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Expert says abandon car for bike, bus or legs to save Canterbury

By Canterbury Times  |  Posted: November 19, 2012

  • Traffic in Canterbury by the Westgate Towers

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GET on your bike – that is the solution to Canterbury's traffic problems, according to one of the country's leading transport experts.

Dr Lynn Sloman, who is director of Transport for Quality of Life, said the city's medieval road layout is at odds with 21st century levels of traffic.

She suggested promoting cycling, walking and bus use as an alternative to driving could have a big impact on the city's gridlocked streets.

Dr Sloman was speaking at the Dominican Priory on Thursday (Nov 8), when she presented her blueprint for sustainable transport in Canterbury.

The independent study was the result of months of work for the former Simon Langton Girls' Grammar School pupil who was commissioned by The Canterbury Society.

More than 100 residents, traders and councillors packed into the priory to hear her findings before the final document is published.

She said there were "fantastic opportunities" for Canterbury to cut its traffic levels in the same way as other cities like York, Cambridge and Brighton.

She said: "As a compact city, Canterbury doesn't have the space to become a Los Angeles-style car-centric city.

"Canterbury was not built around the car so it is not possible to accommodate unfettered car use in the city's streets."

Her priorities included cycling, walking, car-sharing and using buses to tackle traffic congestion and air pollution from engines.

She urged the city to continue building on its success. The number of bus journeys has almost tripled since 2000.

But some were quick to pick holes in her vision.

One resident described her ideas as "airy fairy" and not radical enough to address the serious traffic problem.

And Timothy Less asked why she was "wielding the carrot instead of the stick." He asked whether more drastic measures, such as congestion charges, could be viable.

But she said her report was about finding solutions that the majority of people would support and insisted several small changes could make a big difference.

She also called on traders and residents to give the city council's controversial Westgate Towers traffic trial a chance to run its 12-month course so enough data could be collected and analysed.

She said previous studies had shown that when traffic was re-routed, the number of cars reduced because motorists chose alternative methods of transport.

She said Canterbury was the perfect cycling city because it was mostly flat and had good cycle routes for short trips.

But Wincheap city councillor Nick Eden-Green said more cyclists are killed or seriously injured on Canterbury's roads than anywhere else in the county.

Dr Sloman urged city planners to design sustainable travel facilities for all new houses, shops and businesses.

She called for joined-up thinking between the council and other organisations including the Canterbury Society, the universities and the bus companies to put her ideas into practice.

Canterbury Society committee member Geoff Meaden, a member of the Green Party, said: "We have been waiting 40 years for this report on sustainable traffic. We are all fed up with the traffic in Canterbury. As it grows, it slows. We have to do something about it. It's a medieval city but it's growing all the time."

Do Lynn Sloman's ideas go far enough? What would solve Canterbury's traffic problems? E-mail your views to newsdesk.times@KRNmedia.co.uk or write to the address on page 2.

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