Since traffic was diverted to Town Walls so that the shopping areas could comply with Covid-19 social distancing measures and give cafes and pubs additional seating, vast amounts of vehicles have been travelling through the narrow streets including buses, HGVs and emergency vehicles.
People living in the area say it’s dangerous and simply a matter of time before a serious accident happens. They have been doing traffic surveys from Bishopstone Manor.
Former councillor Andrew Bannerman said calculations showed an average of 574 vehicles an hour going past. An hour-long count on September 9 between 5pm and 6pm showed 665 vehicles on the route. In total, 15 hour-long surveys were conducted, recording 8,613 vehicles.
Andrew said: “The number of pedestrians varies considerably. The majority are students moving from one college site to the other. The students tend to be in a bunch, as they are moving from one lesson to another at fixed times.
“After 5pm the number drops, but between 12pm and 1pm on September 9, there were 174 pedestrians on this route alongside 542 vehicles. With much of the pavement space being narrow or non-existent, pedestrian safety is endangered and maintenance of social distance impossible.
“Photographs of dangerous situations have been sent to Shropshire Council to show the numerous occasions, pedestrian safety is endangered. Disabled people and those with buggies are especially at risk, since pavements become suddenly narrow or lack ramps. Buses frequently override pavements, because they cannot manoeuvre safely at junctions or around a stationary vehicle.
“At times of departure from school the pedestrian/vehicle conflict is highly dangerous. Emergency vehicles can become blocked by a van unloading. If a driver became ill, there could be fatal consequences, since an ambulance might not be able to get near the ill person’s vehicle.
“1,780 buses use this route per week right through the day. The situation in St John’s Hill is acute for various specific reasons. All along the Town Walls route many buses exceed the 20mph limit whenever the traffic allows. Houses (and the medieval Walls) vibrate and pollution soars. The Town Walls route is not appropriate for this type of bus and Arriva wishes to return to the traditional route to High Street.
“This is surely enough to convince you that this diversion is unsustainable. Residents were shocked and angry when they discovered the notice announcing the extension of the diversion until the end of November. There had been no warning, let alone consultation, that this was likely to happen. ”
He added: “This diversion has to stop. The current situation is dangerous, injurious to the health and safety of residents, workers, pedestrians and especially the schoolchildren and students.
“It is also damaging to the listed buildings and the Town Walls themselves. We welcome a more pedestrian-friendly town centre, but this can only be done by making the town centre Access Only during the period of pedestrianisation and enforcing this.”
A survey has been launched to gauge opinions on the current traffic situation in town, and Shropshire Council leader Peter Nutting said the council is “acutely aware” of the impact on Town Walls residents and that the authority has been in regular contact with them.