’s alternative route and funneling all traffic onto a single road just creates a jam that is in nobody’s interest (think increased carbon emissions caused by standing traffic as well as a whole lot of delay and frustration). I largely walk and cycle, personally, but how many residents of Bailbrook Lane, Deadmill Lane and Ferndale Rd. are themselves jumping into the car to get around the city, I wonder? It’s a question of balance rather than protecting one’s personal space, and whilst I agree that we need a Park & Ride this side of the city, that massive trucks should be re-routed away from the city and that where possible people should use buses, bikes and legs, it’s not always possible and inevitably people will avoid the busiest roads when they need to drive. I’m in favour of keeping the traffic moving during this difficult summer period, even if it means increased traffic past my front door.

    I wish you would keep your communications to the informative – which I am keen to receive – rather than sharing your opinions. This is not intended for publication, by the way.

    Regards,

    Rebecca

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