Bath residents are very 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 very pleased that the Government has mandated B&NES to reduce air pollution below the legal limit 'as soon as possible'. 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.
FOBRA is fully engaged with B&NES Council in discussion of its proposed Clean Air Plan. The Council now has a golden opportunity finally to tackle Bath's transport problems. 92% of NO2 pollution in Bath is caused by road traffic, so action must be focused on reducing traffic volumes, particularly of the most polluting diesel vehicles.
We welcome plans for a Clean Air Zone (CAZ). However, a CAZ is not the only way of cutting emissions and improving air quality. Vehicle movement and hence air pollution in the city centre could also be reduced quickly, effectively and cheaply by means of parking control and traffic management, both of which are parts of the Bath Transport Strategy which was adopted with all-party support in 2014. This should include restrictions on coach access to the city centre, and freight delivery management.
Through traffic must be removed from the city centre and 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 now 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