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Agenda item

Traffic Management including Lendal Bridge trial restrictions

Minutes:

Councillor Douglas introduced Ruth Stevenson and Simon Parrett from the Sustainable Transport department at CYC, who were attending to give a presentation and answer residents’ questions about the trial traffic restrictions on Lendal Bridge.

 

Ruth Stevenson began by giving a presentation outlining the rationale for the trial, and the following points were highlighted:

-      Proposed investment of approximately £40m in the city centre, particularly around the Theatre Royal, Exhibition Square and Duncombe Place. A reduction in traffic in this area would support this.

-      There was an expectation based on studies from other cities around Europe that a general improvement in public spaces in the city centre would benefit the economy.

-      Traffic levels are expected to increase in the future, and there needs to be a plan in place to deal with this. The proposed trial would look to secure improvements to the reliability of bus services, and to develop the public transport system.

-      External funding has also been received to develop the bus services and other sustainable transport improvements.

In summary, the two main aims of the trial would be to improve the areas around Exhibition Square and Duncombe Place with a reduction in traffic, and to enhance the reliability of the bus services.

 

Ruth noted that Lendal Bridge is a heavily pedestrianised area, and the majority of traffic crossing the bridge did so either on foot, by bike or by bus. The trial aimed to improve the traffic congestion by restricting car travel over the bridge. She advised that the trial would last for at least six months (though less if there were significant problems occurring), and would begin in August. Priority access would be given to buses, cycles, pedestrians and emergency vehicles. Taxis would also be given access, but for the purposes of the trial period only. Restrictions would be in place during the current footstreet hours of 10.30am to 5pm, and would be enforced using ANPR cameras.

 

Ruth then outlined a number of mitigation strategies to deal with potential issues. She noted that there was a significant amount of detail still to work out in relation to the trial, and a working group had been set up specifically to undertake this. Residents were encouraged to forward any queries or comments about the trial to the email address – lendalbridge@york.gov.uk.

 

Simon Parrett then gave a presentation to residents on the predicted effects that the trial would have on traffic flow across the rest of the city. He advised that data had been taken from the 2011 traffic model and that potential increases had been calculated for all major routes into the city. It was noted that there was a relatively small traffic increase predicted for the other bridges in both the morning and afternoon peak times.

 

Areas which were expected to have the most increase in traffic flow, which included Clifton Green, would be monitored and traffic signals altered to try and ease the flow as much as possible.

 

Questions were invited from residents about the presentation and proposals, and the following points were noted.

 

* Residents asked whether it was policy to use residential roads as diversionary routes off main roads, as was the case with The Avenue and Westminster Road, as the Highway Design Code restricted this.
It was confirmed that it was not policy to use residential roads as “rat runs”, though it was recognised that this was an inevitable issue. Simon noted that by trying to identify what were the potential issues now, through modelling, they were looking at ways to mitigate this during the trial, through actions such as altering traffic signals to ease flow where possible.

 

* In response to concerns about the inevitability of extra traffic and “rat-running”, Councillor King asked if the trial period could also include a blocking off of The Avenue and Westminster Avenue except for access. It was noted that a previous consultation had resulted in the majority of residents not being in favour of blocking the roads. Councillor King argued, however, that this had been based on flawed data, as the questions put to residents had not indicated where on the roads the blocks would be. Ruth advised that this issue would be a part of the monitoring focus. It was agreed that there was a political decision to be made here, and that if current mitigation strategies failed to manage the situation, it would need to be revisited.

 

* Councillor Scott asked how the modelling had been calculated, as previous computer models had been criticised as inaccurate by the ombudsman. It was agreed that there needed to be a confidence in the modelling and that there was sufficient monitoring of the situation. Councillors agreed that they needed to be sure that planned mitigation strategies were sufficient, and that there was a proper set of criteria for evaluation. In addition, Councillors asked that air quality in Clifton, particularly around the green, be monitored as part of the trial. Simon noted that there was a network of diffusion tubes in place to monitor air quality, though the impact assessment may not give accurate feedback due to the length of the trial. He advised that they were also looking at further models to assess this issue.

 

* A number of residents commended the trial, noting that it would be a positive move in promoting the city as a whole. A representative from Clifton Green Primary School noted that they supported the reasons behind the trial, and felt that it would be a good way of encouraging the children to use more sustainable methods of transport. A question was raised, however, that given the potential increase in traffic, whether funding could be provided for a crossing patrol in front of the school.

 

* A question was raised about whether special dispensation would be given in the trial for businesses around Lendal Bridge and Exhibition Square. It was confirmed that no dispensation would be given, and that anyone wishing to access Lendal, Duncombe Place and Exhibition Square would have to use an alternative route. Ruth Stevenson advised that a liaison group had been set up specifically to consult with businesses, recognising the potential impact the trial may have, and working to address these.

 

* In response to a question about success measures, Ruth advised that these were difficult to predict before the trial had taken place, recognising that traffic would improve in some areas, whilst some would see a traffic increase. She noted that a reduction in bus journey times and traffic levels on the network as a whole would be among a number of factors to assess overall. She advised that there was a certain subjective element, but that there had been no final decision about what data would be used to determine success. It was noted, however, that a full consultation with residents and businesses would form part of the process.

 

 

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