Only 10 people respond to St Albans five-year plan to cut traffic
ONLY 10 responses have been made to a five-year plan to try to solve the traffic problems which often gridlock the St Albans district. But the fact that there have been so few responses to the St Albans Urban Transport Plan (SUTP) is hardly surprising as
ONLY 10 responses have been made to a five-year plan to try to solve the traffic problems which often gridlock the St Albans district.
But the fact that there have been so few responses to the St Albans Urban Transport Plan (SUTP) is hardly surprising as hardly anyone would have been aware that it was out for consultation.
It was originally due to be released before Christmas when the county council put out a press release to that effect but was eventually put back until May without the consultation period being flagged up.
Now, in light of the lack of formal responses, the consultation period has been extended until August 3.
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The SUTP builds on previous Herts traffic plans while being, "sympathetic to the conservation of the historical environment as well as promoting the economic, social and general environmental well being of the district".
It aims to combat the high levels of congestion, commuters and freight transport which have come to characterise the city and district.
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SUTP research shows that Herts has the fourth highest car ownership in the UK with 41 per cent of households having access to two or more cars.
Traffic has grown by 64 per cent since 1980 and by 2021 it is expected to have increased by one-third from its 2001 level.
The dependency on cars can be seen within St Albans where 44 per cent of journeys are less than 5km but only a third of those journeys are made by walking or cycling.
Socio-economic conditions have been used to explain such a high use of cars, but considering St Albans' rail links to central London and the number of daily commuters, only 19 per cent of journeys to work are made by train.
The study accepts that part of the problem affecting the St Albans area is its close proximity to some of the busiest motorway stretches in Britain. The M25 carries 200,000 vehicles a day through the area and the M1 160,000.
Any problems on the local stretch of both motorways can flood the city and district with vehicles, gridlocking the roads. With widening of the M1 between Junctions 6A and 10 almost complete and proposed widening of the M25 between junctions 16 and 23, this would bring even more traffic into the area.
It also points out that St Albans lacks a continuous, designated and effective ring road with the role unofficially filled by King Harry Lane, Watling Street, Bluehouse Hill, Batchwood Drive, Beech Road and Marshalswick Drive, Beechwood Avenue, Ashley Road and Drakes Drive - all single carriageway through residential areas
The quickest and most environmentally-friendly solution would be to improve public transport. With a direct train service to central London, rail is the most popular and most crowded of the local transport links. But as the rail service is controlled by Central Government, Network Rail and First Capital Connect, there is little the county council can do except try to represent their views.
The SUTP aims to encourage the use of buses in the area by improving routes and ensuring a consistent high quality throughout the main bus operators. The study acknowledges the constraints on the service because of the persistent congestion in St Peter's Street and some of the other city routes. It is also recognised that deregulated bus timetables are not always the most efficient way of running buses quoting the fact that four buses an hour may be run at half-hourly intervals.
The study also suggests that as a relatively compact city, St Albans has potential for all roads into the centre to be cycle routes. But it lists all the disadvantages which deter potential cyclists such as lack of cycle parking in the city centre, a lack of continuous cycle lanes, a lack of road and junction markings and speeding and dangerous driving.
So what does the STUP suggest to help the seemingly endless traffic jams in St Albans? One is a school travel planning system to encourage the use of sustainable modes of transport and ensure a safer journey for children.
It wants business to participate more in transport planning for employees and also wants to change people's behaviour, particularly the use of alternative modes of travel to the single-occupancy journey. To do this, the study says that local authorities need to provide a good range of quality travel alternatives.
The final plan is expected to be published in October and further details can be found at www.hertsdirect.org/havesay/consultation/crtcnsit/environment/