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Council unveils roadmaps to cut vehicle use, improve health and tackle the Climate Emergency

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Ambitious roadmaps to tackle the Climate Emergency and improve people’s health by reducing vehicle use, promoting active travel and creating liveable communities are to be considered by Bath & North East Somerset Council. 

The council has developed three complimentary strategies for low traffic neighbourhoods, residents’ parking schemes and electric vehicle charging. The proposed strategies will go before the council’s Climate Emergency & Sustainability Policy Development & Scrutiny Panel on Monday 20 July.  If supported residents will be able to have their say during a public consultation later this summer. 

Councillor Sarah Warren, joint cabinet member for Climate Emergency and Neighbourhoods, said: “When we declared a Climate Emergency within Bath and North East Somerset last year, we pledged to do everything we could to help the district become carbon neutral by 2030. This requires transformational change and we need to employ a wide range of initiatives to deliver on our commitment. 

“These strategies build on national and international best practice and are designed to help cut congestion, improve air quality, and reduce vehicle intrusion in residential neighbourhoods while encouraging more active travel.  They not only support our vision of creating better places that promote public transport use and active travel with less reliance on cars, but also the government’s aim of decarbonising transport.”

The strategies have been developed over many months, with much of the work carried out before the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the knock-on effects of coronavirus have brought into sharp focus the need for long -term change.

Councillor Joanna Wright, joint cabinet member for Transport, said: “As a result of the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown we’ve seen what a difference a reduction in traffic makes to communities, how much cleaner the air is and how much more pleasant it is to walk and cycle. Social distancing has also highlighted the fact that many of our pavements are too narrow and road space disproportionately allocated in favour of vehicles. 

“We’ve learned a great deal and people are making more active travel choices. We now have an opportunity to build on that momentum in what may prove to be a once in a generation opportunity to achieve long-term change.”

Low Traffic Neighbourhood Strategy: Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are designed to create safer, cleaner, quieter environments based on the principles of Healthy Streets Work.  By reducing the dominance of through traffic, encouraging and improving conditions for walking and cycling, improving access to public transport and enhancing community spaces, healthier spaces are created for communities.

Created in consultation with local residents to respond to specific issues or opportunities, low traffic neighbourhoods typically see several streets grouped and organised in a way to discourage through-vehicle traffic or “rat-running”. This is achieved through various measures, including:

  • modal filtering of residential streets using bollards, width gates, bus gates or planters
  • public realm enhancements, such as shared space, parklets and green infrastructure
  • time-limited access restrictions through school streets blended / “Copenhagen” crossings to reinforce pedestrian and cyclist priority in an area.

The idea is to create safer, cleaner, quieter environments based on the principles of Healthy Streets Work.  principles, where people choose to walk or cycle and feel safe and relaxed.

In January 2020 more than 250 residents took part in a discussion about how to create low traffic neighbourhoods in Bath and North East Somerset and heard from Councillor Clyde Loakes deputy leader of Waltham Forest Council in North London about how significant improvements to air quality, active travel and improvements to peoples well-being had been created by introducing low traffic neighbourhoods.

This discussion helped inform the council’s Low Traffic Neighbourhood strategy.  It sets out the approach for identifying and taking forward low traffic neighbourhood proposals, highlights the vital importance of working with communities on the development and design of schemes and details eligibility criteria. The strategy also outlines how schemes will be considered within the wider context of the B&NES transport vision and integrated with other local and regional programmes.

Residents Parking Schemes Strategy: 

Residents’ parking schemes aim to give priority to permanent residents over commuters and visitors to a neighbourhood, particularly those with limited off-street parking facilities. Relocating non-local vehicles to more appropriate sites such as Park & Ride and managing on-street parking also helps to create an environment which better encourages walking and cycling. The revised Residents Parking Schemes Strategy sets out the council’s vision and approach to implementing these schemes and highlights the need for them to be considered alongside low traffic neighbourhood proposals. 

Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy:

Electric vehicles will play a vital role in improving air quality in B&NES and the provision of on-street electric vehicle charging points will form an important part of the overall package of measures required to encourage use of zero- and low-emission vehicles.

The introduction of low traffic neighbourhoods will offer an opportunity for fresh thinking on how road space in residential neighbourhoods is used and is likely to bring new opportunities to deliver on-street EV charging. 

The Electric Vehicle Charging Strategy sets out the council’s current position and future strategy on public on-street electric vehicle (EV) charging. It outlines the council’s approach to developing an on-street network, focussing on the challenges of meeting demand and the options for provision.

To view the report visit:

https://democracy.bathnes.gov.uk/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=636&MId=5538  

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