Traffic proposals get broad approval from public survey
The Glastonbury Transport Strategy Report — revised following the summer’s public consultation exercise and meetings of the steering group — will be published during October and then go to town, district and county councils for adoption.
The aims of the study
- provide new footways and cycle paths and maintain ones we have
- provide a good public transport service of both buses and trains
- provide affordable short-stay parking for shoppers and visitors
- discourage commuting by cars
- provide safe and accessible routes for all modes of transport — walkers, cyclists, the disabled, horse-riders, lorries, private cars
- maintain and enhance Glastonbury’s economy
- improve access for all, especially those without cars and the disabled
- improve safety for all
- protect and improve the environment
- improve people’s awareness of a more sustainable lifestyle
- reduce the need to travel, the number and length of journeys
- achieve a shift to train, bus, cycling and walking
- reduce car dependency
Questionnaires were distributed to 3,400 homes in Glastonbury. Public exhibitions were mounted during St John’s church fete and the farmer’s market at the end of August, and a few days later at the Town Hall and at Safeway; 258 copies of the full report were handed out. There was a front-page story in the Central Somerset Gazette and coverage in Avalon Magazine, Free State and the Fosseway Magazine.
About 330 questionnaires came back — a higher response than for similar exercises in other Somerset towns.
More than 80% of respondents “agreed” or “strongly agreed” with proposals about pedestrian routes, cycle routes, buses and safe routes to school, and 75% with proposals about traffic signs. Reaction seemed the same, no matter whether respondents lived inside or outside the town.
The proposals about parking and traffic-calming raised the most “disagree” or “strongly disagree” ticks: 33%. “This element of a transport strategy would be expected to be the least popular, being the stick as opposed to the carrot,” commented Chris Betty of WS Atkins, coordinating the study for the county council.
The consultation exercise showed that 41% of the respondents use the car for journeys of under three miles and 75% for over three miles. It suggests that if the elements within the report were available, car users would consider alternatives and these figures could reduce to 26% and 35%.
Some details from the feedback:
Those who strongly disagreed with the signing proposals were concerned that directing coaches to the Northload West carpark would reduce trade for the town and cause additional traffic in Northload Street. There was also a feeling that coaches would not visit Glastonbury if they had to park away from St Dunstan’s carpark. Mr Betty believes there is need for short-term coach parking at St Dunstan’s in addition to long-term at Northload West, which would be signed as the coachpark.
The small number who “strongly disagreed” were concerned about routes shared between pedestrians and cyclists. People with poor hearing can be startled when cyclists come up from behind them, so it is better to segregate the two types of traffic where possible.
Some respondents wrote letters suggesting alternative pedestrian routes on St Edmund’s Hill and an additional route between Glastonbury and Street via Cowbridge across the fields.
Others suggested pedestrianizing the High Street during the summer because of the number of visitors and lack of footway space. One went on to suggest a vehicular loop during this period that would include Magdalene Street, Benedict Street and Street Road.
Mr Betty commented: “Pedestrianization of the High Street, or even an experimental pedestrianization, must be discussed by the steering group. Summer tourists may find the High Street better to visit if it was pedestrianized and trade might increase as a result. Deliveries would be allowed outside peak times. If seasonal restrictions included pedestrianization, say between 10am and 4pm, that would allow people to use the High Street to access shops, work or school. Away from summer and outside these periods, local traffic would revert to using the High Street, ensuring the vitality is retained.”
Letters commented that cycle routes need to be safe; traffic will park on cycle lanes in Wells Road; roundabouts need safety provisions if cyclists need to use them.
Most of those disagreeing with the proposals feared that increased charges or loss of parking spaces would discourage drivers from making “convenience” shopping trips to the town. It was argued that these would go to Wells or Street instead.
Letters suggested that longer-term parking (more than 20 or 30 minutes) is still needed for the town to keep trade. Another preferred more loading bays and disabled bays instead of parking for cars. Removing long-term parking will make it more difficult for those who work in the High Street, said another. One letter argued that two short-stay parking areas will cause more pollution than one long-stay. Another said short-stay parking will encourage people to drive into the town.
“Some of the comments were from people who had not read the full report and therefore assumed that the short-term referred to the carparks rather than on-street parking,” commented Mr Betty. “It is difficult to understand why convenience shoppers would be so easily deterred by removing on-street parking. It cannot be more convenient to drive to Wells. Having said that, it is important that the risk of losing trade is understood and quantified.” He suggests research “to find out at what point the level of parking and the level of charges begin to act as a deterrent to people who shop in the town such that they shop elsewhere rather than choose an alternative mode of transport. ... The management of on-street parking and parking charges can be used to discourage unnecessary car journeys but not discourage visitors.”
Letters included comments that roads are not suitable for buses; links to railway stations must coincide with train times; fares must be affordable. Some suggested that car-sharing schemes could often be more appropriate than public transport.
Some comments from those disagreeing with proposals Slow speeds cause more pollution; do not use humps; traffic-calming causes rat-runs; reduce HGVs rather than slowing them; stop up Austin Road when calming Wells Road.