Once again Lynn town centre has been plunged into traffic chaos, this time by the roadworks at the North Street-John Kennedy Road junction, and there have again been calls for the implementation of a park-and-ride scheme.
While this sounds appealing, I am not sure the time has yet arrived when it would actually work. Certainly, past efforts to bus in people from the Hardwick area were only a limited success.
Also, while the problem at North Street-John Kennedy Road is causing hold-ups for people using the northern bypass, it is a temporary problem – even though the 10 weeks it is forecast to take is no laughing matter, especially for commuters. One reason for my scepticism about the success of park and ride follows the experience of Norwich city centre, which suffered gridlock on the Monday after Christmas week.
Even police cars were unable to move, trapped in the logjam of cars that had clogged the streets. One of the biggest complaints from many of the irate people trapped was that motorists were simply waiting in queues for car parks that were already full, rather than moving on and trying to park elsewhere – thereby ensuring that no-one else could move either.
Now Norwich has an extensive park-and-ride network providing what most people would consider is a convenient and regular service.
Unfortunately the great majority of motorists on that day appear to have been too idle to use the park and ride, preferring the potentially more comfortable option of walking the minimum distance from their cars to the shops, once they had found a parking place.
Now if you consider Lynn’s parking problems, while there may be hassle and delays in actually driving into the town centre, once you get there, you will usually manage to find a parking space – I don’t think I have ever had to turn round and go home after being unable to find a parking space in Lynn (although I am sure someone will write in and tell me that this has happened to them).
People will point to the success of the park and ride scheme in Cambridge, but there are factors for its popularity that do not apply here. You could, of course, close many of Lynn’s town centre car parks and provide new parking on the edge of town with the option of park and ride – but that would be a brave strategy that might backfire by killing off town centre trading altogether.
No doubt there are some who would then argue that this would open up more town centre land for housing – but let’s not go there! There are no easy answers to this problem – just gridlocked brains...