End of month report – July
It’s eerily quiet on the CAP…
Our recent direct promptings to the Council’s project team and Mark Shelford, the Cabinet Member for Transport and Environment now lead us to believe that the practicalities of the Clean Air Plan are proving very challenging to resolve. We have highlighted five aspects to the Council which we think will be highly important to our residents.
1. High NOx emission car owners
Let us assume that high NOx cars will be chargeable (as we can’t see anything less being effective on overall NOx levels on the London Road and central Bath), then some of our residents will be charged if and when they encroach into the CAZ. To determine whether your car would be chargeable click here.
2. Boundary Effects
The boundary for the zone cuts across Camden Road between the Gays Hill junction and the St Stephen’s Road junction (see the red ring on the map). Any driver approaching the boundary needs to know whether the car they are driving will be chargeable and decide what to do next.
We have no idea how the boundary will be sign-posted and what advance warnings there will be. Driving south west on Camden Road there will be a need for escape routes at key decision-making points or we’ll be confronted with drivers forced to do three point turns in a narrow street with parked cars and pedestrians waiting to get biffed. The boundary on Gay’s Hill (see orange ring on the map) will have a consequence on Belgrave Crescent as it would be a potential escape route for last minute decision takers.
As the London Road also has a boundary before Cleveland Bridge (see the second orange ring), definitive direction for drivers ought to be provided at the extremities of the NE Bath rat run, as described in our report from earlier this year, and all along the London Road from the main Alice Park roundabout to avoid hapless attempts to use the current rat run or London Road as an approach to the city.
This is really difficult to consider at this stage. There are so many factors such as: how a CAZ resident is defined, whether, as a chargeable car owner, they pay for living in the CAZ irrespective of car usage, whether they have a parking permit now. The permutations and likely costs and other implications are many and could have large effect on the cost of living on Camden Road and the freedom to drive a car.
Those parking places inside RPZ Zone 15 and the CAZ will be of far less use to many Camden residents and will put pressure on all spaces to the north east of the CAZ boundary. Many drivers, designated as living in the zone, might well opt to park a second car habitually outside the chargeable zone which will put even more pressure for parking outside the CAZ.
5. Getting around the Bath CAZ
The general expectation will be that if our residents want to go somewhere which is away from Bath, say Bristol or Wells, then those with chargeable cars would not pay to do so. This might be possible but will involve very circuitous routes to get round the CAZ.
For Bristol the best routes will involve using the M4 or A420. Getting onto the A4 is only possible by rat running through Weston and Newbridge residential streets which may be restricted.
For Peasedown and Wells the only routes involve southerly trips through Wiltshire or via the A420 and the Bristol ring road.
So what might the benefits be?
- First and foremost the clean air plan has to reduce NOx levels – that’s what it is for. Excessive concentrations of NOx in the east and centre of the city are currently an insidious public health hazard which we are mostly unaware of.
- The west end of Camden Road and the Hedgemead road system will be in the CAZ so drivers of chargeable vehicles travelling along the whole length will be discouraged. This should reduce and smooth, to some extent, traffic flows along these roads as well as Belgrave Crescent.
- If London Road is relieved by the CAZ then there will be less need to use Camden Road as an evening peak-time rat run. The hope therefore is that flows will be reduced.
- If these things happen we will be healthier and may gain a glimpse of a quieter life on Camden Road. However the effect will diminish quickly as more vehicles become non-polluting for NOx and will be no longer chargeable. It is hoped that the glimpse will be enough to make further measures to maintain the quietness a desirable thing, despite the convenience trade-offs required.
On balance we are still supportive as:
- it is not a political imperative but a public health one,
- it is being funded by central government not us, and
- it could give us a sufficient glimpse of life in Camden and central Bath, with less vehicles, to entice us into backing further measures in due course.
ps one resident has suggested that this is really within WECA’s remit. If so then it probably falls into the sector outlined in red although its not a perfect fit as it seems to be talking about trains solely – not buses, trams, electric bikes, walking campaigns. There is probably a need for both in the long term but smaller local initiatives will be quicker.
I’m also not sure how Bath’s work is related to the work Bristol are doing on their CAP…