Sunday, 30 September 2012

Maidstone Integrated Transport Strategy

Maidstone Integrated Transport Strategy (ITS)

Maidstone Green Party Submission September 2012

General comments
The strategy should not be one of predict traffic and provide road space, it should be one of ensuring that people travel through town in the safest and least polluting way. The current draft strategy reads as a ‘manifesto for more cars’ with just 3% of the investment going on cycling and walking and 75% being spent on increasing the volume of traffic; these percentages are the wrong way round.

 The need to build on greenfield sites on the outskirts of town is highly questionable when there are in-town sites that can take high density housing. This would significantly reduce the need for long journeys in and out of the centre and alternative transport modalities would be far easier, cheaper and acceptable.

Similarly, the need for motorway junction improvements is predicated on further out of town shopping and industry. The town centre needs to be the focus for retail and industrial areas should be contained within the existing footprint of the town. These steps would negate the need for expensive and polluting changes to junctions 7 and 8.

Nowhere is it noted that an estimated 100 people each year die from traffic generated pollution, mostly diesel particulates. This is a public health scandal that dwarfs the CDiff outbreak 6 years ago at our local hospital trust. Actions within the draft strategy will increase the death toll from poor air quality.

Where the strategy should take Maidstone

  • 20mph in all residential streets, a maximum 50mph speed limit in non-urban areas and lobby for a 55mph speed limit on motorways
  • Significant investment in cycling, walking and public transport, i.e £40m
  • Cycle lanes that are designed to take cyclists on safe direct routes through the town and that reach to all areas and along all arterial routes
  • A riverside cycle lane to act as a further spine route for cyclists
  • Pavements that are in a high state of repair and drop kerbs to allow wheelchair users to cross at every junction
  • 5 minute buses on arterial roads that link with park and ride schemes
  • Single bridge for crossing the Medway for cars (east bridge), second bridge for pedestrians, cyclists and buses (west bridge)
  • Widening of High Level Bridge to include a cycle lane, good lighting and lines of sight
  • No St Andrews Rd gyratory
  • Air quality improvements plus monitoring of deaths Increase in car occupancy from 1.23 to 2.1 people by 2026 (nat av = 1.6)
  • Parking charges and resident permit charges to be hypothecated to non-car transport improvements
  • No further out of town expansions (shopping, housing or industrial)
  • No Leeds Langley Bypass Work with KCC to prevent ‘rat run’ traffic in rural and residential areas
  • Rapid progress to becoming a ‘car free’ town
  • Work with public transport providers on “smart tickets” allowing changes in journey between transport types
  • Work with public transport providers to provide high quality bus / rail interchange at Maidstone East
  • Work with bus and train companies to increase services especially in rural areas
  • Work with bus companies to secure zero emission buses in the borough
  • Ensure that cycle storage is available at railway stations
  • Promote home working through technology such as broadband
  • Promote community shops and markets
  • Work with KCC to end selection into distant schools and ensure that secondary education is inclusive and at the heart of communities, thus reducing the need for school runs and child commuters.
  •  Encourage community owned vehicle schemes

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