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Travel and transport

The Groves low traffic neighbourhood

Additional information

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Roads through the Groves area have been closed

In discussion about the regeneration of the Groves, the large volume of traffic travelling through the area was highlighted by local residents as a significant problem.

They told us they wanted better air quality, less and slower traffic and the chance to build on the existing sense of community - which is made difficult by lines of fast-moving traffic cutting through the area.

To help bring about these changes, following a number of consultations with local residents, it was agreed to create more closures in the area to reduce and slow traffic. These began in August 2020 with a consultation running alongside them.

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The length of the experiment

The scheme started in September 2020, was changed in November 2020 and the results were reported to Executive in January 2022. The timing for some of these steps was affected by the restrictions imposed by COVID-19 measures.

The designs proposed for the permanent closure points were approved In October 2022.

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'Access only' signs will not be used to remove through traffic

‘Access only’ restrictions can only be enforced by the police (outside London) and require considerable resources. This means that these restrictions are rarely effective without being supported by physical closures.

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Use of automatic number plate recognition (ANPR)

Enforcement by ANPR can’t be used to enforce ‘access only’ restrictions. Local authorities outside London can only use ANPR to enforce bus lane restrictions.

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Use of rising bollards for resident access

Automatic bollards would be prohibitively expensive to use. Our past experience also shows that rising bollards tend to require a lot of maintenance to make sure that they operate reliably.

Rising bollards can be effective for small areas where their use is low, and so would not be suitable for a large area such as the Groves.

We're installing removable bollards as part of the permanent closure points to facilitate emergency access and provide occasional access for large vehicles or in case of road works in the area.

The designs proposed for the permanent closure points were approved In October 2022 and can be read in Annex A.

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Work with the emergency services

Before the scheme was put in place, information was sent out to all the emergency services advising them of the proposed experiment. Understanding that it can take time for regular users to become familiar with new routes, we sent the information to them again in the early stages of the trial.

The Fire Service undertook a review of the area once the measures were in place. They noted 2 issues (one of them pre-existing due to existing parking arrangements in the Groves) that were addressed through small changes to parking and closure point position. They also highlighted the restricted carriageway width generally available in the area due to high levels of on-street parking.

We understand that emergency services didn’t use the Groves as a through route when attending emergencies elsewhere in the city. We will continue to discuss any issues with them.

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The effects of COVID-19 on traffic volume and travel patterns

It's difficult to make a reliable comparison. We do not know how long the reduced COVID-19 era traffic flows will be for, or if they will return to pre-COVID levels as people adjust to different ways of working.

A monitoring and evaluation plan was developed with some independent experts and the findings are available as part of the documents provided for the decision in January 2022, available to read in Annex A3. Read more about The Groves Low Traffic Neighbourhood Trial online through York Open Data.

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Air quality monitoring

There was no long term, reliable air quality survey data available for the Groves area before the experiment began. However it is reasonable to assume that a reduction in vehicles within the area will lead to an improvement in local air quality, although this is difficult to quantify.

The location of all diffusion tube monitors, along with annual mean results for 2015 to 2019, are shown on this interactive map. This shows monitoring data available around the Groves area, on Huntington Road, Monkgate, Lord Mayor’s Walk, Clarence Street and Haxby Road.

The latest published figures are for the 2019 calendar year. Annual mean data for 2020 is not yet available. Please note that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, any comparison of 2020 data (when this is published) with previous years should be undertaken with caution.

Monthly data for all diffusion tube monitoring locations is published in City of York Council's Annual Air Quality Status Reports (see Appendix B of the relevant report).

Diffusion tube reference numbers can be obtained from the interactive map and cross-referenced with the table in Appendix B to obtain monthly raw data for any location of interest in the city.

Read York's air quality pollution reports online.

The monitoring and evaluation plan considered air quality and a report was provided as part of the documents for the decision in January 2022. This is available to read online in the Background Paper The Groves AQ Technical Note.

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Traffic diversion and the impact on air quality

We reported that some drivers were using other main roads close by. Other drivers may be choosing to use different routes well away from the area, some will have change their destination choices and others might have changed mode of transport.

A monitoring and evaluation plan was developed with some independent experts and the findings are available as part of the documents provided for the decision in January 2022, see Annex A3. The data about The Groves Low Traffic Neighbourhood is available to read through York Open Data.

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The use of traffic lights to regulate traffic around the groves

All traffic signals in York are connected to the York Travel and Control Centre. There, they are actively managed using information from CCTV cameras, sensors and other sources which show how traffic is moving around the city. Timings on traffic signals can be adjusted and other tools can be used to respond to congestion and incidents.

Whilst the amount of traffic in the city makes it impossible to remove congestion completely, we can actively manage the road network and prioritise the road space in line with council priorities.

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Assessment of the impact of the experiment

Many traffic management experiments have a measurable benefit - increased vehicle capacity at a junction, for example.

With the Groves, the benefits we assessed were numerous. While some could be measured, others were more human and subjective which is why we worked with local residents and consulted on the trial. Any benefits will also be weighed in terms of how they are viewed and how they impact on the local environment and community.

We commissioned independent monitoring and evaluation work to assess the impacts of the trial. Traffic surveys form part of the data set which was considered for this work. The findings are available as part of the documents provided for the decision in January 2022. You can read more online in Annex A3. The data is also available online. See York Open Data.

See the agenda, decisions and minutes for the Executive, Thursday 13 January 2022, 5.30pm (item 82) and additional information about The Groves - Low Traffic Neighbourhood Trial online.

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Traffic Management Team

West Offices, Station Rise, York, YO1 6GA

Telephone: 01904 551550