Journey to Net Zero: A greener, healthier, more accessible vision of Bath

Since 1990, the number of vehicles on our roads has doubled from 20 million to 40 million, our public transport services have been eviscerated, and our roads have become dominated by cars becoming traffic filled, congested, and polluted sewers. Ironically, all those parents doing the school run, too afraid to let their kids walk, cycle, or scoot on their own to school, are exposing their children to up 11 times the amount of pollution than a child that walked to school.

A city where people come first and you can give up your car

The Journey to Net Zero (JNZ) is a critical document that sets a stake in the ground. It defines a vision of a city where people come first.

https://beyondtheautomobile.com/2021/09/14/car-dependency-is-a-spectrum/

Where people do not need to own a car but have access to a share eCar, eCargobike, eBike, eScooter, or even an eVan should they need one.

https://www.nweurope.eu/projects/project-search/ehubs-smart-shared-green-mobility-hubs/

Bye bye HGVs and Delivery Vans

Where HGVs deliver goods to micro-distribution centres on the edges of the city and goods are delivered to homes and businesses by eCargobikes.

https://newsroom.hermesworld.com/international/city-logistics-hermes-trials-parcel-delivery-by-cargo-bikes-in-berlin-837/

4 Traffic Cells? How about a Living Heart?

Where the city centre has a Living Heart which prioritises buses and people walking, wheeling, and cycling. Where people have access to car parks and disabled parking BUT if you do drive into the city centre, you leave by the road you came in on.

Walk Ride Bath Living Heart + 4 traffic cells https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1t4w2_XqQ640pfxUfMrIp_Hytry6z1FOxXmfgQ611MfA/edit

We’ve been waiting almost two years for a circulation plan!

Where the city has defined a circulation plan clearly stating where through traffic can travel which is enforced using Liveable Neighbourhoods. Every residential street becomes a quiet place where parents can happily let their children play and walk/wheel/cycle to school on their own with main roads now conforming to national cycle design standards.

Walk Ride Bath Circulation Plan https://docs.google.com/drawings/d/1TNl0V2btrJ24IoM98B6Zxw2omrBCTSeYpMxFVhnA3qU/edit

Why are we driving our kids to school?

A city where every school has a school street and the majority of kids walk, wheel, or cycle to school.

You do not ask a parent to let their child cycle to school, you *ENABLE* a parent to let their child cycle to school by providing the infrastructure.

https://www.transportxtra.com/publications/evolution/news/68299/school-streets-reduce-nitrogen-dioxide-by-up-to-23-during-morning–off-says-tfl

Car Dependency is real

But this is not to say some people will not need a car. Many disabled and elderly people are very dependent on cars. There are a huge number of people that can and should choose other modes. We need to ensure that the council is not building in future bad behavioural problems.

When are you installing EV charging points?

Council webinar on the Journey To Net Zero was dominated by this question.

If the council is not careful we end up in this situation:

Hey I bought an electric car so what’s your problem?!!

A people first accessible city is not driving friendly

It is good to see many of the public realm improvements aimed at making the city more accessible but making a city accessible does not mean convenient to drive. You will be able to get around by car, but it won’t be convenient. Catching a bus or taxi will be convenient. Walking, wheeling, and cycling will be convenient, direct, and comfortable (our pavements are horrendous). This is the reality of getting the majority of people that can use other modes to stop using their cars freeing up our roads for those that have no choice.

The JNZ does have its faults…

Council is encouraging and enabling like for like swapping of cars

The city must help society to shift from a car ownership model to a shared (e)mobility model while recognising and supporting those that still need to own a car. To achieve this on-street EV charging points must only be installed as part of eHUBs. This is not clearly stated in the JNZ.

A 6 car parking space eHUB can potentially replace the need for 30+ privately owned cars.

What about a strategic view of cycling?

The JNZ I would argue is relatively weak here. This is very much the fault of the current cabinet leadership combined with the West of England’s exceptionally poor Local Cycling Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP) that is missing the vital regional strategic cycle network map while the JNZ contains a Bath cycle map that is politically compromised.

There are now three LTN 1/20 compliant routes planned to the university…which would mean a bus gate on all of them blocking off access to the University by car from the city!

Safe routes to school, something that was supposed to be defined in the LCWIP, are also very poorly identified. The significant behaviour change that School Streets can achieve is underplayed and is just mentioned in passing.

It is also clear from the JNZ webinar that Cllr Matt McCabe has plans for a regional greenways/quiet lanes network, again something that should be published by WECA in the poor *SIGNED OFF* LCWIP, not by BaNES. Although this may indicate a lack of good resources at WECA level, given the state of the LCWIP.

A strategic greenways network is not defined in the WECA LCWIP. They should take note of the Surrey Hills work: https://www.surreyhills.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/06/Item-4-Annex-Surrey-Strategic-Greenways.pdf is an

Poor ambition with political change risking long term delivery

The JNZ also has weak timescales on many schemes. The “Living Heart” is a 10 year plan, the majority of which can be implemented tomorrow. We’re currently looking at multiple election cycles. The council’s webinar had Cllr Matt McCabe holding his own very well, yet come next May, there may be a regime change and there certainly will be a very different cabinet.

The JNZ needs a BaNES Transport Stakeholder Forum to keep the politicians from derailing an exceptionally good roadmap to Net Zero.

WE’RE STILL MISSING THE VITAL CIRCULATION PLAN!

The outstanding action from the Liveable Neighbourhoods Strategy published last year is a Circulation Plan for the city. This is recommitted in the JNZ and it indicates that there may be a problem in publishing uncomfortable but vital strategic documents. A draft could be published in the final JNZ.

LTN Strategy Page 31 published September 2020.
https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/sites/default/files/2020-09/FINAL%20DRAFT%20LTN%20Strategy.pdf

Respond by Monday the 7th of Feb!

The Journey to Net Zero is the mechanism through which the council gets millions in funding to achieve this fantastic vision of Bath. Without it, Bath continues to slowly but surely suffer from more and more traffic.

You’re not sitting in traffic, you are traffic!

So we are asking people to support it. It does have its faults, which are easily rectified, but it also sets out a vision of city where people come first.

https://www.transport.gov.scot/active-travel/developing-an-active-nation/sustainable-travel-and-the-national-transport-strategy/

The consultation is open until 5pm on Monday 7 February.

Download the pdf document or view the plan online.

The Have Your Say section provides a link to the response form (about 5 minutes of your time).

We definitely recommend reading the document but it’s not easy going. It’s a holistic approach where all proposals work in harmony to create a people first city.

You should also consider watching the webinar here:

The Journey To Net Zero does have its faults that can be easily addressed, and that some have taken completely out of context, but over all it is really rather good and will provide the foundation for future investment in this beautiful city that is taking very timid steps towards real climate action. We are the voice that makes those steps bolder and much bigger.

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