PUBLISHED: 11:07 08 April 2010 | UPDATED: 15:02 06 May 2010
SIR – The recent fully justified complaints by residents of Holywell Hill have concentrated the council s minds on the raw unpleasantness of the high level of congestion on city centre roads. It is not simply very unpleasant but it is a health hazard and
SIR - The recent fully justified complaints by residents of Holywell Hill have concentrated the council's minds on the raw unpleasantness of the high level of congestion on city centre roads. It is not simply very unpleasant but it is a health hazard and a danger.
I took visitors recently into the city centre: in the area near the Town Hall, where the coffee tables are, conversation was necessarily shouted and one of the party who was asthmatic had a coughing fit.
As a matter of simple observation the sheer volume of traffic on city-centre roads is incompatible with any notion of a civilized environment.
There is a ban on heavy goods vehicles that have no business in the centre but that can only be enforced by the police who are already stretched.
But the great majority of vehicles are cars. In 1993 W S Atkins Transport Strategy for St Albans made 13 recommendations. One of these was a minimum of £5 (say) long-stay parking charge in the city and another a £1 (say) park-and-ride scheme with frequent dedicated bus services.
WS Atkins identified five park-and-ride sites strategically placed at entry points on the outer edges of the built-up area.
This principle is successfully applied in many busy towns and cities where hundreds of cars are kept well away.
In Bath, for instance, around 2,000 cars are kept out of the central area. These schemes are welcomed by motorists as good value and the charge includes the return bus fare.
Unfortunately St Albans never grasped the nettle. In the recent consultation document a "mini" park-and-ride scheme was proposed with no dedicated buses, each parking area was to take only around 300 to 400 cars.
Park-and-ride must surely be viewed as a necessary and practical measure to reduce the number of cars currently entering the city and allowing for future growth in numbers. It is overdue and the city centre is already saturated.
A "mini" approach to park and ride that depends on normal scheduled buses does not sound encouraging and would still involve considerable expenditure.
The essence must surely be large parking areas well outside the fringes beside roads that bring large numbers of cars to the city, served by frequent dedicated bus services with good waiting rooms, the attractive flat rate charge to include all-day parking and return fare.
It would be well to investigate the successful working of park and ride in other cities comparable with St Albans.
As W S Atkins said, "to do nothing is not an option", and every one of us, councillors, residents, those conducting businesses and visitors, all want St Albans to be prosperous and a pleasant place to live and work in.
The present traffic situation in the city centre is not sustainable and is unacceptable. It will certainly continue to deteriorate unless positive action is taken to change it for the better.
The need for action is made all the more urgent since the vision for St Albans envisages an increase in economic and cultural activity in the city.
Fishpool Street, St Albans