25 July 2017
Bigger ring road roundabouts: Bigger traffic jams on the way!
Bigger ring road roundabouts without all the complementary city centre bus priority, walking and cycling measures will just result in bigger traffic jams
On Thursday 20th July 2017, the result of the Full Council vote on the ring roads question was: 4 (Green!) votes against the £34m ring road project and all the other councillors voted for it - we would urge you to bare this in mind as a point to note regarding all the 'green' claims of the Lib Dem and Labour parties locally. We opposed this proposal, not because we don’t share the frustration of thousands of motorists, but because there are more cost-effective ways to spend £34m tackling our transport needs and congestion problems. Someone has to be honest enough to tell the motoring public that this is a fraud and the long-term vision of a free-flowing ring road is a mirage: a confidence trick being promoted by vested interests who are happy to see more people locked into debt paying for cars which they need to get to work because of inadequate public transport.
All the evidence shows, apart from construction jobs during the five years of roadworks, there will be little lasting benefit, with traffic levels increasing as evidenced here in York with the A59 roundabout upgrade completed in 2014: the Executive report states in Paragraph 16 that before and after studies show average peak delays in this location were cut from 15 minutes to 12-13 minutes but traffic levels are now 30-40% higher than before the work started. What are the implications of this extra traffic on the rest of our highway network that is not being upgraded? What will the impact be of the development of York Central and the British Sugar site if we are not planning for 21st century transport alternatives to the private car?
When this scheme for the outer ring road was first proposed for regional funding as part of Access York phase 2 in 2008 the scheme description stated in para 9.1 that it
“combines city centre measures to encourage modal shift with capacity improvements on the ring road. To lock in the benefits from the redistribution enabled by the improvements it is proposed to reallocate roadspace to more sustainable modes.”
In para 9.2 it also outlined one of these measures,
"a dedicated public transport spine through the city centre with Ouse Bridge designated for bus and taxi use only
linked to the existing restricted access route of Stonebow and Coppergate"
So in the council’s own submission for this funding, it clearly links city centre improvements like the excellent Scarborough Bridge upgrade - for walking and cycling and bus priority - to the justification for this programme. We all know what happened with the bold Lendal Bridge initiative, but bigger ring road roundabouts without all the complementary city centre measures will just result in bigger traffic jams. This money could be better spend reopening a station at Haxby, bus priority measures and improved walking and cycling measures.
Cllr Andy D’Agorne
Green Group Leader