Whilst I share the concerns raised by the bus companies and Cllr Alex Kemp about congestion in King’s Lynn, I don’t think a park-and-ride scheme is the answer, particularly not for the proposed site in the south of the town, which already has good public transport links.
Surely it would make more sense to increase the frequency and upgrade the town’s limited bus service as a whole (and make them more affordable), so that people can catch the bus from near their homes, rather than having to drive nearly all the way into town just to catch a bus for the last part of their journey. This would also be of far more benefit to non car owners, as would opening a railway station on the land between Nar Ouse Way and the Hardwick industrial area.
The heart of the problem is that there are just too many cars coming into the town centre. Cllr Long’s desire to ‘get the roads flowing properly’ is impossible to achieve without a significant reduction in the number of vehicles. Cllr Long’s comment that: “people prefer to take their cars close to the shops” may be true but providing that for everyone just isn’t achievable. If we want our town to thrive we need to recognise that cars don’t spend money – people do. Whilst I accept that Lynn, as a market town with a large rural hinterland, will always need to cater for cars, a traffic-choked, polluted town centre puts people off coming. Lynn’s main competitors, Norwich, Cambridge and Peterborough, are all much more difficult to drive into yet are thriving. Currently, around a third of people coming into Lynn do so by car – the rest walk, cycle or use public transport.
Several surveys of the town car parks over the years have shown that the majority of cars parked are registered to addresses within the town.
A significant number of those journeys should be made on foot or by bike.
So instead of expensive P&R schemes or building new roads (which just attract more cars) the borough and county councils need to invest in ‘Active Travel’ – otherwise known as walking and cycling.
A town-wide 20mph speed limit, re-programming pedestrian crossing lights to actually prioritise pedestrians and clearing cars off the footways will bring far greater benefits and could be implemented more quickly.
The days of catering for more and more cars and the pollution and ill-health they bring have passed. With growing awareness of the negative affects of both pollution and inactivity now is the time to get people out of their cars – and bring life back to the town centre.