Travel habits must change
As anyone who has sat in stationary traffic on the A500 will tell you, it's often no fun trying to get from A to B if you live or work in and around North Staffordshire. Statistics show that our unique road network has some of the 'slowest' routes in the UK. Thus today's announcement of a joint bid by Stoke-on-Trent City Council and Staffordshire County Council for funding to slash congestion and speed up journey times is welcome news. It is, of course, simply a plan at this stage and there is certainly no guarantee that the application to the Department of Transport will be successful. However, at long last we seem to have some joined-up thinking on one of the most important issues affecting the local economy. It stands to reason that Stoke-on-Trent cannot tackle its transport woes in isolation. But tackle them it must if businesses are to stand a chance in the current economic climate.
T he vision is right to concentrate on tailor-made bus routes to key places such as Stoke Station, the city centre and Keele University and to give buses and bicycles a priority. The problem with any such scheme is that planners are attempting to change people's long-established travel patterns. In doing so they will undoubtedly come across the selfish: 'Well, if more people uses buses and cycle to work that frees the roads up for my car' sort of attitude. By the same token, we should not expect thousands of people to suddenly switch to using bicycles – irrespective of the advantages in terms of journey times, saving on fuel costs and obvious health benefits. Thankfully, such bids for funding take time to bear fruit and that time can be best spent educating future generations of commuters about the benefits of public transport and cycling. Only then can we hope to achieve a sustainable transport network.