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NEW MOVES ON RURAL TRAFFIC

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A new Countryside Commission report 'Rural Traffic: Getting it ...
A new Countryside Commission report 'Rural Traffic: Getting it

Right', published today, urges a fresh commitment locally and

nationally to traffic demand management. It also looks for more

research and funding to deliver real alternatives to the private car

and a determined focus on greater public involvement in finding

solutions.

The report draws on research to reduce car dependence undertaken by

the commission working closely with local authority partners in

England. The report underlines the importance of finding publicly

acceptable solutions to traffic growth in the countryside.

'The launch of the report, at today's conference in the Barbican in

London, aims to create a new public and professional awareness of the

need for action on rural traffic,' says the chairman of the

Countryside Commission Richard Simmonds.

The principal projects covered in the report are in Devon, Surrey and

Cumbria, but their findings have widespread application. The projects

demonstrate a new local and national approach to rural traffic demand

management. A major aim is to deliver real alternatives to car use,

while other measures are also essential, such as local speed

restrictions, better parking and greater public transport options.

In the Lake District a strategy for traffic calming was no easy task

to pursue. There were local concerns and controversies. But for the

first time a transport strategy now exists. It provides for traffic

schemes to be agreed and implemented, one by one, learning from each.

A 40 mph speed limit has been introduced on the well used seven-mile

length of B road running from Crook to Windermere and Bowness. Signs

are being altered to encourage more drivers to stay on the A road to

Windermere. A rat-run road at Ambleside has now been turned into an

'access only' road, freeing it for cyclists and walkers. Improved

security measures, including lockable cycle garages, have been

introduced for cyclists and suitable routes for cyclists have been

identified, boosting confidence in this form of travel. Meanwhile

better information has been provided so that visitors can make more

use of public transport.

In Surrey, which has one of the highest levels of car ownership in

the country, the pressures on the countryside have come in the form

of inter-urban movements and commuting. In partnership with the

county council, the commission established the Strategic Traffic

Action in Rural Areas initiative (STAR). Speed limits of 40 mph and

20 mph were introduced in some areas along with traffic gateways to

reduce the speed of motorists in certain parts of the county.

Junction improvements, designs to encourage through traffic to avoid

the village centre and improved car parking arrangements were

negotiated in the village of Shere. Eighty six miles of country roads

have been signed to produce an extensive cycleway for the county and

a bus for schoolchildren in Lingfield has cut the number of car

movements by parents taking children to or from school.

In Dartmoor, where open moorland roads have encouraged high speeds,

40 mph limits have been imposed. The measure is complemented by a

'Drive Moor Carefully' campaign to highlight the special and

sensitive nature of the moor. Signs are being kept to a minimum to

reduce the visual impact on the landscape. Painted roundels on the

road surface have been used where metal roadside signs would have

been out of place. Gateways at some entrances to the park act as a

signal to slow down. And, to prevent congestion and damage to minor

roads, voluntary and mandatory restrictions have been put in place

for large coaches. Use of public transport is being encouraged and

the old Okehampton mineral line has been re-opened for passenger use.

The report draws on these demonstration projects to propose actions

by Government, highway authorities and local communities. The

projects illustrate the real benefits to villages and the countryside

of highway authorities preparing individual local transport

strategies which follow clear environmental standards.

-- Copies of the Commission report 'Rural Traffic: Getting it

Right', CCP515, are available free of charge from the Countryside

Commission Postal Sales, PO Box 124, Walgrave, Northampton NN6 9TL,

(tel 01604 781848).

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