Stoke-on-Trent motorists reach average speed of less than 20mph in rush hour agony
MOTORISTS reach an average speed of less than 20mph and covered just one mile every three minutes on the city's congested main roads.
A national study of traffic flow on weekday mornings reveals drivers move far more slowly in Stoke-on-Trent than the 26.1mph average across the West Midlands.
But the Department for Transport data also indicates that congestion in the city is starting to improve.
And average rush-hour speeds of 19.5mph on Stoke-on-Trent's A-roads compare favourably with 18.8mph in Birmingham, 17.4mph in Wolverhampton, 16.6mph in Nottingham and just 15.8mph in Manchester.
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The figures do not include major routes like the A500 and A50, which are overseen by the Highways Agency.
It comes as Stoke-on-Trent City Council plans to invest £10.5 million over the next four years on a Government-backed scheme to cut congestion and create better public transport links between key sites like Keele University and Hanley.
Pete Price, the council's assistant director of technical services, believes more can be done to ease delays.
He said: "Congestion is affected by so many different things – fuel prices, the weather, economy, condition of the roads, roadworks, as well as the things we do to manage roads and traffic signals.
"There is a positive trend, which is good news, but in 12 months' time it could well be the other way around because there are just so many factors."
Figures show it takes 2.06 minutes to cover a mile on A-roads managed by both Cheshire East Council and Staffordshire County Council.
The average morning speed in the county, which has significantly more free-flowing rural roads, is 28.9mph.
Business owner Nigel Foster, aged 46, from Meir Park, said: "The roads are choc-a-bloc in the mornings but it's something you seem to get in every city.
"You can't solve the problem without having a truly desirable bus or tram system, which people actually want to use instead of taking their cars."
Electrician Simon Bradley, aged 49, from Sneyd Green, said: "I would say things have improved a little bit. But it only takes one set of roadworks and temporary lights to bring a road to a standstill. You really notice it when kids go back to school."
Driving instructor Diane Hall, who teaches pupils across Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle, said more needs to be done to keep the roads moving.
She added: "I would say that the roads seem a little bit better than they used to be in terms of congestion but I don't think there has been any major change."
The city council said it works to manage congestion by investing in road repair and traffic management schemes, including the linking of traffic lights to stagger volumes on the city's busiest commuter routes.
Recent improvements include adding an extra lane at Cobridge traffic lights to stop so many vehicles queuing along Waterloo Road from Hanley.