Guess what! Magic! The CAZ may not need to exclude cars…
A new option is being considered which could squeeze the CAZ over the line without needing to exclude cars. It involves some highly tactical ‘traffic management’ on Queen’s Square. Anyway, the two options are up for debate on 5th March at 10am, at the Guildhall and will be web televised.
Many cynics will look to the local elections two months after the Guildhall decisions and will be hardly surprised that a rabbit was pulled out of the hat at the last minute. What a delight for all those perplexed as to how and when to get rid of their euro 4 and 5 diesels! But assuming the current administration retains power they will have to deliver the air quality improvements unless, of course, the ECJ has no jurisdiction by then….?
For the full press release, click here.
It does seem extraordinary that after the initial study which included class D vehicles (cars) these can now be exempt from charges by the introduction of traffic management measures, which seem largely to be by means of a few traffic lights. Traffic lights normally have the effect of interrupting the flow of vehicles (stopping and starting) thus increasing vehicle omissions. The worst polluting area is London Road and far from being a little over the legal limit for omissions is considerably more and I really don’t see how these measures will make a dramatic improvement on the situation there.
Queen Square is included in the Public Realm and Movement Strategy as an aim to remove traffic from two or preferably three sides of this historic square. These proposals will make a mockery of such an aim.
It does seem to be a cinical means of kicking the serious mattter of air pollution into the “ long grass” with the impending local elections in May.
I came to same conclusion for very similar reasons and have been in discussions with the project team today. I’ve changed my view quite a bit. The long story would need several minutes.
The key thing is that measures suggested are predicted to be effective but have not been explained particularly well.
The model was predicting only two hotspots:
• Walcot Parade – which is technically abutting the last bit of London Road as it climbs up to the Walcot Street mini roundabout. The model was also not dealing correctly with the effect of gradients, of which this is probably the only one on London Road. So nothing is changing physically here. It’s just that the modelling is more optimistic
• Gay Street – which is being dealt with by a traffic light system designed to be dynamically obstructive to drivers when NOx levels are high. The aim is to make this a less popular route from the south west of the city.
• There is tons of material showing the various designs for Queen’s Square, if you know where to look – I didn’t until directed by the team ( to https://www.bathnes.gov.uk/bath-breathes-2021-overview/outline-business-case, and then look at the options assessment report on page 23. Incidentally the remodelling is described in the AQ3 in the same place).
In the end, Bath is supposed to get all the infrastructure to run the CAZ, with or without cars. If they find they are not getting close to compliance they can switch to a ‘D’ without too much trouble technically. The messaging to the populus will be more difficult.
The probable direction ultimately will get stricter and stricter (particulates etc etc), much as has happened in London. The first CAZ was only to be the thin end of the wedge and as long as the ANPR infrastructure and charging technology are in place the tool is still there.
Hope that might comfort you and others – a bit at least.
I was really worried that the whole thing was going to get delayed post purdah and elections and get picked up by the next administration. There is a publicly made intention for the Cabinet to make a decision on 5th March.