Traffic-free days on St Helier roads, dedicated bus lanes and more cycle routes on the way

TRAFFIC-free days on key St Helier roads, promoting electric scooters and creating dedicated bus lanes are part of a major policy to dramatically cut vehicle use.

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Cycle proficiency lessons for school children, extending free bus travel to include carers, and ‘accelerated work’ on the Eastern Cycle Route are also due to be introduced over the next 12 months, according to the latest Sustainable Transport Policy.

There are also major moves to cut the number of schoolchildren being taken to Victoria College, Beaulieu, De La Salle, Jersey College for Girls and other surrounding schools by car.

Infrastructure Minister Kevin Lewis said the Island’s ‘entire transport system must be re-designed’ and continuing as we are is ‘unsustainable’ and not an option.

The minister said: ‘We need to recognise that our car-dominated transport system is no longer sustainable, and not in the best interests of the Island’s future. We have ever more cars on our Island, year by year. The average size of cars is increasing. And over a period when carbon emissions from energy generation, heating and other sources have fallen, emissions from transport have increased.

‘Sustainable transport can no longer be a fringe concern – our entire transport system must be re-designed following the principles of sustainable wellbeing. This policy framework starts us on that road. For the first time, government is making clear that fewer vehicle journeys will be a good thing for Jersey.’

To assemble the report, civil servants analysed schemes in seven locations including Hong Kong, Reykjavík, Gothenburg, Delft in Holland, Nottingham, Ponterverde in Spain and Waltham Forest.

The report is split into two sections – the first on policies and provisions that can be made over the next decade and the second is the ‘Strong Start Delivery Plan 2020’, which sets out initiatives for the next year.

They include:

  • Schools – £470,000 investment in initiatives such as a pilot shuttle bus from the west of town to schools in St Saviour as well as a ‘walking bus’ from Liberation Station and cycle proficiency training for children in Years 1, 4 and 6 (starting as a pilot with schools in the west).

  • Cycling – introducing a dedicated cycling-development officer, reviewing the eBike grants scheme and potentially repeating it, improving cycle routes to the new Les Quennevais School from the whole catchment area, creating more covered cycle parking at five locations in St Helier and at bus stops in five rural parishes. Work will also be ‘accelerated’ on the Eastern Cycle Route.

  • Walking – establish ‘traffic-free’ events and days in St Helier, trial ‘changes to on-street parking in order to understand the impacts on the local community’ and road improvements on Midvale Road – between Rouge Bouillon and David Place – such as widening pavements and improving cycle access.

  • Workplace travel – introduce workshops for small businesses on issues such as ‘fuel-efficient driver training’ and buying electric vehicles.

  • Buses – extend Avanchi card scheme to provide free bus travel for carers of people unable to drive or who need assistance, improve access for disabled people at five bus stops and install seven more shelters and pilot a bus lane to speed up journeys around the Esplanade and the Tunnel.

Deputy Lewis said the plans were ‘ambitious’. The States Assembly will be asked to vote on them next year.

According to the report, 400,000 hours a year are lost sat in peak-time traffic and 32% of on-Island emissions come from road traffic. On New Year’s Eve, the Island’s Carbon Neutral Strategy was released which outlined first-stage plans to achieve net-zero carbon emissions. In the early part of next year, the Assembly will be asked to vote on the introduction of a new Citizen’s Assembly to help develop policies to reach neutrality as well as four ‘principles’. If agreed, solid policies are due to be announced later in the year.

Speaking about transport, the minister added: ‘Our dependence on the internal combustion engine is coming to a natural end. The wellbeing of our Island and of future generations requires us to redesign our transport system and update our expectations about how we travel.’

Deputy Lewis said he recognised some journeys would still require cars and they would support the transition to electric vehicles with more ‘free parking and charging points’.

He added: ‘We will support the Island’s first use of innovative second-generation bio-fuels to cut emissions from our buses and government fleet. We will provide targeted support to small businesses to reduce their travel impacts and to plan for the transition to a sustainable transport future.’

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