Last week I saw a post calling for radical solutions to the city’s transport network but was disappointed to read that one of the first ‘radical solutions’ was to retain some old bus stops, admittedly aesthetically pleasing bus stops, but all the same old bus stops.
Rather than a plea for an effective and imaginative transport system for our city it was yet another list of localised complaints about the Valley Gardens scheme.
Personally, and from a transport planning perspective, I think the Valley Gardens scheme is fabulous. It’s a small contribution to a much-needed solution for city centre travel woes which creates better spaces whilst promoting walking, cycling and improving bus journey times.
The delivery of effective transport services in Brighton and Hove has long been crushed into submission by objectors. A good, or bad, example is the city’s now defunct tram system that was lobbied into ineffectiveness. Hoteliers and shop keepers stopped trams from serving the sea front and Western Road and the middle class residents of Hove didn’t want anything to do with such dirty and dangerous contraptions.
The city’s political triad doesn’t help either. If our leaders were to adopt a truly world class vision for the city, they would start by removing all car traffic from the city centre.
This would include new park and ride facilities, repurposing the city’s many car parks, removing on-street car parking spaces, and spreading controlled parking to the whole city, not just the centre. Work place levies (WPL) are also a great idea and good generators of cash.
Nottingham’s WPL has generated nearly £9million per year since it started, with nearly 100% compliance, and no appreciable losses to the local business community.
We could create a seafront to be proud of, rather than having it dominated by a road that carries upward of 32,000 vehicles a day. It’s no surprise that the city’s air quality is poor.
If Brighton and Hove wants to be a city fit for the future, then we must let our hard working and diligent designers and engineers be allowed to think the unthinkable and design us a city that works.
These bold ideas must be supported by politicians and city wide residents to ensure that our city’s transport system doesn’t continue to be stifled, for decades to come, by local objectors.
One final thought. Whether it’s automation or to help fight climate change, within a generation eight out of ten cars will be removed from our roads. Let’s start designing for the future and not waste any more time listening to self-interested individuals and pressure groups.
Steve Reeves is a director of a Brighton-based transport planning and engineering business. He has lived and worked in the city for nearly 25 years.
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