Ipswich: There are EIGHT sets of traffic lights between Novotel junction and bottom of Bishop’s Hill - do we really need anymore?
- Credit: Lucy Taylor
Proposals to install yet more traffic lights on the entrances to Ipswich town centre have provoked an outcry from road users.
We took to the roads of the town centre to see some of the scores of traffic lights in action – stopping traffic in a bid to improve the flow of vehicles.
Traffic lights already control vehicles in much of the town centre – it is difficult to drive more than 200 metres without coming into contact with a set of lights and at present they all act independently of each other.
Heading east from the town centre along Star Lane towards Felixstowe Road there are eight sets of traffic lights between the Novotel junction and the bottom of Bishop’s Hill, a distance of two thirds of a mile.
If the Travel Ipswich engineers have their way there will be a ninth set at the top of Bishop’s Hill.
The number of traffic lights, and the proposal to introduce more, has irritated Ipswich MP Ben Gummer.
He said: “I think there are far too many traffic lights in the town centre – and I think they are being promoted by road engineers who are still looking at 1970s solutions for a 21st century problem.
“Why hasn’t the county looked at what has happened in other places with shared space. In Holland they did an experiment in one town with removing traffic lights and found that traffic slowed down naturally and interacted well with pedestrians and cyclists.
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“That was so successful it has been extended to roads in towns and cities across Holland. It has also been tried in parts of London.”
Mr Gummer said that had happened at Exhibition Road outside the Natural History Museum, Science Museum and Victoria Albert in Kensington.
“That is a much busier road than you find in Ipswich but the scheme works very well indeed.
“In Ipswich they’ve tried very tentatively to have schemes like this, but nothing on a major scale.”
Mr Gummer’s comments were rejected by fellow Conservative Graham Newman, cabinet member for transport at the county council.
He said: “The Travel Ipswich project has been granted money from the Government on the basis of a comprehensive business case and the project includes elements that can improve opportunities for people to walk, cycle or use public transport in the town.
“ The more people we can persuade to use these ways of getting to work, school, or the shops, the more likely we will be able to cope with the 15,000 new houses that are proposed for the Ipswich area in the coming 20 years.
“The only realistic alternative to this combined approach of providing alternatives to the car and getting the most out of our network is to build bigger roads through the town centre, which would require the demolition of hundreds of properties in architecturally sensitive areas.
“This would be neither affordable or politically acceptable.”
He added: “Traffic engineers have a sound understanding of the capacity of various types of road junction, and are able to model traffic light sequences .
“Urban Traffic Management and Control (UTMC) systems have been successfully implemented in other towns and cities in the UK.”