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 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 other residential areas. Traffic must be reduced across the city, not just displaced. Through traffic must be removed: 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 and affordable charges.
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 NO2 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 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.
We welcome B&NES Council's decision to implement a Clean Air Plan for Bath. There should be robust monitoring of its effectiveness and of any displacement of traffic, and contingency plans in case the scheme performs significantly differently than predicted. We are not convinced of the effectiveness of the proposed traffic lights at Queen Square: they are likely to result in traffic backing up, leading to increased congestion and pollution in the area. In that event the Council should be prepared to reconsider the option of closing some sides of Queen Square, which would also yield benefits for the public realm in this iconic space.
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