Press release 15th July 2021, from Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance
The government’s plan to make transport climate-friendly has been described by a Bradford transport campaign as “too little too slow”.
“The Transport Decarbonisation Plan will do nothing to reduce congestion nor provide health benefits as particulates emissions will not be reduced, indeed are likely to increase. It doesn’t address the need to reduce car traffic,” said Ludi Simpson from the Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance.
Published on Wednesday, the government plan aims to cut in half the transport carbon emissions from all transport by 2035. It says that local authorities will have to make carbon reductions a fundamental part of local transport planning.
Ludi Simpson said “The targets won’t save us from the disastrous consequences of further man-made global warming. They are less than demanded by the Climate Change Commission which the government itself set up to advise it.’
The campaign says that local government should be given more support to implement solutions to the climate emergency. It calls for major changes to the traffic scheme that plans to increase motor traffic on Canal and Valley Roads between Bradford and Shipley. It calls for support at www.bsta.org.uk.
Where do we want to be at the end of it? (a) To understand better how we can influence the road scheme. (b) To propose actions that are taken away to work on. (c) To make the most of the period up to early 2022, the expected time for the final formal consultation on the road’s business case.
What will we cover in the workshop? (a)Who are the players (residents, councillors, business, media etc etc)? How to shift players with most interest to have more power/influence, and shift players with most power/influence to have more interest? (b) Create a timetable of decision points. What is a good rhythm of education and campaigning to best influence the scheme? (c) What are the key things that we need to win, drawn from Chris’s experience of other road campaigns.
Please help us prepare for the meeting in these two ways:
After an appeal, BSTA has received the ‘Benefits Realisation Strategy & Monitoring and Evaluation Plan’ for the road scheme between Bradford and Shipley. West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) sent it with all reference to specific ‘improvements’ blacked out because its planning is “still in the course of completion”. We can hope that this means the options for the road are being revised and that when published they will take into account health and climate concerns. They should include full publication and discussion of the carbon audit that WYCA plans to conduct on the scheme later this year.
The objectives of the scheme stated in the document are first to increase road capacity but also “to support a more sustainable transport network and modal shift from private cars”. Sadly that ‘modal shift’ doesn’t get mentioned again and is not included as an outcome for monitoring. Only an increase in public transport and active travel (walking, cycling) are measured, not whether there is a shift away from cars. Nor is ‘model shift from private cars’ mentioned in the summary case for the scheme. Yet a minimum 21% shift away from car travel is necessary to achieve WYCA’s target of net zero carbon by 2038, a target that many say is not ambitious enough.
The Bradford-Shipley road scheme was conceived a decade ago to support new housing and employment in the Canal Road / Valley Road area. We do need people-centred jobs and housing, that don’t require more cars on the road. It means implementing the Council’s policies in favour of a shift to other forms of transport, and to reduce car traffic as part of avoiding climate catastrophe. It means providing car-share schemes and public transport along the valley and insisting on housing with low car density, not only in the valley but across the District.
I am writing this in response to Bradford Councils proposal to expand Canal Road into a four lane road.
Despite declaring a climate emergency in 2019, the Council seems incapable of acting in a way commensurate with the climate facts. 2020 was the hottest year since records began. Nineteen of the warmest years have occurred since 2000, with the exception of 1998. The year 2020 tied with 2016 for the warmest year on record since record-keeping began in 1880 (source: NASA/GISS).
We already have illegal levels of dirty air on the route of the A657 as it passes through Saltaire and air pollution at many other locations in the district. Every day tens of thousands of vehicles spew noxious fumes affecting the health of citizens and in particular schoolchildren whose schools are sited along our roads. 191 people every year die in the Bradford District because of toxic air.
How ironic when back in the 1850’s Titus Salt built Saltaire to escape Bradford’s pollution!
We need a fundamental shift in transport policies away from endless road building to a huge increase in the provision of affordable, and clean air friendly, public transport. Active travel needs to be encouraged and funded to tackle fumes, congestion, public health crises like obesity, asthma, diabetes and heart disease. Encouraging the positive benefits of quieter streets, clean air, more birdsong and nature; streets for people not cars.
A recent Dutch study (Cycling Embassy of Denmark) found that, in terms of socio-economic costs, cars cost 79 cents (with fuel, parking, road building, ill health) and cycling gains 72 cents (with health and climate benefits).
In terms of building infrastructure for the future for every 1Km of highway built you could provide 100Km of cycle ways. (Manuel Calvo, Seville bicycle way architect)
Cars are the least space-efficient way of moving people and goods around – a three-metre wide lane can move 700 to 1,100 people per hour in cars, whereas for bicycles and walking this increases from 2,000 to 6,500. There are also multiple city case studies, such as the construction of Cycle Superhighways in London, which show that changing car space to bicycle space does not adversely affect car travel times.
The truth is giving more road space to bicycles and pedestrians does not make traffic worse and quieter, safer streets can increase the footfall in the city centre, as most other cities have discovered.
During lockdown Gov figures show cycling increased by 380% and other means of traffic dropped 90%. Cycling turns out to be a cheap and fast solution to our city problems of toxic air and congestion.
It followed unprecedented levels of walking and cycling seen across the UK during the pandemic and an attempt to encourage people to make healthier travel choices and to choose alternatives to public transport as they started to return to work.
The £250m emergency active travel fund was the first stage of a £2bn investment promised to boost greener, active travel.
What did the transport secretary say? Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “With public transport’s capacity severely restricted at this time, our trains and buses could become overcrowded and our roads gridlocked – holding up emergency services, critical workers and vital supplies.
“We know cars will continue to remain vital for many, but as we look to the future we must build a better country with greener travel habits, cleaner air and healthier communities.”
I recognise that politicians only have a four year ‘lifespan’, they need to get re elected and don’t want to be perceived as unfairly demonising car owners. But if we make changes now we will save so much more than money in the long run. We will save lives and create a city that people want to live in.
If Bradford Council are serious about their Climate Emergency and their commitment to Clean Air and a decarbonised transport system in our district they must instigate a Citizens Assembly on Climate Change. Let the people learn about the issues, debate the solutions and give them a mandate to instigate the radical solutions necessary to benefit us all.
This post introduces the presentation by a very brief overview, and lists some limitations of the Clean Air Zone observed during the discussion.
Rosie described the impact of air pollution, now mainly from traffic emissions, on health. A quarter of Bradford’s childhood asthma has been attributed to poor air quality. Air quality is also implicated in cancer, stroke, children born with low birthweight and a whole host of other health outcomes. The poorest areas are the worst affected. The aim of the Council’s government-funded Clean Air Plan and Zone is to bring air quality within legal limits across the District. The Zone covers all Bradford within the ring road, and the valley up to and including Shipley. It is due to start early in 2022.
Born in Bradford’s role is to provide an independent evaluation of how air quality changes with the introduction of the Clean Air Zone. They will use not only their own work but also health data for all Bradford residents, air quality monitoring from Council sensors already in place and from pupils in 12 schools inside and outside the Clean Air Zone, who will wear sensors on their journey between home and school. A survey on the attitudes and behaviour of Bradford residents to air quality is already providing contextual information.
All those involved would be delighted if the Clean Air Plan and Zone improve air quality not only for Nitrogen Dioxide which is currently above legal limits in some areas, but also for other emissions and particulate matter. The evaluation will show whether this is the case, and its results will indicate best practice for other cities’ implementation of Clean Air Zones.
As Anna Watson, Shipley Town Councillor and facilitator of the event stressed, Bradford is privileged to have the scientific expertise and experience to allow this evaluation by the Bradford Institute for Health Research and Born in Bradford.
Some questions were raised about other developments such as the Bradford-Shipley road scheme’s increase in traffic, and the dangers that would remain even if air quality were within legal limits. These questions are summarised here, without reducing the positive contribution of the evaluation from Born in Bradford which had event participants’ fulsome support.
The Clean Air Zone is dictated by government funding which is limited to be the least stringent regulation that will bring the District’s pollution levels with UK legal limits on nitrogen dioxide. It is not aimed at bringing air quality to a considerably better level than the dirtiness which is inside the law. Policies aimed at climate survival or healthy clean air, need further actions.
The CAZ funding does not give car owners support to change their vehicles to cleaner engines, or to leave their car at home. Inequality of access to non-polluting transport is not addressed, because people on low incomes can less afford it. Funding to allow the poorest to have cleaner cars and use different modes of transport would be a major contribution to cleaner air that is not within this government clean air policy.
Monitoring the CAZ will monitor the overall impact of the CAZ and all other interventions that happen at the same time. It is not a tightly controlled experiment where nothing else is changing at the same time. These changes may include the disruption of building a new Bradford-Shipley traffic route, bus improvements, and other changes. To the extent that statistical modelling cannot disentangle the impact of different interventions, the relevance of the results for other places will be weakened.
Car dominance, and the entitlement it engenders in drivers, has a lot to answer for: contributing to climate change, polluting the air we breathe, making conversation in the street difficult and unpleasant, isolating the elderly and disabled, disturbing our sleep, contributing to roadside litter, and resulting directly in avoidable injury and deaths.
According to the Council’s own reports, cars are the biggest contributor to air pollution in Bradford, causing 1 in 20 early deaths in the region, and costing local NHS Trusts around £3million per year. Around 200 people are killed or seriously injured on Bradford’s roads every year. And still, millions of pounds are being spent adding capacity to the road network, while too little is done to provide the infrastructure and incentives for alternative modes of transport. This is why 40% of journeys under 2 miles are currently made by car. Now is the time to enable and encourage active travel: a simple lifestyle change that has such enormous health and social benefits.
Shipley & Saltaire Living Streets, in support of the excellent campaigning done by the Bradford Shipley Travel Alliance, Clean Air Bradford, and Friends of the Earth, are calling for an end to car-centric thinking in planning and transport (avoid), more joined-up cycling and walking routes (shift), and measures to prevent antisocial driving, parking and rat-running (improve). We need your help!Commit to leaving the car at home whenever possible, or get in touch to join our team. We especially need some help from parents of primary-aged children (to start a walking/cycling bus and play streets), young adults with a flair for social media (to run our accounts), and artistic folk (to do some tactical urbanism).
We have a choice, now, between a cleaner future for people, places and our planet, or continuing with activities which damage our health and environment. Walk with us.
In the first of our blogs from affilliates, Margot Rowan describes Veg on the Edge
We are a group of volunteers who work together in Saltaire transforming plots of under-used land into community food growing spaces. We meet regularly through the seasons planning, digging, composting, planting, watering, weeding. Once the vegetables, fruit and herbs are ready to eat, everyone is welcome to help themselves and enjoy the produce.
Our plots are well used by people living and working nearby who appreciate access to package-free, fresh, healthy ingredients grown locally in pleasant green surroundings. Just now we have herbs and salad ingredients ready to be picked, lots more in the days to come ….
Members of Veg on the Edge are concerned about the impact of traffic pollution on food production and soil quality near to busy roads. They also know that an appropriate green infrastructure can reduce public exposure to air pollution in the urban environment. They would like these issues to be part of the council’s agenda when planning.
Currently we have 5 growing spaces – The Sunday School Garden in Caroline Street, The Japanese Edible Garden on Exhibition Road, Platform One at Saltaire Railway Station, The Wash House Garden on Caroline Street and The Baker Beds at the far end of Caroline Street.
As well as cultivating our edible crops we are involved in many local events.
You may see us at Saltaire Festival in September.
New members of all ages are very welcome. Gardening expertise is not necessary.
Professor Rosie McEachan of the Bradford Institute for Health Research, will be speaking about Air quality, health and Born in Bradford’s plans to evaluate the Bradford Clean Air Plan. It will be a chance to ask questions and join discussion, and all are welcome. Rosie is an applied health researcher, and director of the Born in Bradford study which follows the lives of over 50,000 Bradford residents to explore why some families stay healthy and why others fall ill.
Please advertise widely and come to this discussion which will be supported by other clean air scientists, and the campaigning group Clean Air Bradford. Organised by the Bradford-Shipley Travel Alliance, concerned about health and climate impact of traffic schemes between Bradford and Shipley.
No-one has been willing to state the aims of this Bradford-Shipley road scheme. Our last newsletter pointed out the contradiction between its original justification – to increase traffic as a means of stimulating economic growth – and the current aims of West Yorkshire Combined Authority (WYCA) to reduce traffic to avert climate catastrophe. Each scheme document states a different set of aims.
As promised, we wrote to Bradford Council on 8th March to ask for the scheme’s Benefits Realisation Plan, which all WYCA schemes must have. This would lay out the scheme aims, and how they will be ensured.
Not receiving an acknowledgement or a reply during March, we approached the Councillor responsible for the scheme, Alex Ross-Shaw, who followed it up and assured us that a response would be forthcoming “in due course”.
As of 24th April, there still is no reply.
We also asked for the assumptions being made for scenarios of future traffic. The scenarios, or forecasts, will be core evidence to judge the scheme’s impact on our health. We would like to engage with the Council in a helpful collaborative manner to get the best scheme possible.
No answer to that one, either.
We will knock on the door again in every way we can think of, you can be sure.
There are many welcome promises to take climate change seriously, and to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030 in Leeds and many other Councils, or by 2038 in Bradford, West Yorkshire and many others, or by 2050 for the UK government.
But rare are the plans that work backwards from a target like those, to lay out just what needs to be done to reach it in the time available.
It explored three pathways, none of which would reach the net zero carbon target of 2038 entirely. Each would leave between 18% and 27% of further reductions that required “a combination of specific, ambitious measures and innovative new technologies as they become available”.
The minimum requirements of the least ambitious pathway include a 21% reduction in car miles travelled. The most ambitious pathway reckons on a 37% reduction in car miles travelled. Both also assume a hefty shift to electric-powered vehicles. All the pathways say that a shift from car to walking, cycling, bus and train is necessary. Necessary to avert what Bradford Council called ‘the enormous harm’ associated with global warming by 2 degrees centigrade, in its declaration of a climate emergency in 2019.
All the pathways demand retrofitting 700,000 houses with insulation, shifting to renewable energy sources, restoring peatland, planting 420 football pitches of trees, and reducing food waste by over one third.
The July 2020 report expected public consultation by December 2020, and WYCA urged further work on measuring carbon emissions. It is nearly a year later and there has not been further public information. But the work is ongoing and shows the scale of change necessary to avert human catastrophe in Bradford as elsewhere.
The CERPs report is essential guidance to all that is coming.