Thursday, 15 March 2012

Westgate Traffic Changes

Canterbury and District Green Party broadly support the planned changes to be introduced on March 27th, in which traffic will no longer be able to go through the Westgate Tower. Instead:
  • Traffic will travel to the side of the Tower, where traffic lights will operate. Only buses and taxis will be allowed to travel in the direction away from St Dunstans.
  • Traffic coming into the city via St Dunstans Street will be directed into Station Road West (apart from buses, taxis and local traffic requiring access) or onto London Road.
  • A 20mph speed limit will operate in lower St Dunstan’s Street.

We think it’s an imaginative scheme and that it is important to protect the historic landmark of Westgate Tower. The scheme also includes plans to extend the existing Great Stour Way cycle and pedestrian route into the city centre. At the moment there is an informal trodden path which goes from Toddlers Cove, under the Rheims Way and through Westgate Gardens. The idea is to turn this path into an extension of the Great Stour Way so that there would be a shared use route for cyclists and pedestrians all the way from Chartham into the city centre. We wholeheartedly support this as we do the proposed folding bike hire service for rail commuters at Canterbury West station, also part of the scheme and a brilliant innovation.

One of the main aims of the scheme is to improve air quality in the St Dunstan’s area. We are a little concerned that the congestion and air quality may well improve here, but that the problems might simply be pushed to the other areas where traffic is to be re-directed. However, KCC doesn’t believe that this will happen. They say that the problems in St Dunstan’s Street in particular are ‘…caused by the volume of slow moving traffic including a high concentration of buses and heavy goods vehicles’ and that the traffic that will be displaced along London Road and Station Road West will be mainly private cars and that ‘…these roads have sufficient capacity to ensure that traffic is generally free-flowing.’

We hope that they’re right, applaud the imagination of the scheme and wish it well,
but still believe that a range of other measures, including perhaps cheaper bus fares, more 20mph speed limits, personalised travel planning and more designated cycle lanes on main roads are likely to be needed to seriously improve air quality and reduce congestion and the carbon footprint in the city.