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.