We recently paid a quick visit to Bradford-on-Avon to look out for venues who may be willing to take a small bundle of our Grassroots Alternatives papers for their patrons. While wandering around the town, the one thing that struck us pretty much immediately was the amount of traffic travelling through on the A363. Bradford-on-Avon is a small country town of some antiquity with a medieval street plan. One that is NOT designed to cope with 21st century levels of traffic grinding through the place! As you can see from the image above, the volume of traffic coming through the town exacts a toll on the quality of life of the residents and takes the gloss off of a day out for visitors. It’s also not doing any favours for the drivers stuck in the congestion in the town.
Traffic has been a problem in Bradford-on-Avon for decades – arguably for as long as there has been mass ownership of vehicles. A problem that gets worse as vehicle ownership expands. One factor out of many for increased vehicle ownership is the parlous state of public transport in the region. The frequency of trains stopping at the town’s station is one an hour in each direction. More often than not, the train is a diesel multiple unit comprised of three coaches. Basically, a bus on rails with not enough capacity to cope with the demand. As for the bus service in the area, with congestion throwing bus timetables off schedule plus the seemingly constant threat of service cuts, using the buses is not exactly the most attractive of options.
There has been a consultation on how to deal with the traffic issue in Bradford-on-Avon: 2,700 people respond to Bradford on Avon transport consultation 18.01.22 with some local councillors dampening expectations on a solution coming any time soon: No ‘quick fix’ to Bradford on Avon’s traffic problems 30.03.22. Needless to say, residents are not happy with what they see as continuing foot dragging from Wiltshire Council.
A number of residents have taken it upon themselves to try and come up with a solution that is fair for everyone. Climate Friendly Bradford-on-Avon have an Active Travel Group who are working on the issue. This is their most recent post on the issue: Community Before Traffic. In that post, they link to these resources:
The Community Before Traffic flyer is here
The more detailed Fairer For All document is here
The Time to let Bradford Breathe poster is here
We’re not expecting everyone to agree with the suggestions outlined by the Active Travel Group but it’s a genuine attempt to deal with a long standing and serious issue in the town. As the name of our project suggests, we’re about encouraging community initiatives that bring power right down to the grassroots. That’s not just the practical projects such as food growing but also initiatives that do what they can within the constraints of a deeply flawed system to democratise decision making. The Active Travel Group may not be perfect – seriously, who is?! However, as they’re trying their level best to come up with a fair solution to the traffic problem in Bradford-on-Avon, it’s a project we’re happy to support.