ARTICLES IN MEDIA



The battle to tackle Hull’s congestion and air quality problem as parents blamed for traffic spikes

Publish on June 19, 2017     Source: Hull Daily Mail


Tackling the air quality issue is an ever-growing problem across the UK and in Hull, with traffic levels dramatically worsening in recent years.

And it may not surprise drivers to hear one group cause a hike in congestion and air pollution across the city on a daily basis.

Parents who use their cars to collect their children from school, rather than walking or using public transport, are being blamed for "mid afternoon" snarl-ups.

Councillor Martin Mancey, portfolio holder for strategic transport, says he has noticed a key change in driver habits, with traffic now building around "school chuck-out time".

He said: "It used to be that we'd see congestion from around 4.30pm - 5pm, especially in the city centre. Now, there is a significant increase in traffic from about 3pm.

"My message to parents is, wherever possible, walk or catch a bus to collect your children."

Cllr Mancey's comments come as Greener Journeys, a national campaign group that calls on people to use alternative transport, predicts average traffic speeds in Hull are likely to drop from 17mph to 12mph by 2030.

Its experts say in heavy congestion, exhaust emissions are four times greater than in free-flowing traffic. Halving average traffic speeds is said to lead to a 50 per cent increase in harmful carbon emissions from larger vehicles.

In Hull, average bus speeds have slowed from 10.8mph to 9.1mph since 2002/3. Rising car ownership and an increase in traffic have seen Hull become the sixth most congested city in the UK in recent years.

Greener Journeys argues that, although government ministers have recognised the link between congestion and pollution, their plans fall short of tackling air pollution.

They say the government focuses on removing speed humps and traffic light sequencing rather than reducing the number of vehicles on the road, which it claims causes 75 per cent of all delays.

The group suggests the only way to resolve the air quality crisis is to reduce vehicle numbers and free up alternative forms of transport, such as buses.

Claire Haigh, chief executive of Greener Journeys, said the government must "take meaningful action" to tackle poor air quality in our towns and cities.

She added: "Congestion has a direct and severe impact on air pollution. The government's plans must tackle congestion and encourage greater use of sustainable transport modes such as the bus, which can take 75 cars off the road reducing both pollution and congestion."

Cllr Mancey said he supported the notion to get more cars off the road.

"There is a need for greater emphasis on a modal shift, moving people away from cars and towards public transport.

"As a council, we are adopting a two-prong approach. Firstly, we are trying to make public transport more attractive to people. Secondly, it's about providing priority measures for public transport, which has included the implementation of bus lane enforecement."

Cllr Mancey also pointed to the introduction of the Hull Card - a travel card that can be used on the both EYMS and Stagecoach buses - and wifi on selected EYMS routes as examples of measures to improve passenger experience.

He said drivers are also benefiting from the council's efforts to tackle notorious "pinch points", such as the recent widening of Anlaby Road.

But he suggested the single-most effective way of reducing congestion, and therefore improving air quality, is to tackle the misery that is Castle Street.

As part of a £250m upgrade scheme, a section of Castle Street will be lowered under a new bridge taking traffic between Ferensway and Commercial Road.

Two new footbridges are also planned, including a major pedestrian crossing from Princes Quay to the Marina.

"I have a meeting coming up with Highways England and Hedon Road haulage operators," said Cllr Mancey. "But I would not anticipate work starting before the end of next year, with completion not before 2022."



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