At a ​time​ of cuts – new bus route for Julian Road?

At a ​time​ of cuts – new bus route for Julian Road?

As bus users in Bath brace themselves for more cuts in services – are we about to see a new bus route passing through Julian Road?

Jenny Noad writes to tell me:

I walk to work along Julian Road and opposite the vets/newsagents there is a very handy bay where you can park for free for 30 mins to visit the laundrette/co-op/vet/Happy Days garden shop. I couldn’t believe it this morning when I saw BANES cones stopping cars from parking there due to a NEW BUS SHELTER being installed!
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The limited parking lay-by​ in Julian Road. Photowas taken​n by Jenny Noad.

Firstly, I have never, even seen a bus go along Julian Road, secondly a new bus shelter means a new bus route? With temperatures rising about impending bus cuts, (the 6A is being cut up the hill to my house in Fairfield Park) so a new bus route would enrage me!
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The no parking notice. The photo​ was taken by Jenny Noad.

Also, does that mean you have to park and pay now for just popping into the shops above ! I took photos if you want to see them! Thought you may know about this and could offer clarification! Sorry, I feel like Mrs Angry on a Happy Friday day 🙂
However, it seems we do have buses using that road.
A spokesperson for B&NES has told me:

“There are bus services running along Julian Road, and have been for many years. There are bus stops at regular intervals along the road.

Eastbound – Service 20C runs hourly to Bath city centre and University of Bath, service 701 runs hourly to Bath city centre and Oldfield Park, and service 700 runs four times a day to Bath city centre

Westbound – Service 20A runs hourly to RUH and Twerton, service 701 runs hourly to Sion Hill, and service 700 runs four times a day to Bath city centre

Full information on these and other buses is available on www.travelinesw.com . Real time information for these and most other buses in Bath is available on a smartphone app – full details at www.travelwest.info .”

Also, please scroll down through the comments below and you will learn more. Thanks to Virginia Knight and Arnold Root for their contributions.
Could a Swiss city show Bath the way?

Could a Swiss city show Bath the way?

Congestion campaigners in Bath have been watching a video – uploaded on Vimeo – which shows how the Swiss city of Zurich is dealing with its traffic problems.

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A still from the on-line Vimeo video produced by Streetfilms.

Entitled ‘Zurich: Where people are welcome and cars are not’ it is an interesting take on smart city planning to make living and working in a city much more of a pleasant experience.

I do suggest both officers and councillors at B&NES sit back and take note – and then get together and show that Bath can also do something radical.

Here’s the link:

Bath to consider city-wide parking zones.

Bath to consider city-wide parking zones.

What may turn out to be one of the most important meetings of local councillors this year, takes place in Bath next Monday.

It could mark the start of changes to get more of us city dwellers out of our cars and onto the buses.

Plus the introduction of a new type of day parking zone which would provide B&NES with more revenue, better public transport services and go someway to reduce congestion and pollution.

Monday’s meeting of what is being called the Parking Policy Working Group will bring together couincillors and council officers to discuss a proposal put forward by local campaigner Adam Reynolds who has come up with what he says is a ‘first’ for Bath.

cyclebath adam reynolds

Adam Reynolds who is Chair of CycleBath.

No city in the world has considered city wide parking zones,’ says Adam. His proposal is summed up as to:

Introduce Resident Friendly City Wide Day Parking Zones, keeping the current Resident Parking Zones, that specifically targets commuter/day parking on Bath’s residential roads, getting people out of cars, and providing the Council with much needed revenue to invest in public transport and our road network.’

Here is what he outlined to the Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel on Monday December 4th.

“On Monday the 4th of December, 2017 Adam Reynolds made a statement at the Communities, Transport and Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Panel https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=554&MId=5148 proposing a new type of parking zone to solve Bath’s congestion and air pollution crisis while providing significant funds to the Council to enable investment in transport.

The proposal

Introduce Resident Friendly City Wide Day Parking Zones, keeping the current Resident Parking Zones, that specifically targets commuter/day parking on Bath’s residential roads, getting people out of cars, and providing the Council with much needed revenue to invest in public transport and our road network.

Copy of City Wide Resident Friendly Day Parking Zones

The Objectives

  • Provide Council with revenue to invest in better public transport – including free public transport for school children  and support more bus routes.

  • Reduce the cost of travelling in by public transport from outside the city, i.e. Bath Outer Zone pass should cost the same as an Inner Zone Pass.

  • Enable the Council to invest in active travel and public realm improvements.

  • Discourage car ingres into the city and encourage people to leave their cars at home.

  • Use revenue to make parking in the the city more expensive than coming to the city by public transport.

  • Have little or no impact on day to day business or residents.

  • Recognise that there is always going to be a need for some people to use cars and to facilitate this.

  • Reduce car use on our roads by 20% similar to what happened when London’s congestion zone was introduced. Note that the introduction of free public transport for school children should also help to tackle congestion as 30% of our rush hour traffic is estimated to be the school run.

  • Discourage car ownership in the city by residents that do not pay council tax (i.e. students).

The Issues

  • 29,000 people commute by car to the city daily, of which 9,000 are Bath residents driving to work in Bath (Census 2011 data).

  • 100+ people deaths yearly in BaNES linked to Air Pollution and Obesity.

  • Congestion costs Bath’s businesses £9.9M per year.

  • £18.2M of free parking (using current Park and Ride Monthly bus pass cost of £66) is given away by the council each year.

How Day Parking Zones would work

  1. Keeping the current Resident Parking Zones, Day Parking Zones would be applied across the whole city, including Batheaston/Bathampton.

  2. Council Tax paying residents would be issued with up to two free Day Parking Zones for the DPZ they live in.

  3. Anyone would be able to purchase an ANY Day Parking Zone permit at more than the cost of the cost of a monthly bus travel card (currently £66, so £70 per month).

  4. Issue free ANY DPZ permits to key workers (NHS staff working shift work etc.)

    City Wide Resident Friendly Day Parking Zones

Key Highlights

  • Students do not pay Council Tax and would thus be required to buy a ANY DPZ permit to be able to keep a car in the city.

  • Congestion is not linear. A small reduction in traffic can significantly reduce congestion. About 31% of rush hour commuters are local Bath Residents and these residents have greater travel choice than commuters coming from outside the city. Getting these commuters out of cars and onto buses, walking, or cycling will have a huge impact on congestion.

  • This type of shift will also require a rethink of our buses and the need for a Bus Key Network. We have three economic centres, Locksbrook/RUH, City Centre, and the University of Bath. Locksbrook/RUH and the University of Bath must be connected to Bath communities and Park and Rides to enable people to make the decision to leave their car at home.

  • This is a world first. No city in the world has considered city wide parking zones.

  • The more successful this is, the less revenue from parking, the more people using public transport. This is a good thing and a self-fulfilling prophecy that reduces congestion and air pollution while getting more people active.

  • Parking after 2pm would mean you do not have to move your car until 12pm the next day.

What Happens Next

The scrutiny panel made a decision to set up a Parking Policy Working Group consisting of council officers and Councillors Bob Simmons, John Bull, Michael Evans, Richard Samuel, and Ian Gilchrist (optionally) to discuss the proposal in detail. This is meeting on the 8th of January.

Bath Key Bus Network Map (3) (1)

 

Time for a coach congestion charge says BPT.

Time for a coach congestion charge says BPT.

B&NES new coach parking strategy for the city comes under fire – from heritage watchdogs –  Bath Preservation Trust –  for increasing pollution and congestion and impacting badly on central heritage sites.

It goes on to call for an end to ‘coach cruising’  where vehicles tour the city’s attraction and then leave to go straight on to their next tourist destination. They suggest a congestion charge might help reduce for such activity.

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The existing coach station.

In a response to the Council’s new Parking and Coach Parking Strategy the Trust questions why such a policy does not mention heritage, air quality and congestion?

In a statement – quoted below in full – BPT say they are critical of both strategies.

‘For many years BPT has supported Council initiatives which claim they wish to reduce traffic and congestion in Bath’s city centre. Bath needs a sustainable and effective transport system underpinned by affordable public transport and a walk/cycle culture.

But the Parking Strategy proposed intends to increase the amount of short-term parking in the centre which actually increases the flow of cars, and directly contradicts the aims of its Getting Around Bath Transport Strategy adopted in 2014.

BPT instead suggests more ‘Park & Link’ opportunities using smaller sites where people live plus improvements to public transport and the provision of incentives to use it, alongside cycling and walking options.

Bath deserves the best in parking technologies including digital messaging signage, responsive charges and frequencies, and creative out-of-town event parking management.

The new Coach Parking Strategy appears even less well considered. Initial consultations seem to have bypassed properly canvassing the views of residents and city groups and are skewed towards satisfying the convenience and wish lists of tourists and the coach business stakeholders.

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The drop off point BPT are worried will become more congested and polluted.

The Trust opposes an increase in bays at Terrace Walk (Bog Island) and Green Park where parked coaches already impact the vista of these sensitive historic areas and where more would simply increase the number of coach movements, leading to yet more congestion and pollution.

The Council has a financial interest in parking, and a greater one in short term parking than longer term. Yet the two strategies are not transparent – are in fact silent – about the financial consequences set against the traffic consequences.

Similarly, the Council should be dissuaded from tolerating more coach companies ‘cruising’ the sights of the upper town before racing to the next holiday attraction. Instead, the Trust is calling for tighter regulations and consideration of a congestion charge for those coaches who bring no economic benefit to the city.

It is telling that BPT observes the phrase ‘environmental impact’ only once and the total absence of the words heritage, air quality and congestion in the 10 page summary document.

The Trust’s detailed responses to these consultations can be found at:
http://www.bath-preservation-trust.org.uk/parking’

Bath Newseum has asked B&NES to comment on this statement.

 

Meanwhile the Chairman of the Federation of Bath Residents’ Association, Robin Kerr, has sent Bath Newseum a copy of a letter sent to the Leader of B&NES, Cllr Tim Warren.

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Robin Kerr

It welcomes the Bath Air Quality Action Plan but warns that unless the council actually implements these measures ‘nothing will change.’

However the Federation is also critical of plans for coaches. Here is the part of the letter dealing with them.

” 8. By contrast, the coach parking strategy is totally flawed. It fails to recognise the severe adverse impact of coach traffic on the city, to analyse the contribution that coaches are claimed to make to the economy, or to attempt to strike any kind of balance between the two. Essentially, the approach has been to ask what the coach operators, drivers and passengers want, and accommodate them without regard to the impact on the city or its residents. Surveys were conducted of the views of coach companies, drivers and passengers, but none of Bath residents. In the view of many residents (and some businesses), coaches are a plague.

9. The strategy proposes that coaches should continue to come into the very heart of the city and drop off just metres from some of the Key Elements of the World Heritage Site such as the Roman Baths, the Abbey and North Parade. Coach demand is forecast to increase by 24% by 2026, but the strategy seems to suggest that this increase is simply to be accommodated. These proposals are completely incompatible with Council’s policies to cut air pollution and reduce traffic, especially

in the historic core, and a wasted opportunity to improve our city. Coach drop-offs should be provided at locations outside the city centre, within a reasonable walking distance of it. We do welcome the creation of a coach park at Odd Down.

10. The proposal to put four to six new coach bays on Green Park Road is particularly egregious. It would gobble up a valuable green space and ruin the riverside setting of Green Park, which is used by young children including a growing number of visiting school groups.

11. The strategy should be widened to cover all aspects of the presence of coaches in Bath, including illegal parking, engines left running, and the movement of coaches through the historic core of the city. Restrictions should be placed on the streets that can be used by coaches within this area, such as High Street. The coach ban currently in force in Brock Street should be extended to Bennet Street and Gay Street. Coaches are not generally permitted to come into the historic core of York, an excellent model for Bath.

12. We strongly urge you to reject the draft Coach strategy and direct that a revised one is prepared which is consistent with the traffic reduction aims of the Core Strategy, PMP, Transport Strategy and the PRMS, and with the requirement which has been placed on the Council to bring air pollution inside the legal limit as soon as possible. Coaches must be managed, not simply accommodated.”

Buses

Buses

A message – and point of view – from Bob Draper…..

‘Come on Bathonians – Get out your angle grinders & welding torches….!

Having seen someone almost swept off their feet on the lower pavement on the north side of George St. by the front overhang of a tourist bus coming up from Queen Square  I wondered who controls these behemoths of Bath’s narrow streets? 

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One of Bath’s bright coloured tourist buses on its way down Milsom Street.

 Is it the local council or the Traffic Commissioners?

At every corner & junction these gargantuans of the tourist trade have to stop and wait for opposing traffic to clear so that they can swing out on tho opposite side of the road in order to make the corner. there is an irony in the in the winter months that the load factors are often so low a Smart car would be sufficient!

 For the sake of pedestrian safety maybe buses should fitted with some of these:

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Maybe Bath Newseum readers would like to suggest what would be a suitable size of vehicle for Bath’s clogged arteries’?

Bob Draper, Bath.

Ben urges B&NES to sort out the traffic.

Ben urges B&NES to sort out the traffic.

Bath’s city roads are now operating at maximum capacity – says the city’s MP Ben Howlett – and that means any accident or obstruction within the system is causing chaos.

He’s jumped into the traffic issue fray by urging B&NES  to pull its finger out and take measures to ease things.

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London Road traffic.

Mr Howlett says Bath city centre has seen even worse congestion than normal in recent days. 

In a statement he says, “It is increasingly clear that the city’s roads are at maximum capacity and that any accident, or obstruction causes widespread traffic issues.  I am therefore calling on the Council to place renewed energy behind the Integrated Transport Strategy, which has received cross party support, to improve cycle paths, create safer non-car routes to schools and facilitate a stronger focus on walking in the city.  

I also urge the Council to take the long overdue decision on the park and ride to the East of the city to reduce the volume of traffic entering the city from that side.  The West of England Local Enterprise Partnership received £2.3M on encouraging more people to leave their cars outside of the city and I would like to see these fund spent to the benefit of Bath residents, businesses and commuters alike.

Ben Howlett MP

Ben Howlett, MP for Bath.

I strongly believe it is also time to get on and build the long overdue A36/46 link road to relieve the volume of through traffic and therefore begin to relieve congestion to the eastern side of Bath. 

Plans for the A36/46 link road are already being discussed with Highways England, Local Authorities and the West of England Combined Authority following a meeting with the new Transport Minister last month.  My own petition has now received over 2000 responses and announcements are due shortly on the next steps towards this vital infrastructure project. 

I hope in light of the severe traffic issues seen recently that the Council will take urgent remedial action to address the situation, alongside implementing longer term strategic initiatives and infrastructure projects to bring Bath’s roads back from their current capacity status”.

 

Making Bath roads work.

Making Bath roads work.

A recent meeting of the full B&NES Council found plenty of opposition groups vying for attention outside the Guildhall. One of them was a group of cyclists concerned that trader pressure for additional loading bay spaces was going to rob those on two wheels from a cycle track which provided them with some protection from the dangerous London Road.

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Protestors gathered outside Bath Guildhall.

Within the city is an organisation called CycleBath – a community of bike riders who campaign for making space for cyclists so that – according to their online website – ‘cycling – a truly democratic form of transport as well as exercise, sport and leisure – can be enjoyed by anyone, from 8 to 80+.’

cyclebath adam reynolds

Adam Reynolds who is Chair of CycleBath.

The Chair of the organisation is Adam Reynolds who has kindly written a piece for Bath Newseum in which he states his concerns for the provision of cycling space, expensive and ineffective proposals to ease congestion and what he thinks is a lack of enthusiasm for doing anything new and invigorating on the transport scene.

His article can be read below. I am sure he would welcome your comments.

Bathxit

As Chair of CycleBath, you would think that I spend most of my time campaigning for cycle infrastructure and addressing cycling related issues. These days it’s more about fighting for segregated space for the most vulnerable road users. That means campaigning for separate space within schemes for walking, for cycling, and for driving. You do not share.

Spending years trying to understand this area has lead me to learning how you design road space within urban and rural environments to deliver good ‘livable’ streets that create cohesive, good community spaces. Primarily it’s keeping up with what does or does not work around the world and applying it to “what if” scenarios, primarily to the City of Bath.

The Political Void Bath suffers

With every, and I do mean EVERY successful scheme, it comes down to one thing. A political leader with a vision to push hard, really hard, against what people are comfortable with. A political leader supported by other politicians, able to push for what they want within the Council’s senior officers.

We live in a fantastic city. A city that is world renowned for its beautiful Georgian architecture, the fabulous Roman Baths, horrendous traffic, and poor air quality. A city dominated by, what can only be described as, a plague of cars.

A city measured by its Outstanding Universal Value that must be protected to retain its world heritage site status. A city that has been threatened with losing its world heritage status as the OUV degrades due to congestion. A city that needs a strong political class with a vision for what the city should be and prepared to protect and increase the OUV.

Yet, politically, the decisions we make are not for the city of Bath. They are made for Bath and North East Somerset, and of more concern, decisions about the city, the decisions that should protect and enhance the OUV of the city, are made by a council cabinet, where only one member lives within the city.

At a fundamental level we have a city, where decisions are made that cannot impact external wards negatively. A city that operates within a political void where the OUV of the city is sacrificed at the altar of votes.

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/d/de/BANES_wards_2015.svg

So when 8 different working groups at the recent Transport consultation day proposed congestion charging, something proven worldwide to reduce congestion, we have a Council who will not act upon this proposal as this has a negative effect on external wards while increasing the OUV of the city.

London Road

London Road

They can, however, propose a £10million park and ride that would at most reduce the number of cars driving down London Road by 1 per minute. Politically that works with the rural wards but fails miserably for the city. In fact, it will reduce the OUV of the city.

We have a cabinet member for Transport living in Colerne stating that he wants to make it easier for cars to travel north to south through the city of Bath, something that would reduce the OUV of the city. A policy that encourages car use. 

Something that is known in transport as “Induced Demand” where you end up with more congestion at the end of the day. Sustainable cities around the world are making it harder not easier, to get around cities by car. That’s not to say they make it impossible.

A cabinet member that has instructed council officers to consider walking and cycling a key part of schemes. Then cancels a pedestrian crossing 14 years in the making on Bathwick Hill, connecting Combe Down to the University, despite every objection being countered by officers stating how the large numbers pedestrians and cyclists showed the need for the crossing. A decision where car traffic flow was prioritised over walking and cycling. A decision that reduced the OUV of the city.

A decision where car traffic flow was prioritised over walking and cycling. A decision that reduced the OUV of the city.

We truly have a city with a political void. Where decisions are made that do not negatively impact wards outside of the city to preserve the power base of the Conservatives.

So how do we fix Bath politically? How do we move forward into a place where brave decisions can be made about Bath, and only Bath, without interference from councillors who need to pander to their wards outside of Bath. A decision process focused on increasing the OUV of the city.

The only way I can see this happening is to have each community forum have transport decisions devolved down to them, with ward councillors from each community heavily involved in the decision making. 

Fixing Bath’s problems in other counties

A council likes playing in its own backyard. It’s known as Localism. It keeps things simple. So during the Transport consultation, many people proposed the idea of small satellite park and ride sites near to places like Corsham using existing bus services. 

The advantages to this approach are that it significantly reducing road miles by discouraging people driving to the edge of the city. It’s also very cost effective and very quick to implement. In fact, it can be simply a case of identifying an existing underused car park/wasteland area and creating a new bus stop with special ticket prices.

B&NES is quite happy opening up Saltford train station, but a more effective station to open would be Corsham.

Talk to the council about any of these and the response is, “Oh but that is Wiltshire”.

Suggest sorting out the Gorse Lane/Freezing Hill dog leg with two mini-roundabouts, with better signage up by the M4 to direct people to the Lansdown Park and Ride.

Talk to the council about doing this,  “Oh but that is South Glos. We don’t give money away”.

Bath has many transport issues, but let’s be clear, a hell of a lot of the problems are solved in other counties. A council unable to see beyond this because of a pigheaded “We only play in B&NES” attitude will never get to grips with Bath’s transport problems. This results in proposals like the East Park and Ride. A sub-par solution that negatively impacts the OUV of the city. Let’s not forget it’s also a vote winner with external wards.

Focusing on real congestion solutions

It’s all well and good me criticising but you should also be prepared to offer solutions.

The title of Bath’s Transport Strategy “Getting around Bath” implies making it easier to travel around Bath for all modes of transport. We are at peak car. Nothing we can do to our road system will help get more cars around Bath without paving over the river.

Even the proposed A36/A46 bypass completely ignores the big congestion issues on the western side of Bath, particularly, the A4 to A36 city through traffic.

Bath’s Transport Strategy should be renamed “Getting Bath Active” with a focus on walking, cycling and public transport. A focus on reducing car use in the city and reduction of through traffic. A focus on protecting and increasing the OUV of the city. A strategy that sets targets. A strategy that asks of the council “What type of city do we want to live in?”

The current focus within the council chambers and council departments is around managing the current volumes of traffic and making the roads more efficient. They are trying to build dams inch by inch while the flood waters rise foot by foot.

We should be open to solutions that have worked around the world and adopt them. When you look around the world at what has truly worked at reducing congestion, there are really only three ideas that make significant in-roads into congestion.

Parking control.

When Bristol introduces the RPZ in Clifton, P&R use shot up 20%. Nottingham is using the Workplace Parking Levy to deliver its £9m tram system. Zurich set a legal cap on car parking in the city, then built underground car parks, forcing the removal of much of the on-street parking in central districts.

A radical solution would be to introduce Bath wide parking control with 90% discounted resident permits, commuter permits, and use of the workplace parking levy. Providing a phone app to enable residents to police their own roads and summon a parking officer as needed. This recognises the inherent value of on-street parking and encourages people to use park and ride facilities.

London Road cycleway

A distant van blocks the very poor cycleway provision on the London Road

Congestion Charging

A A36/A46 bypass would reduce traffic on London Road by about 30% and cost £90m. The introduction of congestion charging in London, reduced congestion by 20%. Introducing congestion charging in Bath could reduce congestion by similar levels. This may not sound much, but consider that the school run is considered to be 23% of rush hour traffic. A more intelligent approach to congestion charging, say by only implementing a “congestion through charge” could also be considered where driving through the city in under an hour would result in a charge.

Making a city livable

When we look at a city, we need to understand how we make it more livable. How we tame the streets. How we remove the dominance of the car on our streets. This is why Lower Borough Walls works so well, but Seven Dials fails so miserably. LBW uses filtered priority (bollards) to restrict car access while Seven Dials is a through road. Businesses on LBW objected to the filtered priority during the consultation process, now they complain if the bollards are down. Making a city livable is profitable.

Closing residential roads using bollards can completely and utterly change a community. Many of these roads are rat runs. Many are roads where parents do not let their kids play. By making access to homes more convoluted for vehicles, it changes the space into “living streets”. It makes it a quiet street. A place where children can play safely. A place where walking in the road is possible. Where popping over the road to chat with your neighbour feels like running the gauntlet.

Show me the money

As with anything done within the council, it comes down to money. Congestion charging and parking control are profitable. By ring-fencing money generated to transport, in particular supporting better cheaper public transport links, we encourage people to switch from car to public transport. Even making streets liveable is indirectly profitable. 

Conclusion

During the recent transport consultation, 8 different working groups proposed the same solution to Bath’s traffic. A congestion charge to discount public transport and deliver more walking and cycling infrastructure. It’s cheap and immediately effective and provides a revenue stream that enables the council to deliver better transport solutions.

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Rush hour traffic coming into Bath on the London Road

However, a Cabinet of councillors mostly living in wards external to Bath will never act in the best interests of the city of Bath. It would impact their voter base too much. Bath operates within a political void where the residents are not in control of their own destiny. Where decisions are made to try and increase the conservative vote in the city while preserving the votes in the external wards.

We have senior council officers who will not consider what’s best for the city if it means paying another council to deliver the solution. Officers wed to the principles of maximising traffic flow when the evidence backed solutions from other cities around the world are focused on modal equality (providing segregated walking, cycling and driving space) and reducing traffic flow in cities).
We need a Bathxit. We need devolved decision makers that can make the brave decisions that will deliver a sustainable, beautiful city, and not the car-choked city it currently is. Decisions that are politically hard but are proven to work. We need to protect and increase the Outstanding Universal Value that makes this city a world-renowned heritage site.

We need to protect and increase the Outstanding Universal Value that makes this city a world-renowned heritage site.