A4 travel plans ‘no benefit to Saltford residents’

PROPOSALS to transform travel on the A4 Keynsham bypass to boost bus, cycling and walking options have come under fire from Saltford Parish Council.

It says it “strongly objects” to the scheme and that the proposals “provide no transport benefit to Saltford residents.”

The parish council has submitted its views to the West of England Combined Authority (WECA) consultation, which was due to close on October 1.

Under the proposals, bus lanes would be installed along the length of the bypass in each direction, leaving just one lane on each side of the road for all other traffic. The speed limit would also be dropped from 70mph to 50mph.

Along the Bristol-bound side of the bypass, separated from the road by shrubbery and landscaping, a walking and cycling route would be installed.

A “mobility hub” would also be set up on the bypass at the edge of Keynsham Memorial Park – a bus stop with shelters, screens showing live bus times, bike storage, mobile phone charging, toilets, and wi-fi.

WECA says that by making bus travel, walking and cycling easier, the proposals could cut traffic jams and air pollution.

But Saltford Parish Council said they would actually make air quality worse, adversely impact ‘active travel’ incentives, and come at “huge expense to residents of Saltford and its businesses.”

It added: “Saltford Parish Council specifically opposes the proposal for two bus lanes the length of the Keynsham bypass due to the negative impact on Saltford for a theoretical minimal gain in speed for some buses.”

The council says restricting non-bus traffic to just one lane each way would increase congestion, substantially slowing the flow of traffic on the A4 through Saltford.

“Both buses and cars will experience this congestion, and any time ‘gained’ for buses from using bus lanes on the bypass would be more than lost in traffic jams at either end of the approach to the bypass. Therefore there will be no net benefit to bus users and substantial disadvantage to all other motor traffic.”

It said the resulting congestion would also mean higher vehicle emissions and therefore air pollution for those living, cycling and walking along the A4 in Saltford, including children going to school.

The council believes the proposals would encourage the use of Norman Road, High Street and The Shallows as a ‘rat run’.

“This will be a safety concern for pedestrians as many of the narrow historic sections of highway do not have pavements. Similarly, it will hinder cyclists’ use to/from the Bristol to Bath Railway path due to the increased volume of motor traffic. Accidents are likely to occur.”

The council says it would support a single cycle lane (allowing travel in both directions) on the bypass on its southern side.

The council said that a better way to encourage bus use would be “the continued provision of a regular, reliable X39 bus service at affordable prices”. It also favours greater use of rail services.

“Reopening Saltford Station must be an integral part of any consultation and package to address road congestion and pollution on the A4 Bath to Bristol Corridor.”

It added: “Saltford Parish Council recognises the value of measures to reduce the volume of vehicles on the A4 and to support the use of public transport. However, the proposals as put forward in the consultation would both fail to significantly contribute to these aims and would measurably disadvantage Saltford residents as well as commuters from Bristol, Bath, Keynsham, etc.”

The parish council also reiterated its strong objection to more double yellow lines on the High Street.

One proposal the council does support is a new pedestrian crossing by the Esso garage. It said this would be a welcome safety measure as a number of children use the garage shop on their way to and from Wellsway School.

Meanwhile, Keynsham Town Council resolved at its meeting on September 19 that each councillor would submit their responses individually.

The council decided it would consider a fuller response once it had seen more detailed plans and would liaise closely with WECA and B&NES throughout this process.

Full details of the WECA proposals can be seen at https://b2b.haveyoursaywest.co.uk/

Pictured, how the A4 through Saltford could look under the plans Image: West of England Combined Authority