We’ve launched an online public consultation on the future of the road layout in Queen Street, Exeter.
Temporary measures were introduced earlier this year to widen footways in order to provide more space for pedestrians, helping to support social distancing on this busy city centre street. The scheme was part of Devon’s Active Travel Fund initiatives in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The temporary changes made the section of Queen Street eastbound only for vehicles between Paul Street and Northernhay Street. To mitigate the impact of the measures on the St Davids Hill community, Iron Bridge was made one-way westbound from Paul Street to South of Dinham Road. Two-way access on Queen Street for pedestrians, buses, taxis and cycles has however been maintained throughout.
Since the changes have been made, there have been a number of positive impacts. Traffic volumes have reduced by 25 per cent on Queen Street and 35 per cent on the historic Iron Bridge. The number of people cycling on Queen Street and Iron Bridge has increased and pollution levels outside the RAMM on Queen Street have reduced.
The Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders committee decided at its recent meeting to consult on making the changes permanent.
The consultation will invite people to have their say on what should happen to the temporary changes and suggest any further alterations which could further improve the scheme.
Councillor Stuart Hughes, our Cabinet Member for Highway Management, said:
“I would encourage everyone to take this opportunity to give us their views on the altered layout and to let us know if they think any further improvements can be made. The changes have successfully reduced overcrowding on Queen Street, and the additional benefits of reduced traffic volumes and increased cycling levels on Queen Street and Iron Bridge are other welcome achievements of the scheme.”
Councillor Yvonne Atkinson, Chair of the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee, said:
“These measures were introduced for social distancing public health reasons during the pandemic. However, Councils like Devon are also looking at how we can enable more sustainable local journeys to help prevent global warming and air pollution. Transport is the biggest source of carbon emissions. The purpose of this scheme is to support improvements in cycling and walking and to make it safer on Exeter’s roads. We are supported in this by government funding and proposed changes to the Highway code. The consultation will help us get the best scheme to achieve these aims.”
Councillor Carol Whitton, our Councillor for St David’s and Haven Banks, said:
“The temporary road layout is welcome for its positive benefits in reducing city centre vehicle journeys, increasing cycle journeys, and improving city centre air quality. Nevertheless, the impact of the change on some residents in the St David’s Hill area has been considerable. It is therefore right and proper that Devon County Council consults all local residents and road users before moving forward on making the current arrangement permanent. I strongly encourage all local people to engage with the consultation process so that everyone’s opinions can be heard, and in particular to put forward any ideas or thoughts they might have for modifications that might in their view make the current arrangements work better.”
Responses will be reviewed to understand local opinion on the temporary measures and consider any suggested changes.
Findings from the public consultation will then be presented to members of the Highways and Traffic Order Committee (HATOC) where a decision on how to proceed will be made.