Green Party Response to the Shrewsbury Integrated Transport Proposals

29 March 2016

We welcome the objectives of the SITP, particularly OB3 “to reduce the volume of traffic flows through the historic and commercial town centre”. We have considerable misgivings about the expenditures in the existing SITP proposals as we do not believe they will achieve their aims in relation to reducing town-centre traffic and encouraging sustainable modes of transport (OB6).

As the proposals now stand they contain a fundamental flaw: there are no figures for current traffic levels or targets for future reductions. How can success be measured in these circumstances or value for money be assessed?
We acknowledge that an SITP-type initiative can only scratch the surface of what is needed across Shrewsbury. It is disappointing however that the proposals do not provide an overarching vision of the Shrewsbury we wish to become, with an explanation of how SITP will contribute to achieving that. We should like to see SITP used to achieving this vision in at least one area of Shrewsbury.

Given that behaviour change in travel is extremely difficult to attain it is vital that proposed changes tick all the boxes for behavioural change. Moving home is a key time of disruption when individuals explore and reassess their routes to work, to schools, to shops etc and make decisions about buying a car or cars based on travel options available. The expansion of Shrewsbury into the Sustainable Urban Extensions South and West provide the best opportunity for influencing new residents before they move in. We urge that a major part of the SITP funds be spent in providing at least one geographic sector of Shrewsbury with world class standard (genuinely modern Dutch) walking and cycling provision as the first step on converting all of Shrewsbury into a place where most journeys are undertaken by health giving, zero carbon, space efficient active travel.

For this to happen journey routes need to be as quick as they possibly can be, and to feel safe. The new walking and cycling provision needs to be in place before the new residents arrive, and accompanied by high-profile promotion including information packs for new residents. The current SITP proposals state that any walking and cycling improvements will be put in place once the first houses in the SUEs are occupied – this will be too late as travel choices will already have been made.

With the existing former railway line having already been converted to a traffic free walking and cycling route the nearby Springfield housing estate should have works to provide ‘safe feeling’ access to that route, and to other segregated cycle tracks to key destinations: Shrewsbury College, Abbey Foregate, Meole Brace retail park, secondary schools. The SUE South is sufficiently distant from the former railway line cycle route as to require its own direct route to the town centre.

There exists a pedestrian right of way from Sutton Grange housing estate to the Reabrook Estate. We suggest land be acquired to upgrade this route to a suitable cycle way. Along Oteley Road there is sufficient space to change existing low grade cycling provision to high quality safe feeling segregated cycle tracks. Crossing points of roads require single phase lights. Cycling needs to be direct, convenient and quick. Direct access into the Meole Brace retail park (north-west corner) will facilitate quick and convenient journeys compared with the equivalent journey by car.

Within the town centre we are sceptical that significant change will be effected by the proposed cosmetic changes in the Square and outside the indoor market. Without closing Mardol Head to motor traffic it is difficult to see how the ambience of the area can be made relaxing for people.

We believe funds should instead be spent on one of the town’s main gateways, Shrewsbury bus and coach station. This should be transformed into somewhere light and pleasant with sliding doors on the bus bays to keep warm air inside, bright lighting, better signage, refurbished toilets, and stylish new shelters for the bus and coach stops outside.
Evidence shows that better bus services, and traffic-free areas, bring benefits for town centre trade. The “suppressed economy” (SITP section 3) would gain from bus station improvements as well as from a more comprehensive programme of work to encourage walking and cycling than is currently proposed.

In summary we feel that the SITP proposals lack vision. They do not meet the challenge of tackling the increased traffic that will certainly result from the development of the SUEs. This, together with the cuts to bus services and the slow timescale of improvements to cycling, mean that the opportunity to reduce town-centre traffic and improve air quality – aims which are very widely- supported – will be missed.