I am not surprised to hear that B&NES has decided to make permanent the temporary restrictions on vehicles, other than buses, using Milsom Street between 10am and 6pm.
An experimental traffic order to prioritise access for buses and restrict vehicles was introduced in 2021 to make the road a more pleasant environment for pedestrians and cyclists through the removal of motor traffic. This followed a temporary restriction that was brought in during 2020 as part of various measures across Bath to help with social distancing.
Following a thorough evaluation of the scheme, a decision has been taken to make the restriction permanent. Traffic other than buses cannot use the road up to the junction with Quiet Street between 10am and 6pm.
Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for Transport, said: “We have been monitoring the temporary restriction since we introduced it in June 2020. We have spoken to and considered feedback from residents, businesses, bus operators and stakeholders, including Blue Badge holders, in order to weigh up views very carefully before making this decision.
“Without a doubt preventing vehicles other than buses along Milsom Street has made for a much more pleasant, less congested and much safer space. Feedback from the bus operators has been very positive and while it is not directly provable if the closure has had a direct impact, it is reassuring to see retail units are almost at full occupancy for the first time in two years.
“However, this decision also affects people with disabilities and deliveries. Due to changes in various roads in the city centre, we commissioned an independent accessibility study and listened to concerns. We have made several adjustments to assist people with limited mobility, as well as businesses and residents with their deliveries, which we believe balances the impact of the 10am-6pm restriction while keeping the benefits that a congestion-free Milsom Street has enjoyed.”
The following changes have been made:
- Installing five additional Blue Badge parking bays in New Bond Street and two new blue badge parking bays on Quiet Street (taking the total number of spaces in this area from four to 11)
- Improving the pedestrian route between Broad Street car park and Milsom Street
- Allowing Dial-a-Ride Community Transport access to Milsom Street to drop off and pick up passengers during operating hours
- New ‘parklets’ installed which provides additional seating along the street
- Replacement street furniture with back rests and arm rests along the length of the street, including an additional bench at the top of Milsom Street
All those who responded to the consultation on the experimental restriction will be notified about the decision. It also explains that allowing Blue Badge holders as an exemption would re-introduce additional traffic in the street and that it would not be possible to monitor, or limit the exemption, to picking up or dropping off within the street itself, meaning the street could be again used as a through route, especially by taxis. Those with visual or balance disabilities find it easier and safer with the traffic reduced to just buses, and the council has had to balance the competing requirements of all disabilities.
Councillor Rigby added: “Although it is no longer possible for vehicles to park or drop off/pick up passengers in Milsom Street between 10am and 6pm, we have provided additional Blue Badge parking bays less than 50 metres away in Quiet Street and approximately 70 metres away in New Bond Street. Using John Street and Quiet Street as an alternative access, it is still possible for a vehicle displaying a Blue Badge to drop off or pick up within 30 metres of the bottom of Milsom Street.”
The decision report says buses can now get through the first cycle of the traffic signals in New Bond Street and that not having vehicles manoeuvring in and out of parking spaces means they can easily pull into the bus stop and are not obstructed. Both of these factors reduce journey times and increase reliability of journey times.
The decision report states that since the Experimental TRO came into effect in November 2021 there has been specific growth in food and beverage businesses in the street, most of which have explored options for outdoor seating now that the street is a more pleasant environment.
One retailer, which has moved into premises in Milsom Street, was very positive about the access restriction and the new parklet outside their unit. The access restriction also supports a programme of events and activities as part of the High Street Renewal Programme.
You can find a map of Blue Badge parking spaces here:https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/media/4479