Bath needs to think out of the box on transport

Author
Ian Bell
Executive Director of Bath Chamber of Commerce and Initiative | Business West
7th November 2019

Back in the Middle Ages, when my copy of The Dandy comic was delivered on a Monday morning, by the year 2000 we were all supposed to be flying around in mini space ships, wearing silver foil suits. It didn’t turn out that way. Instead, we have congested urban centres with more people in cars that want to get into them than they can cope with. So let me pose a question.

Where do you stand on electric scooters? Not the four wheel vehicles that are so important to people with mobility issues, but the things that look like children’s two wheelers on steroids, with built in motors that let people move around at speeds much faster than walking.

Travel to almost every other country than ours and you’ll see people in business clothes, with laptop bags over their shoulders, scooting around city centres, getting around effectively without cluttering the place up with their cars. They cost about a thousand pounds, can be folded up and put in the corner of the office. Of course you wouldn’t want to go very far on them, but maybe they might be part of an answer.

Yes, I know that they are currently illegal in the UK apart from on private property, but maybe we need to look at the laws in order to come up with some different solutions to our transport problems. What is for sure is that we can’t continue to prevent cars from getting into cities without coming up with some workable alternatives and that will call for some imaginative thinking.

We’ve already got electric cars and bikes, but both are currently quite expensive and they are in danger of excluding people who would like to take them up as an option but can’t afford it.

There are other alternative ways of getting around. A few years ago Curo came up with a brilliant scheme to link their development at Mulberry Park with the City centre using a cable car. It fell foul of Bath’s automatic response to change, but it too could have been a part of a solution to our transport problems.

Many countries around the world are using cable cars in urban areas, producing over ground transport links that don’t get bogged down in traffic jams and are producing very low levels of carbon emissions. That would create challenges for a beautiful historic centre like Bath, but it might work in certain areas and could be part of the solution.

My plea is to open our minds to alternatives, to not rule things out immediately because they don’t look perfect at first glance and then to use the huge imaginative intelligence that exists in this place to find the piece of genius that can find a green solution to our transport conundrum.

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