Councillors have called for ‘liveable neighbourhoods’ in areas just outside Bristol’s Clean Air Zone to stop them becoming clogged with traffic and turning into “unofficial park and rides”.
Members of a council committee made the call as they expressed fears that polluting cars will skirt round the edges of the zone and park in streets on the periphery to avoid clean air charges.
It comes after a campaign was launched last year to create liveable neighbourhoods across Bristol with traffic filters such as bollards to stop cars, vans and lorries using certain streets as rat-runs.
All polluting vehicles, including private cars, are expected to be charged to enter a ‘small CAZ D’ in the city centre, and polluting commercial vehicles may have to pay charges across a bigger area.
Several members of the council’s overview and scrutiny management committee told senior transport officials this month they feared the small CAZ would create parking problems in wards on the edges of the zone and turn some suburban roads into “semi trunk roads”.
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Members representing Southmead and Westbury-on-Trym and Henleaze said they were worried that even more traffic would end up in north Bristol, and councillors representing parts of south Bristol had similar concerns.
Labour member for Bedminster, Celia Phipps, said she was especially worried about parking in her ward, as she expected drivers would park there to avoid CAZ charges and walk into town.
She asked whether it might be possible for the council to introduce liveable neighbourhoods on the periphery of the zone.
Conservative councillor for Horfield, Claire Hiscott, said her ward was already an “unofficial park and ride” and it would happen wherever there was a major bus route into town at the edge of the CAZ.
Cllr Hiscott said: “If you look at those main arteries, the main bus routes into the city centre, wherever it is possible to park, jump on a bus, that is going to become a park and ride.
“I can see it happening in a lot of places.
“Horfield is basically, has become a bit of an unofficial park and ride anyway, because people drive in from outside of Bristol, they park somewhere where they can then hop on a bus.
“The impact is that there is nowhere to park in Horfield at all, ever.
“And so far, nobody’s ever thought about the fact that we might need to be a liveable neighbourhood.”
The council’s head of strategic city transport, Adam Crowther, said his team would be developing a policy for introducing liveable neighbourhoods over the few months.
“There are an awful lot of things to consider about how we prioritise where these schemes are implemented,” he said.
“Certainly the Clean Air Zone would be one of the factors that would influence where priorities are placed.
“One thing you have to consider is, if you’re creating a liveable neighbourhoods, it needs really to give people a viable route in and out of town by bike, otherwise it’s quite hard to justify the changes, to some extent.”
The government will not fund liveable neighbourhoods as part of the CAZ because such schemes do not directly affect the city’s compliance with legal levels of traffic air pollutant nitrogen dioxide (NO2), members heard.
Mr Crowther said some income from the CAZ will be ring-fenced to pay for liveable neighbourhoods, and that there was separate government support and funding available for them.
“It’s not going to happen overnight,” he said. “It’s going to be a long-term change over a period of time and it really does depend on how much funding the government actually releases to us.”
Addressing concerns about older cars driving around the CAZ to avoid charges and polluting areas in the periphery, Mr Crowther said the effect would be “relatively limited”.
He said the effect of the CAZ would be to clean up the entire “fleet” of cars, buses, taxis, lorries and other vehicles on the road, and reduce the number of trips people make in their cars.
The meeting took place on February 2.
An analysis by The Times published on February 13 found low-traffic neighbourhoods in London and Birmingham have been introduced in wealthier streets at the expense of poorer neighbouring roads.