Herts Local Transport Plan - NH&S GP Response

1 January 2018

Response to the Hertfordshire Local Transport Plan 2017 Consultation

 

1. This response is from: North Hertfordshire and Stevenage Green Party (“NH&S GP”) – with thanks for the opportunity to consult on this plan.

 

2. LTP4 Strategic Approach: We agree with the intention to reduce car-use and encourage switch-over to other transport modes such as walking, cycling, and passenger transport. Unfortunately, the strategic approach in the LTP is mostly more of the same which has resulted in negligible change in the last 15 years. We think the approach may be too unambitious to implement real change, and would like to see a much bolder approach. This could be piloted in a “destination-location”. The car and other road vehicles (such as lorries) negatively impact other modes of transport causing air pollution for walkers, danger for cyclists, and slow trips for bus users. Reducing car numbers must come with alternative provision, perhaps by using car parking constraints at the same time as providing alternative modes of sustainable transport. We therefore agree with policies to reduce the ease and comfort of car use, although it’s important to maintain transport accessibility (eg for the disadvantaged, disabled, or elderly). It does not seem likely that this can be done gradually, but rather in a quick swap. For Hitchin, there is an opportunity to upgrade the railway station by providing access from the east and south sides to encourage walking to the station. Provision of this access fits with local housing plans, as access is very poor at the moment.

Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

 

Additionally, there is an assumption that short journeys don’t need to be made by car - but these journeys often involve transport of goods (such as the family weekly shop or transport of children). This may also explain the poor uptake of Stevenage (quite hilly) cycle paths - you can’t carry a lot of shopping on a bike. The purposes of trips need to be explored, to identify which type of trips are most responsive to car-use reduction.

 

Poor public transport and poor uptake of public transport is a chicken-and-egg situation.

 

3. LTP4 Practical Approach: The words sound fine, however in practice adjectives like “priority, improvement, and better” are subjective, limited to the facilities already in place (such as road width), can be ignored, ineffective, and circumnavigated. Supplying information is good, but people are saturated with information so this might be a challenge to actually achieve. “Traffic demand management” might have an adverse effect on urban centres/businesses, and there may be resistance.

Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

 

4. Additional highway capacity: Although additional highway capacity will only be considered after other options have failed, there is an implied acceptance in the LTP that other options will fail. We think the provision of new road space will ensure that other options fail as this supports “business as usual” and “car use as usual”. The NH&S GP want less road building - not more. We also want to help end the public health crisis caused by air pollution by increasing incentives to take some vehicles (particularly diesel) off the road.

Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

 

5. Shared mobility: We feel this is a very minor part of encouraging reduction of car use, and feel that this is already in place where it works for people. There is a danger of the Council committing resources to this and not getting much in the way of results. We feel that curbing car use by parking restrictions and provision of infrastructure and more passenger transport, more often, will be much more effective (such as off-road cycle paths, cycle parking and storage; maybe hire of electric bikes; also more rail interconnectivity and east-west rapid buses).

Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

 

6. Electric cars: We support the adoption of Ultra Low Emission Vehicles and approve of enough free charging points and parking for these vehicles; along streets (using lampposts) in car parks and including at supermarkets/shopping centres. We hope that Councils will move to electric vehicles themselves, and promote the use of these vehicles by contracting with companies that use electric vehicles.

Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

 

7. Further explanation of each point is given above.

 

Policies and Activities

 

8. LTP4 policies

 

1. Transport User Hierarchy………………………..Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

2. Influencing Land Use Planning…………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

3. Travel Plans and Behaviour Change…………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

41. Demand Management……………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

52. Development Management……………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

6. Accessibility…………………………………………….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

7. Active Travel – Walking……………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

8. Active Travel – Cycling…………………………….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

9. Buses………………………………………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

10. Rail………………………………………………………..Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

11. Airports………………………………………………….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

12. Network Management…………………………..Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

13. New Roads and Junctions………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

14. Climate Change Network Resilience……….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

15. Speed Management……………………………….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

16. Freight and Logistics………………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

17. Road Safety……………………………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

18. Transport Safety and Security………………..Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

19. Emissions Reduction………………………………Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

20. Air Quality……………………………………………..Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

21. Environment………………………………………….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

22. Asset Management………………………………..Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

23. Growth and Transport Plan…………………….Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree.

 

Notes:

41. Provision of alternative services must come first, or at the same time.

52. Any road or other development needs to pass a list of stringent questions including environmental questions and assessments of local need.

63. For example, rail users in Hitchin who live South or East of the railway station have to access the station using a narrow walkway, under the Cambridge Road railway bridge. This walkway is virtually inaccessible to mobility scooters, wheelchair users and those pushing a double buggy.

84. Hilly areas are not conducive to cycling. The local terrain should also be considered.

95. Only providing “cost-effective and efficient” bus services will hamstring the service because of low “connect-ability”. The aims of improving the buses should be service-led not business-led.

106. East-west connections need specific support.

117. The Green Party is strongly opposed to increased air travel due to the high climate-change effect, also increased noise, making it impossible to live happily under flight paths.

128. Network management already happens at a personal level if you use the satnav on your phone.

139. New roads are a backward step which encourage car use.

1410. There is nothing meaningful in this policy besides a vague “greenwash”!

1611. There doesn’t seem to be many “teeth” in this mild policy. This seems to be a tacit agreement to allow “business as usual”.

1912, 2013. Emissions could be reduced much more actively, for example by applying fines to big polluters in sensitive areas.

2114. Air, water, and soil need specific protection, as do any environmentally sensitive areas or ecosystems or biodiversity/particular species which relate to an area.

 

Major Schemes and Corridor Commentary

Cycle Infrastructure Improvement Towns, Sustainable Travel Towns, Passenger Transport Hubs/Coachway, A414 Bus Rapid Transit, Hertford Bypass, New M1 Junction 8a (additional junction), New Rail Stations to Investigate

Strongly Agree, Agree, Neutral, Disagree, Strongly Disagree

 

The schemes listed are a mix of planned activity both approved and disapproved of by the NH&S GP hence the neutral score. In general, the following points are important to us:

 

Projected vs actual need

A key distinction between Green Party (“GP”) transport policy and others is the emphasis on projected need in more standard plans. The GP only want to provide what is necessary and efficient with ecological constraints (called Demand Management – with a different meaning to the one in the LTP4) and simply providing for anticipated demand is condemned as wasteful, damaging and unsustainable. After all, you might have got it wrong.

 

Hierarchy of modes – walking is primary

The GP has a similar hierarchy of modes to that described in the plan: walking/disabled access; cycling; passenger transport (trains, light rail/trams, buses/ferries) and rail and water-borne freight; light goods vehicles/taxis/low-powered motorbikes; cars and high-powered motorbikes, heavy goods vehicles and finally, aeroplanes. Our 2017 Manifesto Transport Policy calls for investment in low traffic neighbourhoods, with safe and convenient routes for walking and cycling.

 

Cycling

The key to promoting the use of bicycles are: reducing the need to travel long distances for work, leisure and shopping; and improving road conditions to make them safe convenient and comfortable to cycle on, including reallocating road space.

 

We would like to see stricter enforcement of parking and other violation of cycling facilities.

 

Buses and trains

The GP wants to see a shift from private car use to public transport, within the wider context of its Transport Policy.

  1. Buses/trains should link to provide transport for regular and predictable commuter journeys, school journeys, shopping and tourist journeys.
  1. Buses/trains should be frequent (hourly as a minimum, including Sundays and evenings) and service all settlements so that all villages connect to the nearest town and/or rail station. This means there will need to be a substantial increase in the number and range of services.
  2. Ticketing should be as simple and comprehensive as possible, sold from a variety of outlets, and with large discounts for frequent users to encourage use.
  3. There should be space for wheelchairs, buggies, cycles and luggage.
  4. Buses should have priority over other traffic, including parking, although the GP would not support anything that reduced the viability of local facilities (for example the loading needed for small businesses).
  5. Buses should have priority pulling away from bus stops, and bus lay-bys for bus stops would gradually be removed.
  6. The GP supports the development of better infrastructure to support the bus/train services, including shelters with seating, improvements to stations, interchange facilities, and good bus/rail interchanges.
  7. To overcome delays in bus use, and increase the sense of safety, the GP would aim to have conductors back on buses as widely as possible, but especially in urban areas.
  8. The GP does not support the introduction of Park and Ride services generally, as they tend to enhance the culture of driving in rural areas; however, in some locations Park and Ride may be one of the most effective ways of reducing cars, as long as the users are charged sufficiently so that money can go towards developing more sustainable modes of transport; and measures (including subsidies) protect ordinary bus priority. Park and Ride facilities should not be built on greenbelt land.

 

For rail in particular:

  1. Adding more tracks and junctions to existing lines.
  2. Reintroducing passengers to lines that at present are used only for freight.
  3. Major investment in new rail infrastructure, either along disused lines where applicable, or by building new lines where these would serve perceived demand, particularly east-west across Hertfordshire.
  4. Opening additional stations to give all communities reasonable access to the rail service and improving access to existing stations.
  5. Building more rolling stock to relieve overcrowding and handle increasing demand, particularly as housing and population increase.

Air transport

The GP seeks a reduction in the amount and impact of air transport. The GP advocates a drastic reduction in the number of journeys made by air for whatever purpose. We do not support the expansion of Luton airport either in terms of more runways or an increase in number of flights.  The GP supports the provision of public transport links by rail and road to existing airports, and opposes additional provision for the use of private cars.

 

Building/Hertford bypass

The GP is opposed to building new roads. Evidence shows that new road capacity becomes full almost immediately.

 

Before any extra building takes place (eg for additional motorway junctions):

1. Choice of land

Appropriate land should be chosen - rather than availability being decided by the sellers, as it is now.

2. Evidence-base for development

The land needs to be thoroughly investigated, as does the decision-making process, according to the following:

  • The functions of the green belt should be unaffected
  • The landscape/historical landscape should be taken into account
  • The land may be important at a local, regional, national or international level and this must be taken into account
  • The decision to build should be underpinned by a vigorous evidence base including: availability of land, housing and other variables, employment, local ecology and ecosystems and the historic environment
  • Designated land should not be used, such as floodplains, LNRs, SSSIs, AONB etc, ancient (or preferably any) woodlands
  • The use of re-cycled building materials (eg hardcore) should be encouraged
  • Return rainwater to the aquifer by using permeable asphalt/soakaways
  • Prime agricultural land/tillable land – this is valuable and the Green Party would prefer not to lose it
  • The effects of climate change, eg likely shortages in fresh water or changes in the availability of arable land must be taken into account

3. If the area is re-designated because of ecological surveys there can be no development

Thus, the least sensitive, most accessible land should be chosen for building. The GP approach for damage to wildlife is “avoid, mitigate and compensate” in that order.

 

Thank you for the opportunity to consult on LTP4.






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