Traffic and Air Pollution

Bath residents are most concerned about traffic congestion and air pollution. Traffic has a major impact on the appearance and amenity of Bath. Queen Square is little more than a roundabout on the A4, while the Circus is a busy rat-run. Except in a tiny central area, vehicles have priority over pedestrians and there is little provision for cyclists. Pollution and vibration from vehicles damages the historic buildings. What would be an unsatisfactory situation in any city is an absurdity in a World Heritage City which depends heavily on tourism.

FOBRA is pleased that the Government has mandated B&NES to reduce air pollution below the legal limit. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) levels along most of the main road network are well above the legal limit at which pollution is considered to be a health risk. 10,000 people live within the worst affected area. These levels of air pollution are known to cause serious health effects, including early deaths (perhaps 30 a year in Bath). See "Papers" tab on this website for the relevant data: Bath air pollution map; air quality data 2017; NO2 graphs 2017; and FOBRA's responses to consultations on air pollution and transport issues.

The Council's preferred option, a Class D Clean Air Zone (CAZ) (including cars), by itself won't do the job. Two key locations are forecast to be above the legal limit, others only a little below. This leaves no margin of safety. Previous forecasts of reducing pollution have proved to be grossly over-optimistic. B&NES should follow the precautionary principle and aim for air pollution levels well below the legal limit.

B&NES should urgently consider supplementing the CAZ with traffic management measures to reduce traffic volumes at the critical locations. This might be done by parking control and by curtailing through traffic in the city centre, while still allowing access to the centre itself. This would offer the best chance of achieving compliance. A comprehensive city traffic management plan will be required to deter rat-running in residential areas.

The plan should include restrictions on coach access to the city centre, and freight delivery management. Through traffic must be removed from the city as a whole: an alternative route for HGVs which currently use the A36-A46 route through Bath is essential.

FOBRA is a member of the Bath Alliance for Transport and Public Realm, which has 21 members including leading business, resident, heritage and other organisations and urges B&NES to develop a transport plan, based on a Vision of Bath as:

'A beautiful city in a green setting, with vibrant public spaces, a historic centre free of all but essential traffic*, clean air, good mobility and excellent transport infrastructure'.

* eg. Deliveries, cleansing, buses, taxis, key business needs, disabled, and access for residents to their homes

12 Dec 18