I continue to be frustrated by our inability (or Suffolk County Council’s inability) to understand that making minor adjustments to traffic light timings or moving kerb lines on the approach to roundabouts does not make any noticeable difference to Ipswich’s traffic delays.
Generally what has happened, and is still happening, is that junctions are tweaked for the benefit of the motorist but at the expense of public transport and the occasional cyclist.
Take for example the junction of Civic Drive and Princes Street; when the roundabout was first taken out motorists complained that getting through the lights was taking too long. The timings were changed to allow for right turns, but this was at the expense of the buses trying to negotiate the junction from the length of Princes Street alongside Willis, and more importantly for those buses descending Museum Street.
At 5pm on a weekday afternoon, and again on Saturday morning there are so many stationary buses in Museum Street that others are diverted down Civic Drive. Half of the buses in Museum Street are bound for Dogs Head Street and the bus station rather than the Princes Street junction and are thus delayed unnecessarily..
Changes to the junction of Nacton Road and Maryon Road (outside the Golden Hind public house) have resulted in what is regarded by the cycling organisations as being particularly dangerous for two wheel users. The recommendation from Suffolk County Council (SCC) is to cycle on the pavement. The junction is heavily used by primary school children going to Ravenswood and by their older siblings going to the Ipswich Academy (Holywells).
Clearly SCC don’t learn, and by the time you read this the cycle lanes will have been taken out from Felixstowe Road (Sainsbury’s to St Augustine’s) and cyclists forced on to the pavement.
The traffic problems are the result of one single issue: too many cars making too many journeys and until we understand this – and do something about it – the situation will only get worse. What we should be doing is encouraging motorists, particularly those that are young, fit and able to use alternatives: public transport, pedal cycles or Shanks’s pony.
Before you leap to a conclusion that it can’t happen, it has – in Holland and Denmark. In Copenhagen near 60% of all journeys in the rush hour, for work or education, are by bicycle or public transport. In Ipswich cycling accounts for just 2% of the commute.
I recommend that the money which we are currently spending on road-works to speed the motorist could be spent on alternative infrastructure, cycle lanes, bus priority junctions and an integrated public transport network, not one with four bus stations, all some distance from the railway station.
SCC, in making excuses for the lack of investment in cycling provision, suggest that it is because in Ipswich people don’t cycle owing to the hills. For me, that argument doesn’t hold, but there is probably some truth in the statement so let’s start improving the infrastructure for cycling in the river valley.
There are one thousand-plus houses between Bramford Road and Norwich Road, between London Road and Handford Road and all along Wherstead Road. From every one of these houses it is an easy cycle into town, or it would be if there was a dedicated cycle lane.