On May 13th Mayor of London, Boris Johnson visited the local area and spent some time chatting to Michelle Donelan (who is standing to be the next Member of Parliament for the Chippenham constituency which covers Chippenham, Corsham, Bradford on Avon, Melksham and the surrounding villages) who, on her blog, states how she asked Johnson for his thoughts about investing in a local bike hire scheme in Bradford on Avon to ease the congestion problems faced in the town.
Traffic congestion is a serious concern for residents and businesses Bradford on Avon. I have been listening to their frustrations and I share their concerns about it and the impact on air pollution in our town. One idea could be a cycle scheme similar to the London Boris Bikes. This won’t be suitable for everyone and there will costs, although in London that is heavily subsidised by sponsorship. We also have the hills to contend with so we might have to look at ideas around electric bikes.
Bradford on Avon Town Council have spent a lot of time studying a Traffic Survey that they hope will identify for them where the traffic is moving to and from when it causes congestion in the centre of town. In April a post to ‘Bradford on Avon Matters’ suggested that we would soon find out what action needs to be taken to help reduce the traffic and its impact on the town.
Chair of the Bradford on Avon Air Quality Alliance, Cllr Rosemary Brown, said: “We have been waiting for a long time to get a better understanding of the facts about the town’s traffic issues. The traffic study will provide the detail we need. And the valuable work undertaken by volunteers and groups during the extensive Priority for People consultations will then help us put some detailed proposals together that may finally enable us to deliver improvements.”
On May 16th Peter Duford posted to Bradfordonavon.com that the Bradford on Avon Area Board had agreed its priorities for 2014-2016 at its meeting on 14 May based on the evidence from the Joint Strategic Assessment for Bradford on Avon and voting outcomes from the “What Matters To You in Bradford on Avon” event held across the town in February.
Included in these priorities was:
-To respond to the findings of the Traffic Study, including developing new traffic management and signage strategies across the community area and beyond
I very much doubt that Boris Bikes would have been considered as a strategy
considering that it’s likely that most traffic causing congestion in the town is coming from outside the town and travelling to a destination outside of the town as although early numbers from the traffic study show that 16% of traffic starts and ends its journey outside of the town boundaries and the rest either starts here, ends here, or is totally within the town boundaries, a bike hiring scheme would not have an impact on traffic that travels outside of the town. Only traffic that goes from A to B within the town limits.*
How exactly Boris Bikes would act as an alternative for out of town traffic is beyond me. Especially considering that common destinations like Bath and nearby Wiltshire towns are at least 5 miles away in most cases.
Would drivers really want to cycle that far through areas where there are often no cycle paths and just fields full of cows for miles? Where would they leave their cars in Bradford on Avon, a town that has a shortage of parking for residents, let alone out of town visitors? There are more questions that answers with this frankly bizarre suggestion from Donelan.
It should be obvious to anyone that Bradford on Avon isn’t like London when it comes to commuting or travelling. Providing Boris Bikes here is not the solution so badly sought by residents who are starting to run out of the patience they have so long maintained.
This is a town with poor air quality and poor pedestrian access throughout. A town where local businesses are struggling while the town council work as fast as they can to find a solution. What we don’t need is a potential member of parliament for our constituency making ill-informed decisions about what’s best in an attempt to show that she really cares. Michelle Donelan has demonstrated here that she might not have her finger on the pulse of a town she so badly wants to represent.
*Thank you to Shay Parsons for bringing my attention to early stats from the study I wasn’t aware of at the time of writing.