In developing the Joint Local Transport Plan we need to address the problems and opportunities relating to transport across the Greater Bristol area. As well as tackling local issues directly, the Plan must also address national priorities for transport.
The Government and the Local Government Association have agreed a set of ‘shared priorities’ to focus the efforts of Authorities and Government on improving public services in key areas. The shared priority relating to transport focuses on improving access to jobs and services, particularly for those most in need, in ways which are sustainable. These aims comprise of four elements onto which efforts should be focused:
- road safety
- air quality
There will be key targets set nationally for measuring progress in reducing congestion and, improving road safety, air quality and accessibility. Local targets will also be developed to address specific local issues and concerns.
Congestion affects us all, either directly or indirectly. The direct effects of congestion can be felt whilst undertaking journeys for many aspects of our lives such as work, school, leisure and health – influencing the time we spend travelling. Congestion also has a financial impact, costing millions of pounds each year to business through lost time and it’s impacts on tourism and the costs of individuals time. The health and environmental impacts of congestion have a detrimental effect on the quality of life for us all.
By improving public transport, widening transport choice and managing traffic flows we want to reduce congestion and its effects.
Every year several thousand people are killed on Britain’s roads and many more are seriously injured. In addition to the obvious human cost of road casualties, there is also a significant economic cost that affects far more of us, either directly or indirectly. The perceived dangers of certain roads also play a part in influencing peoples travel choices. We want to improve road safety for all road users through careful traffic management, and enhance the environment for pedestrians and cyclists.
There are national targets that Local Authorities must meet in terms of improving air quality. In both Bristol and Bath traffic congestion is a major cause of air pollution and ‘Air Quality Management Areas’ have been declared for a large area of central Bristol and the London Road Corridor of Bath. Area-wide measures such as reducing congestion and encouraging more environmentally sustainable forms of transport, along with more localised traffic management at pollution ‘hot spots’ can help to improve air quality.
Put simply this is about examining how easy it is to get around and undertake the activities that form part of our daily lives such as journeys to work, school, health facilities, and visiting friends and family. A major component of the Joint LTP will be to identify where there are problems with accessibility and, in partnership with key service providers such as the health authorities, to develop a strategic framework for the preparation of local action plans to address these issues. Whilst transport plays a key role in accessibility, in some cases issues such as the way in which a service is provided and how this can be improved, may provide a more effective solution.