Cars prohibited to allow more cycling
Some Exeter road layouts are being changed by Devon County Council to make them more attractive to cyclists and walkers and less favourable for (if not prohibited to) cars.
The council describes the changes as 'improvements' and many people concerned about the environmental impact of motor vehicles who have been calling for the changes will agree with that description. Others believe the changes don't go far enough.
The schemes are being introduced because the pandemic has changed the way roads are being used, and social distancing guidelines means some changes may be necessary to allow pedestrians more space.
Work to change some Exeter streets has now begun along Ludwell Lane, Dryden Road and Wonford Road, where some closures are being introduced to remove through traffic, except buses and cyclists and create what they call a 4km 'quiet route' from Newcourt/Pynes Hill to the city centre.
The 'pop-up' measures are part of a series of schemes supported with initial funding of £338,000 from the government’s emergency active travel fund.
Exeter's Green Party is disappointed. Diana Moore, who represents the St. David's ward on Exeter City Council says: "“I welcome these measures, however feel they fall considerably short of the expectations that many in Exeter have in order to make roads slower and safer. I have received many emails from residents who want to see real ambition for safer and slower streets and active travel.”
Councillor Stuart Hughes, Devon County Council’s cabinet member for highway management, said: “By taking this opportunity we want to encourage more sustainable forms of transport, and hopefully create a lasting legacy of safe, healthy travel for local residents.
“The lockdown travel restrictions are gradually being eased, but social distancing guidance will remain in place for the foreseeable future, so these improvements for walkers and cyclists are designed with that in mind. The improvements started today have been prioritised to support access to the RD&E Hospital.
“We’re starting by creating routes that mirror our proposed strategic cycle routes connecting the East of Exeter with Exeter city centre, before moving on to additional changes to the city centre, as well as working across other communities in Devon.”
Other temporary measures which will be introduced over the coming weeks include -
– Making Magdalen Road one-way towards Western Way between St Leonards Road and Denmark Road with a contraflow cycleway and widened footway;
– A 3.5km quiet route from Monkerton/Whipton to the city centre through residential areas in Whipton and Heavitree, connecting housing to major employment sites in the city centre, Sowton and Exeter Science Park. This will be developed by removing through traffic with point closures and / or one-ways on residential streets. A temporary crossing and temporary cycle route on Polsloe Road.
– Improved foot and cycle access to the city centre via South Street, Fore Street and North Street, including widening of footways with temporary barriers on key pedestrian and public transport route to the city centre, including additional space around busy Cowick Street bus stops.
In Barnstaple, temporary restrictions will be introduced to extend the current town centre pedestrianised area. This will support social distancing and improve cycling links into the town centre, with additional pop-up cycle parking facilities. Existing public transport routes will be maintained, and discussions are being held with local stakeholders on proposals to install temporary restrictions to remove traffic except for buses, cycles and emergency vehicles on the A3125 Longbridge.
In Bideford, a temporary one-way system for pedestrians will be introduced on narrow pavements and streets within the town centre. Sections of on-street parking will be removed from the High Street, disabled parking will be introduced on High Street and Bridgeland Street. The road through Manor Park will be closed in order to provide extra space for pedestrians and pop-up cycle parking as well as space for bus passengers to wait safely. A one-way system for pedestrians will incorporate the Longbridge footpaths and a temporary pedestrian crossing will be needed on the A386.
In Newton Abbot, on-street parking will be removed along 450 metres of Queen Street, to enable the widening of footpaths for social distancing. Some parking spaces will be retained, along with some loading bays and bus stops. The scheme reflects aspirations being developed under the Future High Streets Fund.
Temporary crossings will be provided on the east-west shared use path at Exeter Road, Jetty Marsh Road and Ashburton Road. This will improve safety for residents and will encourage sustainable travel on a safe, convenient and direct route to education, employment sites and the town centre.
More 200 extra cycle parking spaces have been installed across the county, including new spaces in Exeter city centre, at the RD&E, Heavitree, Whipton, Topsham, Newton Abbot, Totnes, Teignmouth, Ivybridge, Barnstaple and Tavistock.
Exeter, Barnstaple, Bideford and Newton Abbot are the main focus for the initial improvements but other market and coastal towns will also have the opportunity to benefit from a share of funding.
Devon will have to submit a bid for a potential £1,351,000 later this summer for more permanent schemes, but schedules for this process are yet to be confirmed by Government.
The traffic calming measures are temporary for a period of up to 18 months. During this time traffic will be monitored and, in consultation with local residents, alterations may be removed if deemed ineffective or made permanent where considered successful.