Community asked for views on one-way Keynsham High Street trial

February 05 2018
Thumbnail Image

Air quality is up and some car journey times are down, the latest figures show – but what do Keynsham residents think of the one-way High Street?

Air quality is up and some car journey times are down, the latest figures show – but what do Keynsham residents think of the one-way High Street?

That’s the question Bath and North East Somerset Council is putting to the public over the next few weeks as a consultation on the road layout gets under way.

Since launching the experimental scheme in May last year, the council has been monitoring traffic flow, air quality, parking demand and footfall in the High Street and the initial results are in – so now the authority wants to know what people who live, work and shop in the town have experienced.

One of the biggest changes since the scheme was implemented is in air quality in the town, figures show. Levels of nitrogen dioxide, which was monitored at 13 locations, are down by between 22 per cent and 47 per cent, putting it below national objective levels.

One of the council’s main priorities in implementing the one-way trial was to improve the shopping experience and make the High Street more pedestrian friendly, and a footfall count carried out over 12 hours on a weekday did show pedestrian numbers were up on 2016 by two per cent to 7,147. However, a weekend count revealed an eight per cent drop in footfall, down from 9,803 in 2016 to 9,028 in 2017. Combined, this was an overall drop of four per cent.

The report for B&NES says: “This result is not surprising given that no significant improvements have been made for pedestrians in terms of the public realm as part of the experiment. These will be delivered if the scheme is made permanent which is expected to increase the number of pedestrians in the long term.”

But it’s a result that will concern traders, said Maria Spill, of Café Crème, many of whom say that their trade has fallen since the start of the scheme. Speaking about her experience of the High Street trial, she said: “My view is that they should put it back to what it was – and I think many traders would tell you the same thing. Footfall has not been the same.

“A lot of people seem to think they can’t park in Keynsham anymore and are confused by the road layout. We need more publicity about the car parks – Keynsham needs footfall.”

Parking demand in the town rose in the months following the launch of the scheme, the surveys show, with the Civic Centre seeing a 110 per cent rise in ticket sales in April to June 2017 compared to the same period in 2016, while Ashton Way was up 27 per cent. In total, parking ticket sales across the town’s car parks were up 16 per cent on 2016.

Monitoring of journey times travelling across the town in various directions at peak times showed improvements on six out of eight journeys, although increases in queuing at various points, including Station Road, Bristol Road and Ashton Way during evening rush hour, were also recorded.

The full results are available on B&NES Council’s website at http://bit.ly/2DrpEK1 where there is also a link to the online consultation, which runs until March 1.

Councillor Tim Warren, leader of Bath & North East Somerset Council, will be visiting the town to talk to people on the High Street during the consultation period. He said: “The one-way trial has been held in order to see if it is possible to improve the environment of Keynsham High Street, by reducing noise and pollution from traffic.

"Now that the trial has been in place long enough for people to get a feel for the changes, we want to find out what difference this has made to the High Street and what should be the future priorities to make this a safe, sustainable and healthy place.”