One letter writer in this week’s Courier claims that pedestrianising Tonbridge High Street would cause traffic chaos. Not so. A UK study which looked at more than 100 locations has established that reducing road space can actually lead to ‘traffic evaporation’. Traffic which previously used the road which is now closed is not found in nearby streets: it has ‘evaporated’ as people increasingly walk, cycle and use public transport for journeys which they would previously have made by car – or re-evaluate whether or not they really need to make this particular journey.
A summary of the report can be found here: http://www2.cege.ucl.ac.uk/cts/tsu/tpab9828.htm or read more in this report: http://ec.europa.eu/environment/pubs/pdf/streets_people.pdf
Another correspondent believes that market towns deteriorate when pedestrianised. This is contradicted by many studies. To quote one: ‘Although the evidence for the positive effects of pedestrianisation on trade has existed for over a decade, such schemes are often resisted by traders who are concerned that their levels of trade may be significantly affected.” See the report, ’The impact of pedestrianisation on Taunton Town Centre: a retail perspective’ at http://www.somerset.gov.uk/irj/go/km/docs/CouncilDocuments/SCC/Documents/Environment/Strategic%20Planning/TTPP/TTCRIAR%20.pdf