Support the development of a transport master plan in Durham which aims to integrate all aspects of travel in Durham and reduce reliance on private car use

Durham County Council and all stakeholders in Durham County

Did you notice improved air quality, reduction in transport noise, intensely blue skies and birdsong during lockdown?   All these changes seem to reflect an improved environment.   As lockdown eases do you want to see these benefits maintained? Now that we have experienced the benefits how we can ensure we don’t return to the “old” ways of doing things and ignoring the environment?”

The Covid-19 lockdown has shown us that we can change our behaviours, and that massive reductions in carbon emissions by cutting back on car use can be achieved, which is what is needed to prevent worsening climate change.

We need to reclaim our streets to reverse the primacy of the motor car,

so that all forms of transport; walking, cycling, all forms of e-transport can safely use them in order to achieve safe social distancing, a pleasanter local and neighbourhood environment, safety for children to get to school, safety for less mobile people to get about, opening up town, village and suburb centres by reducing car traffic and thus enhancing local businesses and shops, and producing fewer emissions.

To: Durham County Council and all stakeholders in Durham County
From: [Your Name]

During its examination in public, numerous individuals and groups came together to challenge the inclusion of the Western and Northern Relief Roads in the County Durham Plan. At the foundation of this challenge was recognition of the need to plan for a future where car use is reduced and alternatives such as public transport, walking, cycling and all forms of e-transport are increased.
The abandonment of the relief roads is the first step as it signals that reactive planning for a possible growth in car numbers is no longer the Council’s approach, and that proactive planning to actively manage a decline in car use will take its place.
We need now to recognise that we are not helpless against prevailing forces of inexorable car growth, but can influence positive change by planning and action.

Let us all as residents, businesses and community leaders join together with Durham County Council to produce a TRANSPORT MASTER PLAN for the City of Durham and its surroundings that will:

1. Set targets for future flow levels of cars, walkers, cyclists, e-transport users and bus use such that the success of actions implemented to cause modal shift away from cars can be measured;

2. Synthesise the new reality created by Covid-19 and the likelihood that a large number of employees will now work from home and will no longer need to travel to work. In particular the need to take rapid advantage of immediate opportunities for reallocation of road space to widen pavements and to enable levels of cycling to rise rapidly (as numerous Councils have now done);

3. Set out how public mass transport will be facilitated across the City and its surrounds:
- showing an integrated map of proposed network improvements for all road users including cars, buses, walkers, cyclists and users of e-transport;
- considering network integration across separate private operators;
- setting out a target dates for construction of the new bus station and transition to electric buses;

4. Synthesise the need to accommodate projected growth of Durham University and the increased demand for footpath and cycling space this will create. (It is very clear the City pavements and footpaths are already inadequate and unable to cope with the sheer number of students walking on them);

5. Establish plans for ensuring new and existing households benefit from high speed broadband to ensure home working is an option and further reduces car use;

6. Set out improvements to the A167 and Sniperley park and ride roundabouts that will enable traffic through flow, whilst accommodating the spatial requirements of plans for future bus, cycleway and footpath expansion;

7. Map out a network of proposed cycleways and footpaths that will be constructed to create a viable and safe alternative to car driving. Routes within the future Durham cycle network:
- will be off roads where possible and provide fullest safe access within and around Durham;
- will benefit from a realistic proportion of the capital that would have been spent on the relief roads;
- will be considered as a transport network priority and not hold a subservient relationship to the car;
- will be individually viable (for example, many current Durham Cycle routes require people to dismount or route them anti-clockwise around roundabout islands - all of which cause the cyclists to simply abandon the route and cycle on the road instead);
- will enable transition from car use to active transport as the routes both provide an attractive alternative to driving, and also physically restrict driving making it a less convenient alternative;
- Include re-opening of the Belmont viaduct for cyclists and walkers;

8.Consider expansion of traffic-free zones in Durham City Centre for set hours in the day, traffic-free areas round schools and the establishment of low traffic (access-only) neighbourhoods.

9. - Review parking management and enforcement throughout the city to prevent parking on footways and verges and ensure appropriate use of parking spaces.
- Review parking permit policies, the numbers of permits issued and the balance between residential, pay-and-display parking and other uses of street space to create attractive, liveable streets which encourage sustainable travel and community cohesion.