Council and residents’ reaction to Bournemouth congestion

TRANSPORT bosses have pledged to reduce congestion after Bournemouth was named one of the world’s worst places for traffic jams.

And they say the solution is not to build new roads by “bulldozing thousands of homes”, but to get more people to walk or cycle.

With dozens of road works underway in the conurbation over recent weeks, TomTom’s study now ranks Bournemouth as the 99th most congested city in the world.

And it’s no surprise to those in the know, with BCP Council transport manager Cllr Mike Greene describing the ranking as “absolutely correct”.

Cllr Greene told the Daily Echo the report vindicated the authority’s increasingly tough stance on reducing traffic in the conurbation – exemplified by more provisions for cyclists and pedestrians as well as the encouragement of public transport.

He said: “The report is entirely accurate and, although we may quibble over the actual ranking, there is no doubt that traffic congestion is a growing problem.

“The city’s population has increased by 20% in 20 years and during this time we estimate that 8% more vehicles have been added to our roads.

“In terms of a solution, building roads could be one – but that’s just not practical. There’s no space for that and we’d end up having to bulldoze thousands of homes.

“At the end of the day, we have two choices. We can let the situation escalate or provide quick and safe alternatives. The second is exactly what we started doing with our transformative travel program.

“If we could get a relatively small proportion of cars off the road by providing safe and fast alternatives, journey times would decrease exponentially. This is particularly the case for short trips since 15% of BCP trips are less than 2 km, which is easily passable on foot or by bike.

“We’re not asking everyone to walk or cycle, but those who can and are prepared should give it a try as it could make a huge difference.”

Cllr Greene also hailed the Beryl electric scooter scheme in Bournemouth and Poole as a “phenomenal success” in reducing congestion.

Roadworks and traffic delays on Alder Road in Poole.

Community group BH Active Travel said it was ‘not surprising’ that Bournemouth ranks so high in the report and believes a ‘total overhaul’ of the city’s transport network is needed.

A spokesperson for the group told the Echo: ‘There have been many studies into reducing traffic congestion, and the answers are not rocket science. The problem has been aggravated by the transport policy of the last 40 years favoring the automobile. We are now at a point in BCP where this is no longer sustainable.

“As a business district and a hotspot for tourism, BCP Council needs a total overhaul of its transport network, which we believe they are currently considering as part of the local plan.”

The group also put forward suggestions for reducing congestion, such as charging for workplace parking and safer, separate cycling and walking infrastructure.

They added: “Not only does cycling and walking reduce congestion, they also improve health and the environment. Not all roads require separate infrastructure. Costs can be reduced by implementing ‘quiet lanes’ – using modal filters and road design that slow down traffic. Anything that makes cycling and walking more attractive and safer will make some people change their habits.

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Echo readers also had their say on ways to improve congestion in the area. One person commented, “BCP has no traffic problems at all except summer and holiday weekends. You want a world-class vacation spot, you need to have the automotive infrastructure to handle it.

Others have called for fewer traffic lights, more parking and better organization of roadworks in the area – many of which are currently taking place concurrently.

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