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Friday, 8 May 2020

Pedestrianisation should not be taking place in a vacuum.

We have just seen yet another traffic scheme experiment in the City Centre this one apparently aimed at proving the viability of a scheme to pedestrianise Milsom Street. We are concerned at this further example of the council's apparent fixations with pedestrianisation as a magic bullet for solving the problems traffic and pedestrian movement. We are concerned because:
We have yet to see any evidence that BANES have well a founded traffic management scheme. One-off closures of Milsom Street and Queen square have shown our doubts are not without foundation. The latest experiment involving putting more traffic up one of the cities worse polluted streets with some of the narrowest pavements has not been reassuring. Any pedestrianisation scheme needs to be part of a carefully thought through a traffic plan for the whole of the city centre to avoid unintended consequences elsewhere in the city. We have yet to see such a scheme. This traffic management plan needs to encompass more than just traditional traffic issues and in addition cover, the range of things address by the late lamented Public Realm and Movement Strategy.
Pedestrianisation will create numerous problems for city centre residents ranging from loss of parking to problems with access. A large number of people live in the city and nobody seems to accord them and their needs any priority in pedestrianisation experiments or longer-term schemes. There are many residents and visitors with impaired/variable mobility and energy, who don’t meet Blue Badge criteria but would be adversely affected if the centre was pedestrianised. Accessibility for them appears to have been overlooked.
Most importantly this whole debate seems to be starting from the wrong end. We should be talking about how to improve the city centre for all those who live, work and visit. Pedestrianisation may have a role to play in these plans but it cannot and should not be seen as an end in itself.
It has been suggested that pedestrianisation is the magic bullet to improve air quality in the city centre. TARA has a long history of fighting to get improvements in air quality and this has shown us that the issue is much more complex than this and those advocating extensive pedestrianisation need to acknowledge this or we will fail to have the result that we would all wish to see. This is particularly true if we move from our current focus on NOX to the much more dangerous small-particulate pollution. 

Perhaps Banes should be focussing in the immediate future on getting in place the CAZ and if they really want to reduce the number of polluting vehicles implement option D rather than the weaker option C.

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