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Don't abandon Cheltenham traffic lights switch-off plan - borough councillor warns

By Gloucestershire Echo  |  Posted: March 21, 2013

lights off: The traffic experiment in St Margaret's Road in November

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DEMANDS are being made for Shire Hall not to abandon a scheme to switch off traffic lights on a busy Cheltenham road.

Gloucestershire Highways officials decided against introducing the scheme permanently in St Margaret's Road after a three-week trial in December. But now Cheltenham borough councillors could ask them to reconsider.

The lights were covered up by Gloucestershire Highways as part of an experiment to alleviate the stop-start effect created by the many sets of traffic signals along the route.

Motorists said the experiment was a success and went some way to improving traffic flow along the stretch.

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But the county council ruled against bringing in the scheme following concerns about pedestrian safety.

Borough councillors are determined not to let the matter drop and are forwarding a motion calling on the county authority to reconsider their stance and find a permanent solution to the traffic woes.

Councillor Andrew Lansley (LD, St Paul's) has proposed the motion, which will go before full council next week.

He said: "We have had an overwhelming amount of feedback from residents that the trial scheme was a success and did make a difference to improving traffic flow.

"With that in mind we just don't want to close the book on this idea.

"I accept there were one or two problems which were raised, but you wouldn't expect such a scheme to be introduced without one or two hiccups.

"The benefits of the scheme outweighed any negatives.

"I'd like there to be an investigation into the problems raised by pedestrians and cyclists as well as what might be done to resolve them." The motion will be considered by Cheltenham Borough Council on Monday at 2.30pm.


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  • raidermanuk  |  March 22 2013, 11:25AM

    Abby-7 "Will somebody please start an internet campaign" Go for it Abby-7 - why don't you start one? "remember the ridiculous traffic light outside the Brewery!" Er yes but did you actually read this story? It's about the ridiculous traffic light outside the Brewery!

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  • Abby-7  |  March 21 2013, 8:08PM

    Will somebody please start an internet campaign, public embarrassment is the only way to get GCC to do something, remember the ridiculous traffic light outside the Brewery!

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  • Mark_S  |  March 21 2013, 5:48PM

    They need to make a lot of traffic lights in Cheltenham temporary so they are switched off during the evenings. Tewkesbury Road is a nightmare, especially the lights on the roundabout at the end of PE way. There's no need for them to be in use outside busy times

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  • AndyPrestbury  |  March 21 2013, 5:37PM

    During the trial period what factors were measured to determine if it was a success or not? I woudl be very interested to know if they monitored pollutants during the trial, and if they had changed? After all if this was based on a safety matter surely the long term health effects should be taken into account as well as the more immediate accident safety issue?

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  • raidermanuk  |  March 21 2013, 5:17PM

    As a driver using the area at irregular hours it was an improvement. As a pedestrian I found it took a little longer to cross - but no problem. I'm sure the additional road debris and multitude of covered trafic lights added to the visual confusion for pedestrians. I suspect RoadWombat is right in his analysis.

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  • RoadWombat  |  March 21 2013, 4:13PM

    Let's not forget how the councils are assessed on these things. Congestion (or the free flow of traffic) is very difficult to quantify whereas road accident statistics are much easier. The main criteria under which they are judged is therefore "safety" - the number of accidents. That being the case, they don't give a hoot about travel times and congestion, so long as the roads are "safe". It doesn't matter about how long it takes people to get from A to B, nor any savings in petrol, air quality etc. Hence the never-ending mantra about "safety" and press releases about how yet more wasteful road engineering will make the roads so much safer for children, the elderly and their so-called "vulnerable groups". They are also judged on take up of public transport and cycles, so the more people they can drive out of their cars, the more bus and cycle lanes they put in, the more brownie points they get.

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  • Misfit901  |  March 21 2013, 3:55PM

    Maybe it's all aprt of some grand scheme to stop the traffic moving in Cheltenham so sneaking in pedestrianisation by default? I worked in Dursley years ago and the lights outside the post office (as it was then, see recently it's something else now) always caused the most awful gridlock at morning and evening busy periods. A year or two ago there were major roadworks at that junction that entailed turning off the lights and putting in a coned roundabout since when the queues magically evaporatedd, stiull busy but moving. That was made permanent last time I was down there and the principle should hold good for Cheltenham, if it worked for traffic find alternatives for pedestrians like the zebra mentioned earlier. The price of petrol wasted in queues should be one motivator and the council could get green points for reducing wasted emissions from stationery traffic.

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  • raggeh  |  March 21 2013, 3:29PM

    Matt, they'll do the North Place work and will most likely stick in 2 or 3 sets of lights ;) As for why they didn't extend the switch off, it was because apparently pedestrians were confused about how to cross the road after one of their 3 crossings in the area disappeared. I don't understand why a crossing can't still exist, or even better - a Zebra crossing... remember those??

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  • Matt1006  |  March 21 2013, 12:54PM

    The trial did seem to work, so really don't understand why there is any real debate needed now about extending the switch-off period. Except what we don't currently know is the possible effect on traffic in the area that the North Place development might have. Apparently the now-approved scheme could commence on site within a couple of months, so potentially there will be less traffic in the area once the existing car parks are closed. What then happens a year or two down the line once the development is completed and occupied is anybody's guess...

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  • raggeh  |  March 21 2013, 12:31PM

    The flow was greatly improved. With them back on, you're almost guaranteed to have to stop in a queue, or even worse stop at a red light when there's no other traffic around because the lights are all on dumb pre-programmed rotations instead of having traffic sensing logic like a few other sets of lights in Cheltenham.

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