Saturday, 28 November 2020

Mayor: turn off traffic lights

THE Mayor of Henley has called for the town’s signals to be switched off temporarily to

THE Mayor of Henley has called for the town’s signals to be switched off temporarily to see if air quality improves.

Martin Akehurst, who chairs the town council’s traffic advisory committee, says studies carried out in Europe show traffic flows faster when it is unmanaged. A trial in Bristol in 2010 saw congestion fall by between 30 and 50 per cent in some areas.

The Mayor says Scoot does not tackle pollution because fumes are blown into Henley by the wind and he believes a ban on heavy goods vehicles would be more effective.

“I’d like to see the lights switched off for a month or two, just to see the effect of letting drivers use their common sense,” he said. “I think the system allows for a lot of pedestrians that aren’t actually there and that is causing unnecessary tailbacks. Scoot is very well run and I have an open mind about it but pollution is a serious problem. We should try switching it off just to see what happens. The main aim would be to get traffic clear of Henley as soon as possible, not be backed up outside it.”

Others do not support the idea of a trial without lights. Police say it would have a “serious detrimental effect” on road safety and environmental group Henley in Transition says it would merely “stall” traffic.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, a town and county councillor, says: “If you switched the lights off, things might run well at times. However, there would also be a lot of jams and that would affect air quality, which is why we installed Scoot and is a good reason to keep it going.

“There would be all sorts of problems and people would just be asking us to turn it back on again.”

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