Sunday, 20 August 2017

‘Park and glide’ idea to tackle congestion

A “PARK and glide” service has been suggested to help ease congestion in Henley.

A “PARK and glide” service has been suggested to help ease congestion in Henley.

Shoppers would be able to catch a boat into the town centre rather than driving in.

The scheme would be the same as a traditional park and ride scheme but use the river and be operated under contract to a leisure or boat hire operator.

The idea was put forward by students from The Henley College after carrying out research for the Henley in Transition group, which is drawing up plans to tackle pollution and congestion.

The 60 A-level economics students interviewed residents and businesses last month to help produce a picture of the town’s transport problems and identify the causes.

The youngsters, who outlined their findings at two public meetings this week, were split into groups each of which investigated a different problem and its possible solutions.

One group recommended the park and glide scheme after concluding a park and ride scheme was not viable in a town of Henley’s size.

Another group recommended setting up a lift- sharing website for commuters who travel to the same destination at the same time.

Large employers such as Invesco Perpetual already run a car share scheme but the students said this would not be practical for small businesses.

A third group looked at the possible effects of a 20mph speed limit in the town centre and concluded it would have to be extended to a wider area to avoid unnecessary braking and accelerating, creating more pollution.

Henley in Transition says it is vital to ease congestion because the town’s air quality falls below national standards.

Duke Street has the highest levels of nitrogen dioxide, a gas which irritates the lungs, in South Oxfordshire.

Nine locations in the town centre have levels above the recommended safe level of 40 micrograms per cubic metre. The include Reading Road, St Andrew’s Road, Bell Street, Greys Road, Hart Street and New Street.

Dave McEwen, chairman of Henley in Transition, said he was pleased with the students’ work.

“It is quite something to have achieved this much from a standing start in February,” he said. “We have had a lot of support — if anything, we have had more offers of help than we could have coped with.”

The meetings were attended by Henley Mayor Stefan Gawrysiak, Councillor Laila Meachin, who chairs the town council’s traffic advisory committee, and Dr Karen Anderton, a research fellow at Oxford University’s transport studies unit, who lives in Grove Road.

Cllr Meachin said: “When we are discussing these issues at council meetings in future, they can no longer be shelved because they are not seen to be important enough. It shows the interest is there.”

Dr Anderton said: “It is really encouraging that people in Henley care about these issues, which are really important to the wider world as well as the town.

“We gave the students some guidelines for carrying out the research early on and they’ve really taken to it. I am very impressed with the results.”

Cllr Gawrysiak told the students: “I think we have got more benefit from your work than if we had spent £10,000 on a consultant.”

Mr McEwen said his group would discuss the findings, which would help shape a proposed transport strategy for Henley to be produced over the next two or three years.

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