The following suggestions are being put forward by the Stratford-upon-Anon Society’s Traffic Group. They are based on ideas generated during the Traffic Group’s “listen and learn” conference on Managing Traffic in Historic Towns held on 10 October 2000 and the Oxford Study Tour held on 25 June 2001. Additional ideas emerged from the English Historic Towns Forum Stratford Town visit held on 10 May 2001 and attended by some members of the Traffic Group.
The suggestions have been divided into three separate sets of potential interventions. The first set aims to make the town’s historic core safer and more pleasant for pedestrians. The second set accepts that a vibrant town centre must also remain accessible and therefore seeks to improve access to the historic core. Third, since many of the above interventions will adversely affect road traffic, an additional set of interventions are put forward to relieve traffic congestion.
It is recommended that the proposed improvements be undertaken in the order presented, since significant benefits could be achieved at relatively low cost almost immediately and this would improve public acceptance of subsequent larger schemes which would require public consultation. The larger schemes would also have to be more tightly specified, options would need to be examined and recommendations subjected to public consultation. A consultant would clearly need to carry out the investigation which would lead to preparation of a traffic masterplan. This should be supplemented by preparation of a leaflet showing the overall concept together with a timetable for its implementation.
The public could be kept informed of each individual stage, together with its benefits, through local press releases and advertisements.
Making it Safer and More Pleasant for Pedestrians
Delivery Hours. Day time deliveries in central area streets (e.g., High Street, Bridge Street, Greenhill Street, Chapel Street, etc.) result in considerable pedestrian-vehicle conflict. The suggestion here is that Stratford should follow the lead set by other historic towns. We should introduce day-time restrictions on collections and deliveries made to premises located within the historic core. The boundary of the restricted zone would have to be defined and so would the restricted period. Both the boundary and restricted period would have to be the subject of consultations. The restricted period might be initially be set at 10.00 am to 04.30 pm, although both longer and shorter periods should be considered.
*Cost: low – small study to define the boundary of the restricted zone, plus time involved in consultation with traders, signage, information leaflets to haulage companies.
Proposed Implementation: within six months
Curbing Excessive Speeds. A number of residential areas in Stratford suffer from high levels of through traffic (e.g., rat running). Some of this traffic unfortunately travels through these streets at excessive speeds (i.e., often 30 mph, sometimes 40 mph+ and, during one recent evening in Old Town, at an estimated 60 mph). Such speeds are incompatible with the narrow street configuration, combined with high pedestrian flows. The pedestrians furthermore include numerous elderly persons and, in some places, persons with handicaps. The suggestion here is to undertake one or two demonstration projects to test whether lower speed limits combined with speed enforcement cameras, or suitably designed traffic calming, could succeed in slowing down traffic using vulnerable streets. It is worth noting that the English Historic Towns Forum has published some conference proceedings which provide guidance on “Traffic Signing & Calming in Historic Areas.” The demonstration projects could either be in Shottery, or Old Town, or both. If the projects are shown to be successful, the concept of curbing excessive speeds might then be extended to other parts of the town.
*Cost: medium – speed cameras, temporary calming devices, signage, evaluation
Proposed Implementation: to coincide with UTMC, if feasible.
Selected Street Closures. Selected street closures are relatively common in Stratford (e.g., for the Mop Fair, this year’s May 6 event, etc.). During these periods the town becomes a magnet for pedestrians and shoppers. It is therefore suggested that the closure of selected central area streets might be institutionalised. It could start with a few designated Sundays during the summer period and streets could be closed from 6.00 am to 6,00 pm, with exemptions for orange badge holders. The closures should be monitored – including a sample survey of resident’s attitudes towards the closures -- and, based on that, the closures could be cancelled, or extended to more days and/or more weekends during the year.
*Cost: low – consultation with police, signage, enforcement
Proposed Implementation: Spring 2002
- Hazardous Street Crossings. There are several streets where large numbers of pedestrians cross the road without protection (e.g., outside the Arden Street car park and opposite the fountain on Waterside). The nearest pedestrian crossings are too far away from the natural pedestrian routes and the pedestrians cross the road instead. This represents a major road safety hazard and it is suggested that selected pedestrian crossings be installed at such crossing points. The one opposite the Arden Street car park appears to be a high priority. Other sites should be identified as part of the traffic masterplan.
- *Cost: relatively low – labour and signage
- Proposed Implementation: immediate in Arden Street
- Coaches Travelling Through the Historic Core. Coaches travelling through the town centre cause considerable pedestrian vehicle conflict. There are at least three different types of traffic: (i) vehicles legitimately travelling through the town centre to pick up/drop off passengers at hotels; (ii) vehicles travelling through the town centre to pick up/drop off passengers outside tourist sites; and (iii) vehicles travelling through the town centre on a “moving” tour of the Shakespeare properties. The suggestion here is that traffic regulations be used to exclude some coach traffic from selected streets (e.g., Southern Lane, Old Town, Church Street, High Street, etc.) and to gradually extend the types of coach and streets covered by the exclusion orders. Special provision may need to be made for handicapped visitors. This general strategy has been used successfully in Oxford. The exclusion orders would furthermore need to be accompanied by definition of designated pick up/drop off points for hotels and visitors. These proposals should be firmed up as part of the traffic masterplan which should define: (i) which streets might be covered and in what order; (ii) which types of coach could be excluded and how; (iii) what alternative parking and pick up/drop off facilities would be required and where; and (iv) how the traffic regulations should be framed to exclude the targeted vehicles.
- *Cost: low – study, plus consultation with coach companies.
- Proposed Implementation: consultation process to start immediately with aim to implement the first restrictions in 2002
- Increasing Pedestrian Safety. There are several very narrow footpaths in the historic core which carry large volumes of pedestrian traffic. They are frequently so narrow that pedestrians have to step into the roadway to pass each other. This poses a serious road safety hazard and makes walking in the town centre unpleasant. Windsor Street is particularly hazardous. It carries large volumes of pedestrians and they are regularly forced to step into the road. The suggestion here is that selective widening of pavements should be considered to improve safety and amenity for pedestrians. Again, the traffic masterplan should identify: (i) the most dangerous/unpleasant pedestrian routes; (ii) the feasibility of widening the pavements along these routes; (iii) what complementary steps might be required to accommodate the widening (e.g., abolishing some on-street parking spaces); and (iv) the likely cost of such treatments.
- *Cost: medium – study, plus road works.
- Proposed Implementation: within two years – to coincide with extension of pedestrianisation.
- Coach Parking. The coach terminal in Windsor Street adds to the above problems of pedestrian safety. It generates high volumes of pedestrian traffic and this inevitably leads to significant pedestrian-vehicle conflict along Windsor Street. It is therefore suggested that the studies on public transport (see Public Transport Services below) should explore the feasibility of moving the Windsor Street coach terminal – together with all other coach parking -- to the Leisure Centre (or to the proposed P&R sites), combined with regular shuttle buses connecting with the Birthplace. This should be done as part of the traffic masterplan.
- *Cost: medium – study, plus consultation with the Shakespeare Centre, coach companies, some road works and investment in additional coach parking.
- Proposed Implementation: consultation process to start immediately with aim to start in 2002
- Pedestrianisation. The above interventions, together with parts of interventions II and III below, will make it possible to extend the pedestrianisation of selected streets in the historic core.
- *Cost: high – study, consultation and road works.
- Proposed Implementation: to be timed to dovetail with plans for the RST redevelopment and the impact of a ‘theatre village’ on town centre traffic flows.
- II. Improving Access to the Historic Core
- Park & Ride. There is an urgent need to get P&R operating in Stratford. Our view is that one car park is insufficient and that a second site should be identified and purchased as soon as possible. The car parks should furthermore offer 24-hr security, combined with a frequent shuttle bus service. Some initial financial support may be required, but the long-term objective should be for the service to be financially self supporting.
- *Cost: high – cost of acquiring a second P&R site.
- Proposed Implementation: urgent consideration to identify second P&R site with a view to having both sites operating within two years.
- Public Transport Services. The present network of public transport services in Stratford serves a very small part of the overall population. However, there are two factors which might make matters easier in the near future. First, once there are shuttle buses linking one (preferably two) P&R sites, it might be possible – at little extra cost – to extend these services to provide a wider link between P&R, outlying suburbs, peripheral car parks and the town centre. Second, if all coach parking was relocated to the leisure Centre and/ or the P&R sites, this would improve passenger base loads and make it more likely that “add-on” services to serve the general public would prove economic. Although the services (particularly P&R) might initially have to receive some financial support, the aim should be to operate the services with little or no subsidy. The feasibility of the above strategy should be thoroughly investigated as part of the traffic masterplan.
- *Cost: medium –study, possible need for initial subsidy, but financially viable in the long term.
- Proposed Implementation: planning to start immediately with aim to start new services alongside P&R.
- New and Improved Cycle Routes. Cycling is an effective alternative transport mode for a small, but significant part of the population. Existing facilities for cycling are nevertheless poor and disjointed. Marking and signing of cycle routes is unclear and there are few, if any, safe crossing points. To improve this situation, we believe that consideration should be given to provision of more cycle tracks and lanes, improved markings and signing, introduction of combined pedestrian and cycle crossings (as per the toucan crossings in Oxford) and more facilities for parking cycles. These proposals should be investigated as part of the traffic masterplan.
- *Cost: medium – study, consultation, signing, minor road works.
- Proposed implementation: planning to start immediately with aim to progressively introduce measures during the next 2 years.
- Car Parking. We question the government’s policy of reducing car parking in the centres of towns like Stratford to encourage usage of alternative forms of transport. Such a policy can only work in towns which already have a well developed network of safe, affordable and frequent bus services. That is not the case in Stratford (see Public Transport Services above). The only feasible alternative to the car for most residents of Stratford is walking, using a taxi, or cycling (cycling furthermore does not effectively meet the needs of mothers accompanied by small children, and the elderly and handicapped). People living on the outskirts of the town (e.g., Shottery, Bishopton, Bridge Town, etc.) cannot realistically be expected to walk to and from the town centre, or to make all their journeys on a bicycle. If they cannot use a car to go part of the way, they will use their car to go Leamington, Banbury, or Solihull. This impact of car restraint has been repeatedly demonstrated by studies of household travel behaviour dating back to the 1970s. Our view is that the town centre needs to make better use of its existing parking spaces AND to provide a more extensive network of public transport services connecting out-of-town parking to the town centre (see Public Transport Services above).
- To remain viable as a shopping and recreation centre, the town centre needs more short term parking spaces and these could be provided in two main ways. First, by increasing the turnover of existing parking spaces by adopting an escalating tariff (as has been successfully done in Oxford) and by extending this tariff to all on-street parking. The idea is to encourage short term usage of on-street parking spaces, medium term usage of off-street parking spaces, and long term usage of P&R. The revenues from any on-street parking charges should furthermore accrue to the District Council, or be deposited into a dedicated Stratford transport improvement fund. Second, off-street parking should be primarily provided in the form of multi-storey, peripheral car parks in locations like Arden Street, behind the Civic Hall, etc. As parking capacity is increased – by increasing turnover and providing additional off-street spaces -- on-street parking spaces should be reduced. All of this should be looked at in the context of the traffic masterplan.
- *Cost: modest -- part of an ongoing process with revenue implications.
- Proposed Implementation: recommended that the parking tariff be reviewed, that on-street parking charges be considered (provided the revenue accrues to the Town), that potential reductions in on-street parking be identified and that provision of off-street parking be reviewed and (perhaps) rationalised within 2 years.
- Residents’ Parking. The current resident’s scheme is only partly successful, because of weak enforcement. Our view is that the scheme should be redesigned as part of decriminalisation. We believe that consideration should be given to at least two types of residential parking zones: (i) those where non permit holders are permitted to park subject to certain restrictions (permits costing £10 p.a. as at present); and (ii) those where permit holders only are allowed to park (permits costing £50 p.a., or more). It is suggested that visitor permits also be available to bona fide residents and that they be paid for (e.g., a nominal fee of up to £1.00 per day might be appropriate). The new permit system would generate additional revenues and should be vigorously enforced. The two types of residential parking zones should be defined as part of the traffic masterplan.
- *Cost: low – study, consultation with residents, signage.
- Proposed Implementation: immediate alongside decriminalisation.
- III. Relieving Traffic Congestion
- Traffic Management. The UTMC demonstration project should help to alleviate traffic congestion by providing better information about availability of parking spaces and location of localised congestion. However, it is only expected to have a small impact on overall traffic conditions in Stratford. Additional traffic management measures will also be needed and these should be explored where ever possible, including zero tolerance of illegal parking.
- *Cost: high – signage, control centre, consultations and monitoring.
- Proposed Implementation: already under way.
- Relief Roads. The first two sets of interventions (I and II above) will inevitably lead to further road congestion and it is suggested that the need for an inner relief road, a bypass, or other road improvement schemes be re-examined on the basis of a “do nothing” scenario which includes all the interventions proposed under I and II. The scenario should also take account of the proposals for improving access to the new RSC development which are due to be published later this year.
- *Cost: high – transport study, public inquiry, road works.
- Proposed Implementation: transport study to start after P&R is operating.