05:00PM, Tuesday 19 January 2021
Residents have raised concerns over a council proposal to put a bus gate in Shoppenhangers Road to stop car drivers using the stretch as a 'rat run'.
The gate, which would be installed near the junction with Ludlow Road, would mean only buses, taxis and emergency vehicles could use the road for through journeys between Braywick Road and Larchfield.
The aim is to prevent people from using the area as a cut-through to avoid main roads. The bus gate will still allow access for people walking and cycling.
People would still be able to drive to access their homes and amenities.
The proposal is part of a range of active travel projects being funded by £335,000 from the Department for Transport (DfT).
In its proposal, the Royal Borough wrote: “Reduced through-traffic on residential and school streets will provide safer spaces for cycling and walking whilst maintaining social distancing, as well as lowering noise and air pollution.
“We want to make your area more pleasant to use, encouraging a shift towards more active and sustainable travel where possible.
“We appreciate they may cause some short-term disruption but believe the long-term benefits outweigh any disadvantages.”
However many residents have responded poorly to the proposal, calling it ‘madness’.
One fear is that it will increase congestion in other roads – and will extend the overall driving time, contrary to the environmentally-friendly intention behind the plan.
Another often repeated concern has highlighted the possible increased danger for cyclists from an increase in traffic on the alternative route on nearby Harvest Hill.
Councillor Gurch Singh was among those who voiced concern that the bus gate will be used to fine motorists who break the rules – and thus generate money for the council.
In a letter to Cllr Gerry Clark, lead member for transport and infrastructure, Cllr Singh also said he could ‘not see any sensible reason’ for the scheme.
He said: “I cannot see any sensible reason for spending this money when there is so much else in the borough which is that would surely be more worthy of this expenditure than this scheme.”
Cllr Clerk told the Advertiser that the consultation process is not costing the council money and that the Government grant cannot be transferred to other projects.
He said he was ‘disappointed’ with the reaction, especially from opposition councillors suggesting this was something the council plans to impose on residents against their wishes.
“It’s a consultation – that doesn’t imply that it’s going to happen,” he said. “It’s unacceptable that we’re being criticised for trying to improve travel and amenity – we should be supported.”
He described the concern over the fines as a ‘scurrilous rumour’.
“It’s absolute rubbish – a complete fabrication designed to put fear into residents’ hearts,” he said.
“Financial income from the scheme has played no part in it – there’s no presumption that there’s any revenue to be generated here.”
Cllr Clark said that the traffic flow analysis and other tools were used to determine which roads would best benefit from changes.
One consideration is that, while drivers can take alternate routes, it is more difficult for cyclists.
Cllr Clark added that he would only support the scheme if it showed that the benefits outweighed the problems.
Residents can give respond to a survey on the scheme, open until midnight on February 9, by visiting: tinyurl.com/y4xmqnk5
The candidates standing in the upcoming Thames Valley Police and Crime Commissioner election have outlined their priorities for policing in the region.