The Council is poised to make major changes to the plans for traffic restrictions in The Groves area which were agreed last year.
According to a report being considered at a meeting on 22nd June, additional road closures will be implemented. Some additional “on street” parking spaces will be lost.
The closures could be implemented within 2/3 weeks. The experimental traffic order would last for up to 18 months.
The revised plans include several “contraflow” cycle lanes on relatively narrow streets – a system criticised on safety grounds by some cyclists.
An expected restriction of school “drop off” arrangements has not materialised.
The Council has been reluctant to publish traffic modelling figures which would reveal the impact on congestion, journey times and pollution in this part of the City.
A large number of objections to the original plans were received by the Council. Residents were concerned about additional pollution on the longer diversion routes. Some cited difficulties with severance from key facilities like the hospital and Monks Cross. Others said that deliveries would be hampered while some local shops and businesses said that, if passing trade was lost, then they might close.
The haste to implement additional restrictions under the cloak of a COVID response will cause more general concerns. The City centre economy faces a major challenge over the next few months. Either people will return to shop there despite restrictions on public transport, or they will go elsewhere. Those measures, along with plans to close the key Castle car park, may be bad news for those retailers who are on the financial brink.
While the current lower traffic volumes may appear to be an opportunity for experiments, as we try to move out of recession, a more cautious approach is required.