World Heritage Sites (WHS) are 'places of outstanding universal value to the whole of humanity'. The reality, in the WHS City of Bath, is that the appearance and amenity of the city is badly affected by traffic, with heavy traffic even in large parts of the historic centre. Pollution and vibration from vehicles damage the historic buildings. The traffic is visually intrusive, noisy and smelly. Except in a tiny central area, vehicles have priority over pedestrians, and there is little provision for cyclists. What would be unsatisfactory in any city is an absurdity in Bath.
FoBRA welcomes the concept of introducing Low Traffic Neighbourhoods (LTNs) in Bath. However if LTNs are not part of a carefully designed system they will displace traffic, which will affect other residential areas or increase traffic on main roads where air pollution is already over or close to the legal limit. A problem in Bath is that the main traffic routes are also residential streets. If traffic is not simply to be displaced from one area to another, traffic in the city as a whole must be reduced. LTNs should be considered in the context of an overall traffic movement plan.
FoBRA has made proposals to B&NES Council for a traffic movement plan (See "Papers" tab), which would complement and interface with strategies for improving public transport (including park-and-ride), improved school travel arrangements, walking and cycling, parking, etc. Through traffic must be removed. We need a permanent HGV weight limit on Cleveland Bridge, which is currently a major route for traffic through Bath; the temporary HGV weight limit on Cleveland Bridge dramatically reduced HGV traffic. The densely populated central area of the city should be treated as a low traffic area in its own right. We propose restrictions on coach access to the central area, more parking control, and freight delivery management.
The Council should also develop a transport plan related to land use and its ambitious development policies, for example at Bath Riverside.
We look forward to the implementation of the Bath Clean Air Plan. Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) air pollution levels are showing some sign of reducing, but remain well above the legal limit in parts of the centre, London Road, and elsewhere. 10,000 people live within the worst affected areas. These levels of pollution are known to cause serious health effects, including early deaths. See "Papers" tab for Bath air pollution map and NO2 data for 2019. We are also concerned about the health implications of exposure to particulates (PM10 and PM2.5), although we recognise that particulate levels are in compliance with current legal requirements.
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