Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Lancaster city centre traffic changes to start soon

Vehicles displaying precinct permits parked in New Street at the second entrance to Lancaster Library.
Photo courtesy of Robert Wade

Traffic regulations are to be changed in Lancaster city centre to try to create a better and safer environment in the pedestrian zone for the benefit of people and trading.

The new regulations - introduced after a planned scheme was ditched earlier this year after concerns were raised by Blue Badge Holders - are being introduced by Lancashire County Council and aim to reduce traffic in the zone and strike a better balance between the need for vehicle access and the needs of pedestrians and cyclists.

They will come into force on Monday 1st December 2014 and mean:

• Goods vehicles are able to enter the zone for loading and unloading between midnight and 10am and from 5.00pm until midnight, but not during the busiest part of the day

• Cyclists are able to use Cheapside, the north section of Penny Street, Market Street and New Street in both directions between midnight and and from 5pm until midnight, but not during the busiest part of the day. This allows safer commuting for cyclists by providing alternatives to using the main roads when traffic is heaviest. There is no change to the existing arrangements for cyclists on Church Street and the southern pedestrianised section of Penny Street

• Blue Badge Holders can access part of the zone at all times via the junction of King Street and the upper stretch of Market Street or via upper Church Street, giving access to marked bays only on New Street Square, New Street and Church Street. However, Blue Badge Holders cannot access the rest of the zone i.e Market Square, the lower stretch of Market Street, Cheapside and Penny Street.

• The emergency services can access all parts of the zone at all times

• No other vehicular access is permitted unless Lancaster City Council grants a special dispensation

• The existing local permit systems including ‘Permit A’ are suspended

These changes to traffic management are being brought in using an Experimental Traffic Regulation Order (ETRO). The order will last for 18 months, during which the councils will monitor its effects and people and organisations will be able to give their views on how the changes are working.

The ‘experimental’ order means that the county council can, if necessary, make revisions to the way the order works during the first six months of the 18-month period.

To support the changes the city council has increased the number of disabled parking spaces in its city centre car parks.

County Councillor John Fillis, Lancashire County Council Cabinet member for highways and transport, said: "We want to improve the way traffic is managed to achieve a better environment and get the most out of this space which is vital to the daily functioning and economy of the city. Crucially we hope it will also make the city centre safer for pedestrians and cyclists.

"The experimental order will allow us to monitor how the changes to traffic management work in practice and make adjustments if necessary to improve the way they work.

"We'll work closely with the city council, businesses and local people throughout to achieve the best result for Lancaster."

Councillor Janice Hanson: new ETRO "striking a
good balance between the needs for
vehicle access and the interests of
pedestrians and cyclists."
"Lancaster’s pedestrian zone is at the heart of the city," says Councillor Janice Hanson, Lancaster City Council Cabinet member with responsibility for economic regeneration and planning, "and the setting for much city centre trading, commercial activity and host to many of the city’s cultural offerings.

"The ETRO is to see whether traffic can be better managed to create a more pleasant and safer environment for pedestrians and to the benefit of all who live, work and do business in this centre.

"It is all about striking a good balance between the needs for vehicle access and the interests of pedestrians and cyclists."

The introduction of the ETRO has been welcomed by both the Lancaster Chamber of Commerce and the Lancaster Business Improvement District.

The new regulations will be enforced from the start while Lancashire County Council carries out work to change signs and road markings.

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