Sunday, 21 February 2010

More road expansions


The roundabout slated for expansion if the pro-traffic lobby get their way

CIN was recently informed that a proposal to widen the roundabout between Llety Parc and Morrisons has been submitted to the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG).

Sadly, local Plaid Cymru councillors have been lobbying to get road entries widened (aimed at 'improving traffic flow entering the roundabout' = making it easier for car drivers), as they state in their 'Llanbadarn Fawr Newsletter' (February 2010). They said that as a result of their lobbying an engineering consultancy company, Atkins, were appointed by the Mid-Wales Transport Consortium to look into proposals for the WAG Regional Transport Plan 2009/10.



The result of widening each entry would be to make the whole roundabout area larger and expand onto more green areas.

Why is this proposal undesirable?
1. The policy of the Assembly (and all green organisations) is to reduce car usage. The only way to do that is to make car usage less attractive than other options. If there is congestion then that is great - it may prompt some drivers to ditch the car for a bicycle or bus or walking/running. Whereas widening lanes to improve traffic flow has the opposite effect, since travelling by car then seems easier and more convenient. This is such basic logic that it is amazing that so few people comprehend it.

2. There is a claimed 'major congestion' at a few times on some days. However any congestion is mostly caused by the school-run traffic.

Consider the two photos below, taken from the centre of Llanbadarn Fawr at c. 8.45 am, Friday 8th January 2010. Normally at this time there would be lots of traffic. Notice anything? This was a work day, but the main difference from a normal work day was that the local schools were closed for the day on 8th January. This shows what CIN has stated all along - the vast majority of local traffic which causes problems is school-run related, limited to two times during the day (only on weekdays and in term time...) While parents insist on driving their children to school this is inevitable.






3. The area by the roundabout is already unattractive - it is a huge roundabout, making the area feel more like an industrial estate than anywhere worth visiting, and it is unfortunately the first impression of Aberystwyth for many visitors. Widening lanes and laying concrete over yet more greenery will make it even more of an eyesore for everyone who passes that way.

4. The proposal mentioned improving the pedestrian crossing situation. However that can be done without widening the roads. If it is required then just slap in zebra crossings around the roundabout. That is safer for pedestrians, and helps to make walking more attractive to local commuters than car driving.
Sadly this is what happens when ribboning of development is allowed to occur. First there are out-of-town developments like Morrisons, which increase the number of unsustainable car journeys. Next developments spread all along those roads, as we have seen with the proliferation of floodplain housing estates, destroying the natural riverside habitat. Finally - because there is then more traffic - WAG and councils look at widening roads to ease the traffic that their own bad planning has created so that the situation can continue to worsen. And here we see the result of that.

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