Traffic survey shows it can’t get any worse

TAKEN at first glance, the news that on average nearly 11,000 vehicles an hour travel along Glategny Esplanade every day is shocking. As the official press release headlined it, popping to Town is a one in a million weekly journey.

The initiative, to capture data at key junctions, will be vital if or when planned regeneration of the Lower Pollet, South Esplanade and Mignot Plateau, and Mansell Street/Le Bordage finally go ahead.

More immediately, the research is also notable for what it hasn’t said – whether traffic flows into the centre of St Peter Port have increased or decreased since the last survey.

This is important given the significant sums taxpayers have pumped into improving the bus service. Are commuters taking advantage of a cheap, reliable service or are other users primarily benefitting from the subsidy?

The suspicion is that Guernsey hit ‘peak traffic’ some years ago – the point when everyone old enough to drive had a licence and access to a vehicle. The latest figures also indicate there are 85,251 cars, lorries, vans and motorcycles registered locally, but just 62,000 on the roads, a number which also includes hire cars.

In other words, road use cannot get any worse and attention should instead switch to improving traffic flows and easing congestion.

Providing real world alternatives to car use remain important but the recent Red Lion roundabout closure showed how damaging traffic disruption is. Every delay comes at a cost and affects productivity.

Without doubt, Guernsey has a traffic issue. But without seismic lifestyle changes – a return to lockdown anyone? – commercial, work, family and leisure journeys will continue because they have to. Buses and cargo bikes are not the answer for the majority and an electric bike costs more than a second-hand ‘banger’ for a teenager.

Unless or until autonomous vehicles become a reality, the island’s reliance on motorised transport remains absolute. We need to mitigate it where possible but the traffic research highlights the blunt truth – motor vehicles are what keep Guernsey moving.

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