'Let's find creative ways to tackle this traffic curse'

November 01 2016

LIVELY debate took place at a public forum attended by over 100 residents to discuss traffic issues on their streets.

LIVELY debate took place at a public forum attended by over 100 residents  to discuss traffic issues on their streets. 

Locals from Bishopston, Ashley Down and Redland were encouraged to share the problems that they had on their roads and give opinions that they would like to see implemented. 

The event was organised by the Bishopston, Cotham and Redland Neighbourhood Partnership and the information gathered has been released in a interim report, pending the release of a full report in the future. As well as discussion there were presentations from Roger Gimson and Steve Ward, who shared the findings from a traffic survey carried out by volunteers from the SAFERoads campaign.

SAFERoads grew out of a campaign by Neil Wellman to get a one-way system for Dongola Road to tackle the issue of cars passing on the narrow road. The campaign has now significantly expanded to encompass Bishopston, Ashley Down and Redland and other possible solutions to congestion such as restricting parking and closing roads to through traffic.

At the meeting, residents were separated into groups according to areas. They then discussed issues they had in their roads and options for alleviating them. These options were on posters put up around the room. The participants recorded this information onto feedback forms that formed the basis of the report.

What was found was that there was a wide range of both problems that roads face as well as favoured solutions. The most common identified problem was that of drivers using smaller streets to avoid congested larger roads like Gloucester Road - also known as rat running.

Other major concerns included vehicles travelling too fast, lack of overnight parking and face-offs between drivers where the roads are too narrow for them to pass one another.

For the solutions there was a similar wide range of opinion, but overall, residents were in agreement that that closing roads to through traffic would be a good idea. This would mean creating quieter cul-de-sacs that would reduce the possibility of those roads being used as cut throughs. 

Councillor Eleanor Combley said: “I personally agree that blocking roads to traffic cutting through and allowing only pedestrian and cycle through routes would be a really positive step and would make our streets more liveable and lively. It would also encourage more people to feel safe to cycle or walk improving health and reducing congestion.”

Neil Wellman, who could not attend the meeting but submitted a statement, said that he disagreed with the idea cutting off through traffic saying that it would mean restricting access too much.

“I personally feel that all legal road users have a right to use our roads and the emphasis should not be on ‘impossible’ to cut-through, but instead on ‘impractical’ to cut-through,” he said.

Whether or not it is the right solution, it was acknowledged that it would be expensive and therefore difficult to implement. Councillor Combley said that it would be hard to say if and when such a scheme could actually happen due to the fact that only a small number of projects receive funding each year. Moreover, with highways funding currently under consultation it was impossible to say how much if any money the Neighbourhood Partnership would have to spend.

Councillor Tom Brook added: “Despite the financial issues, the Councillors and wider Neighbourhood Partnership will continue to campaign and push for improvements to the congestion situation in Bishopston and Ashley Down. In doing so we will continue to work with residents to ensure that their views as to what's best for their area are heard.”

The response from residents to the meeting was positive. Local PCSO, Jo Sibson said: “After several months of research and campaigning with SAFERoads, I was really pleased to see so many local residents attending the meeting - it highlights the fact that the problem of congestion is being felt everywhere in our area.

“It shows that there is a strong desire amongst the community to identify, and implement creative solutions that cut the problem of ‘through traffic’ for all of us. I was fascinated to see the proposals Steve Ward put forward, particularly the filtered one way systems, which look like they could be an answer.”

A full report is being created that will analyse all the data collected at the forum before future plans are decided. The next Combined Neighbourhood Forum will be at Colston's Primary School, Cotham Grove, on Monday 21 November at 7pm.

Resident Stephen Simpson felt the mood of the meeting was very constructive. He said: "It was heartening to see so many residents at the meeting. Although we all face different problems on our streets, and have a real diversity in our favoured solutions, there is clear agreement that something needs to be done urgently. 

"The superb analysis by Steve Ward from UWE based on our community traffic cordon surveys gave support for an excellent solution. By having a series of one-way and no through junctions, traffic can be calmed with little cost to the council. I am hopeful progress can be made very soon."