One of the key ways of making traffic movement more effective (i.e. smoother and therefore swifter) is to remove obstructions, and this mainly means other motorists and pedestrians. Local authorities are being pushed into introducing enforcement strategies (fines) for existing regulations, and for infringement of Highway Code guidance. Examples include parking in bus lanes, blocking yellow box junctions, jumping amber traffic lights and waiting (parking) on yellow lines in busy streets. There is consideration of a count-down for pedestrians at pelican and toucan crossings with fines for j ay- walking (common in Northern Europe), the removal of traffic lights from some road junctions allowing a free-for-all. It works if traffic proceeds at walking pace and eye contact is made between drivers - in much the same way as you avoid other shoppers when you push your trolley around a supermarket.
Other innovative traffic management techniques aimed at reducing traffic disruption include issuing permits for minor road works, lane rental charges for works on major roads and over-running charges for schemes that continue beyond their predicted timescale.
However the biggest single factor in traffic delays is motorists themselves and it is these inconsiderate vehicle drivers that the Government is pressing local authorities to control. Examples include parking on yellow lines in the rush hour, either because the car hasn't been removed from its overnight parking spot before 8 am or because the driver is only stopping for a second or two (typically in London to drop the children at school) and blocking junctions to ensure nobody pushes in (more frequently the vehicle entering from the side road wants to cross the line of stationary traffic rather than push in).
It is likely local authorities will engage additional traffic wardens or extend the role of the existing parking enforcement officers to meet the Government directive. In Ipswich the Â£25 million Local Transport Plan focuses on walking, cycling and public transport but includes linking traffic lights to smooth vehicle flow and reduce stop-start motoring.
Whether the new Government will continue with these proposals remains to be seen.
A view we might never see?
"Ipswich fit for the 21st century" was the multi- faceted scheme put forward by SCC with support from IBC. One aspect of it was these proposed changes for Princes Street/Civic Drive, removing the roundabout and installing traffic lights with priority for pedestrians (providing a better walking route from the station to the town centre) and pedal cycles. This is one of many schemes being held back pending the Government's spending review.