END OF THE ROAD ?
Managing Newbury's Traffic to Reduce
Congestion and Pollution without a
A Report by the Metropolitan Transport Research Unit, London,
Friends of the Earth and the Third Battle of Newbury.
Supported by WWF-UK.
Please note that this is FoE's short summary of the original 1995 MTRU report. It is not the complete report.
Aims of the Study
This study aims to identify the traffic
and transport problems in Newbury, and to
explore options for solving them.
The last few years have seen major changes in the
government's approach to transport policy-making,
locally and nationally. In particular:
The 'demand management approach' used in
this report addresses the basic need to travel,
and is now an essential and accepted
ingredient in the transport planning process.
Neither the 1988 Public Inquiry, nor the 1995
Highways Agency Review considered
demand management options for Newbury.
The local Highways Authority is committed to
such policies, but believes that much of
Newbury's traffic is not local. They await an
analysis to discover exactly where Newbury traffic comes
from and goes to. Such an analysis, based on
the Highways Agency's own data, is presented
in the study and could be used to form the basis
of a transport strategy for the town.
Government planning guidance on the
need to reduce car travel (PPG13)
came into force in 1994.
- In November 1994 the Royal
Commission on Environmental
Pollution produced a comprehensive
report on transport, with major
recommendations for change.
- In December 1994, the Government's
Standing Advisory Committee on
Trunk Road Assessment (SACTRA)
confirmed that new roads cause more
traffic, and that congestion slows down
 Demand management options are not the same as traffic management, which accepts demand
and seeks to re-route it, make it safer, slow it down or speed it up. Demand management addresses
the basic need to travel. For example:
Could some other way of travelling be used?
Could better land use planning help?
Could a business use a local supplier of goods or could people use neighbourhood shops?
This approach is now embodied in Government policy through PPG13.
Inquiry into the Newbury bypass consisted of a single objective,
which was "to provide a high standard route
between the Midlands and Winchester and the
South Coast". The road scheme was never
designed specifically to solve the traffic
problems of Newbury.
The relief of congestion to roads in Newbury
from the bypass is variable. Applying the 1989
National Road Traffic Forecasts
(NRTF) to the 1988 Inquiry figures, shows
that the A34 in the centre of Newbury will be
back at the 'intolerable' levels of today within
five to ten years of its opening.
In fact, the traffic levels on the A34 when the
bypass opens would be the same as those at
the time of the 1988 Inquiry. No reference to
this change is made in the Agency Review.
For the purposes of this study, we have
suggested that people would want, as far
as possible, a reduction in the quantity of
traffic on local roads in Newbury, improved
quality of the urban area with less noise and
pollution, and protection of the countryside
The data used for this report were obtained
from the Highways Agency. This is the same dataset
that was used for the review of the Newbury
bypass in 1995.
There have been significant changes to the
road network since the traffic survey was
completed, with possible effects on A34 traffic.
Since 1984, many major new routes
have opened, eg the western side
of the M25, the M3 extension and the M40
extension past Oxford to Birmingham which links to the A34.
The data confirm that at the time of
collection, (prior to the 1988 public
inquiry) most of the traffic in the Newbury /
Thatcham area starts there (60%) or ends there (59%). 38% both starts and ends within the area. If this analysis is extended to the immediately surrounding area, these figures rise to 78% and 67%.
Although the Highways Agency claims that
considerable through traffic is travelling along the A34 in
Newbury, most of this is actually short or medium
distance trips. According to the Highways
Agency figures, just 5 percent of the traffic in
Newbury is long-distance through traffic from
Scotland, the North, and the Midlands to the
A Package of Alternative Measures
A suite of 'demand management' measures
would reduce traffic levels in the town far
more effectively than a bypass. These
measures should be adopted in combination as the purpose
of a 'package' approach is that all
its elements are mutually supportive. A 'package' approach
could include, for example:
The removal of heavy freight from the A34 in
Newbury has a high priority in any strategy, to
relieve the town of traffic congestion. The current rail service from
Southampton, which serves the Midlands, the
North West and the North, gives potential to further use of rail freight.
Sophisticated, computerised junction
Pedestrian, cycle, high occupancy
vehicle and bus priority schemes
Speed limits, traffic calming and
Park and ride schemes
Special rail services for North-South,
Car-share schemes, telecommuting and
flexible working arrangements
School buses and 'safe routes' for
cycling and walking to school
Newbury is facing further, significant increases in
traffic, with or without the bypass. Many of
the policies and measures proposed here will
have to be implemented if future congestion is
to be avoided.
It is important to make the reduction of traffic
part of a positive process at the local level.
This involves public participation and education.
Two schemes illustrate this point:
'Headstart' and 'Travelwise'.
It is difficult to compare the costs of this
package of measures directly with a 'bypass'
(� 75 million), because the objectives are very
different. Targeting expenditure directly at the
major traffic flows, as these demand management
measures do, is likely to be far more cost effective. Estimates of the costs of these various measures are made in the report.
- There is a wide range of opportunities for
providing alternatives to traffic congestion in Newbury,
whilst maintaining accessibility and reducing
- None of these opportunities requires a
second bypass as an essential prerequisite.
- The effects of local measures will be
influential and cost effective, given the large proportion of
local and regional traffic contributing to the present congestion.
- Considering the large bypass expenditure, it would be judicious to implement a package of lower
cost measures and test how effective they
- Given the flexibility and low cost
of these measures, there is a
strong case for proceeding with many of
them, without further modelling, and switch the
resources to monitoring results instead.
- The pattern of long distance traffic may
have changed due to the opening of other major road
schemes. The bypass should not
proceed without a thorough review, including
new origins and destinations data and a
traffic suppression / generation test, in line
with Government Guidance.
- Final conclusions on the adequacy of the
Highways Agency Review cannot be made
because they refused to supply basic
information which should have been publically
available. The Agency failed completely to
update the origins and destinations data.
- Any proposals or revised proposals should
be based on clear objectives with widespread
participation of the public, local transport
providers and local business
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