Queen Charlton traffic ban boosts walking and cycling

HUNDREDS of vehicles a day have been taken off a ‘rat run’ route between Keynsham and Whitchurch since trial traffic restrictions came into force.

A survey of residents revealed that most supported the scheme affecting Queen Charlton Lane, Bath and North East Somerset Council has revealed.

One respondent commented: “This road was being used as a ‘rat run’ prior to the closure. Since the trial, I have been able to walk along a quiet country lane without fear of being knocked down.”

Through-traffic was prevented from travelling between Queen Charlton Lane and Whitchurch as part of one of three Liveable Neighbourhood experimental trials run by the council. The other two were at Southlands (Weston) and Church Street (Widcombe) in Bath.

Results of all three trials have been published as part of the next step in deciding whether to make them permanent.

B&NES Council said: “The aim is to stop motorists using Queen Charlton Lane as an inappropriate shortcut (or through route) when travelling between Keynsham and Bristol and to provide a safe, healthy environment for residents, pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.”

To keep traffic out of the narrow lane, two sets of drop-down bollards and temporary wooden planters were installed – one set just after Furthermead Farm and the other before Dapwell Lane. Landowners and farmers have been able to drop the bollards to gain access.

Data revealed that, on average, 470-500 fewer vehicle movements per day were recorded on Queen Charlton Lane after the trial started in November 2022 – a cut of around 85%.

On Woollard Lane, northbound traffic increased by 250-275 vehicle movements a day (11-12%), while southbound traffic rose by 370-425 (10-12%).

On the southwest section of Charlton Road, northbound traffic rose by 575-580 vehicles a day (13-15%) and southbound traffic by 640 (16%).

Walking and cycling in the lane increased significantly, with an average of 50 more pedestrians a day (a rise of 300%) and 12-18 more cyclists (60-80%).

The council said: “The data shows that the trial has significantly reduced through-traffic on Queen Charlton Lane and provided a safe and pleasant route for walking and cycling. In turn, this has encouraged an uplift in active travel along the lane.”

It said the increase in traffic on Woollard Lane and Charlton Road was to be expected, as the purpose of the trial was to encourage commuters to stay on the main roads. Some of the data suggested a general increase in traffic on routes that would otherwise be unaffected by the trial.

“On balance, it appears that the volume of displaced traffic is relatively modest, considering the length and the directness of the route that was closed to through-traffic, and the changes in traffic elsewhere.”

In the survey of residents, 84 respondents (73%) supported the trial scheme while 24 (21%) opposed it.

Those who backed it said the area felt safer, especially for children and the elderly, and it was more pleasant for walking and cycling.
Those against it argued that it was unfair to motorcyclists, had caused traffic congestion elsewhere, and that the scheme was unnecessary and a waste of money.

Councillor Manda Rigby, cabinet member for transport, said: “I look forward to considering the outcomes presented in these reports before a decision is made on whether to make these trials permanent.”

She said the council would also be considering similar schemes in five areas of Bath.

“The long list of proposed interventions suggested by local communities across all the Liveable Neighbourhood areas is being reviewed by local councillors and considered as part of a full business case to be submitted to the West of England Combined Authority in early summer 2024.”