... but village finds fewer cars mean higher speeds

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The Independent Online
THE BYPASS of Batheaston and Swainswick in Avon has been condemned because of a failure to introduce effective traffic-calming measures in Batheaston's town centre.

The pounds 75m stretch of road made the headlines before it was opened two years ago when Bel Mooney, the author and wife of Jonathan Dimbleby, joined the campaigners protesting against the development.

In 1994 she went on an eight-day fast to protest against the 2.6-mile bypass cutting through an Iron Age fort near the couple's home at Swainswick.

Supporters of the new road, which cost pounds 75m, say it has reduced traffic and pollution in the places it bypasses.

The Department of Transport claimed that it was "set to improve the lives of thousands of local people" and that there would be "far fewer lorries thundering past their doorsteps, a much better environment to live in and the chance to recapture some of the tranquillity that has been so sorely lacking in recent years".

It was hailed as a quicker route for motorists commuting to and from Bath.

However, many people in Batheaston continue to complain about the traffic in the High Street because the remaining motorists exploit the freedom to drive more quickly in the absence of successful traffic-calming measures.

Rebecca Wilcox, who has lived in the town for 25 years, said yesterday: "There has been some traffic calming but there is a terrible problem with speeding. We don't have so many lorries now but the cars which still drive through the town go much faster. It used to be one long traffic jam."

She added: "I think sleeping policemen might work better than the chicanes that have been introduced. They have increased the amount of parking allowed on the road to slow things down but it hasn't made a lot of difference."

People in nearby Bathampton say there has been an increase in traffic there, caused by motorists trying to avoid congestion caused by the bypass.

"In peak periods there can be a 45-minute wait for traffic trying to get on to the new western bypass roundabout," Ms Wilcox said.

But she added: "Just about everyone who lives on the Batheaston Road wanted the bypass. The situation was intolerable, with lorries going right past people's front doors. Before it was built two old ladies were killed and children were always getting knocked over."