I’m trying to understand how an app that tells you that your car will cause the council to be fined for illegal levels of air pollution if you drive into the city and provides you with a free parking space and a rat run through residential streets will do anything other than create a nightmare for families walking/wheeling or cycling their kids to school.
The underlying issue is that the decision to implement a Clean Air Zone “C” (do not charge old cars) vs “D” (charge old cars) was inherently a political one. The council should have implemented a Clean Air Zone, with digital information boards on the boundaries and then DEFRA’s air quality unit should use active pricing based on current levels of air pollution. Yes sometimes you could come in with your old diesel SUV for free, but when it got bad, no, it would cost you. Just leave it at the Park and Ride or take a bus or even grab an eBike (7-9 miles is easily doable).
One thing the council has got right is delivering Liveable Neighbourhoods and Resident Parking Zones. These truly tackle “free” parking and return residential roads, never designed to handle enormous volumes of through traffic back to what they were designed for, quiet residential streets where kids can play out safely and enabling people to walk/wheel or cycle. Remember 42% of car journeys in Bath are under 2 miles. Nationally around 60% are under 5 miles.
What would also help, given the focus of this article on the rural residents coming into the city, would be for all bus services into Bath to be capped at Park and Ride prices.
Giving people an app that helps people that own old heavy stinky SUVs to rat run through residential areas to a free parking spot makes absolutely no sense whatsoever given the council’s stated aims around the climate emergency and necessary reduction in road miles driven by 24% by 2030. Rural road miles are the biggest generator of those miles and not something the council should be enabling and encouraging.
Artificial intelligence that helps drivers find parking spaces in busy city centres is being developed at the University of Bath.
The software will also incentivise drivers to cooperate with local councils in their quest to keep pollution within safe limits in busy urban centres, as part of a far-reaching programme designed to reduce toxic air in city centres.
As city populations continue to grow (it’s expected that the world’s urban population willmore than doublebetween now and 2050, with 7 out of 10 people living in cities), the need to use new technology to mitigate pollution and congestion becomes ever more pressing. However, any measures introduced to curb the use of cars in cities will also need to factor in the needs of people from rural communities who may rely on their cars to access essential services.
The new project is a collaboration between computer scientists at Bath and
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