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What about congestion and expensive parking tickets?

April 26, 2014

As part of my selection campaign I visit and talk to a lot of people in Bath. Bathonians love their city and are very proud of Bath’s beautiful architectural heritage and the thousands of tourists this brings to the city.

However many people mention congestion and pollution as problems for residents and visitors. I usually point out that local transport is more an issue for councillors not potential PPCs  to resolve, but since I have a long Council experience I am happy to chip in with my views. Many issues are transferrable and people in Bath are not different from residents in my area.

So here it goes: a city like Bath was not built for modern car traffic. There is no perfect solution for traffic flow unless you blow up some of the old streets- or ban car traffic altogether. If there weren’t viable alternatives to car use than people would be right to complain, but Bath does offer Park and Ride, many good bus links in and out of the city, as well as extensive cycling- and safe pedestrian routes. If people still chose to travel by car it is a choice and with it the inconvenience of congestion and expensive parking.

At this point the interest of local traders come into the debate. If there are too many restrictions for car users businesses will suffer and of course we want to support our local businesses. Therefore car traffic is still very much a feature in the city centre compared to other world heritage sites (for example Florence, where all cars are banned from the centre).

Our long term ambition however has to be to get people out of their cars. Walking and cycling are healthy alternatives, certainly for those who are able bodied. I fail to understand people who spend hours on the running machine but can’t walk half a mile to a shop.

If more people are using busses the better the service will be. Councillors have limited influence over deregulated bus services, but bus operators will be where they can make a profit. And local businesses won’t mind how you get to them as long as they have your trade.

So a big step forward is our own attitude to car use. I use my car far too often, but at least I don’t blame anybody if I sit in a traffic jam or have to pay a hefty parking charge. I know that it is the price I pay for a choice I made.

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