Brighton & Hove City Council is currently consulting on a new Local Transport Plan (LTP5), and Local Cycling and Walking Infrastructure Plan (LCWIP).
There is a huge amount to be welcomed. The direction of travel is good, and the ambition is clear. The council wants to make walking and cycling safe and easy, and bus travel affordable and convenient. There is a commitment to air quality and health, and to meeting the city’s aspirations for a carbon-neutral 2030.
The overarching Vision of the Local Transport Plan is “Better connected residents, businesses and visitors, for an improved quality of life in a healthy, inclusive and carbon neutral city”.
In pursuit of this vision, there are three main objectives:
- Reduce the need to travel
- Switch how people travel
- Encourage cleaner vehicles
Within the plan, the council hopes to achieve these objectives by
- creating an inclusive and integrated transport system
- developing streets and places that encourage and enable active travel
- increasing public transport use
- reducing car use
- promoting and facilitating the use of low and zero emission vehicles
- promoting and using technology to reduce and manage travel
There are many positive actions proposed as part of the plans, ranging from the creation of a “liveable city centre”, strategic transport hubs and an expanded ultra-low emissions zone; to support for car-free developments, school streets and low traffic neighbourhoods. In addition the LCWIP also has very ambitious plans to create walking zones across large parts of the city where walking is made much easier, safer and more pleasant; as well as a network of safe cycling routes.
What do we think?
The Big Lemon wholeheartedly welcomes the objectives, but has some reservations about how they are to be achieved. In short, we do not believe that the actions identified in the plan will be enough to achieve the plan’s objectives.
Why do we think this? Because the current draft of the plan stops short of the radical action required to realise its vision. To achieve a better connected, inclusive and carbon neutral city will require a much more radical change to the city’s transport infrastructure.
While an expanded ultra-low emissions zone is very much welcomed, there is no specific information on the area that will be covered or the vehicles that it will apply to; and most importantly there is no mention of a congestion zone. The ultra-low emissions zone by itself will not reduce congestion long term because as vehicle manufacturers shift to electric (and in some cases hydrogen) more and more vehicles will become compliant and therefore will no longer be covered by the zone. This is a good thing for air quality, but it’s not a long term solution for congestion.
Additionally, in order to make buses more attractive to people we need to make them quicker and cheaper; and although the draft plans recognise this, they are not sufficiently ambitious to achieve it. Red routes and bus priority at junctions will make a difference and we welcome them, but they are incremental improvements – not the radical change that is required to create a noticeable difference to journey times and fares.
What would this radical change look like?
- A comprehensive network of sustainable transport corridors, with segregated bus and cycle lanes ,would make active travel and public transport much more attractive and allow for significantly faster journeys and, ultimately, cheaper fares.
- On-street parking should be restricted to side roads, leaving the main routes in and out of the city fully available to maximise movement along these important corridors. In short, our valuable strategic routes in and out of the city should not be used for parking vehicles in.
- Strategic transport hubs should be close to the city boundary with sufficient parking to take most incoming vehicles off the road and provide their passengers with fast and convenient trains, buses and cycle routes straight to the heart of the city