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. Queen Square is little more than a roundabout on the A4, while surrounding historic streets are busy rat-runs. 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 Bath.
A comprehensive city traffic management plan is required to reduce traffic in the historic centre, while deterring rat-running in residential areas. Traffic must be reduced across the city, not just displaced. 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. The plan should include restrictions on coach access to the city centre and freight delivery management. Park-and-Ride is needed to the east of Bath, and P&R should operate later into the evening, with secure overnight parking.
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 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 2018; NO2 graphs 2018.
We welcome B&NES Council's decision to implement a Clean Air Plan for Bath. We question whether proposed traffic lights at Queen Square will reduce air pollution at the Gay Street 'hot spot'. They could result in traffic backing up, leading to increased congestion and pollution. FOBRA would prefer supplementing the CAZ with traffic management to reduce traffic volumes by means of parking control and curtailing through traffic in the city centre. The Council will have to keep air pollution levels here under review, and should be ready to consider alternatives if these measures do not have the required result.
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