Social distancing measures now in place in Staple Hill – but are they too late?

A four-week trial is under way in Staple Hill from today with changes to the High Street designed to enable people to shop in a safe environment and keep to social distancing guidelines. 

Traffic signals have been installed on the High Street and the road has been reduced to one lane of traffic across the junction with Page Road, which creates additional space for pedestrians and cyclists to use. 

Traffic has been separated from the pedestrian and cycling areas with barriers and a temporary crossing is in place. Parking bays on the north side of the High Street, a bus bay and the signal-controlled pedestrian crossing are suspended

Page Road is closed to through traffic between the free car parks and there is no direct access to the High Street for vehicles, see left. The council is signposting routes to free car parks on Page Road from the High Street.

Following feedback from residents and discussions with local councillors, the council has also closed Signal Road and Charnell Road to through traffic to prevent congestion on nearby roads and to improve access to the Bristol and Bath Railway Path for cyclists and pedestrians.

Local councillor Ian Boulton said he and his fellow ward members have argued that the plans may now be redundant as the social distancing requirements are about to reduce and traffic has increased compared to the last few months.

He said: “We are pleased that the council has agreed to remove some yellow lines on Page Road to mitigate the loss of parking on High Street.”

And he acknowledged that stopping Page Road being used as a rat-run is something that Staple Hill Primary School parents and staff have long called for. 

He urged people to give the council feedback – either positive or negative – about the trial. Comments can be submitted via https://www.sustrans.org.uk/space-to-move

SIgnal Road

Cllr Boulton also said that Staple Hill desperately needs a functioning traders’ association to provide a voice for local businesses. He said local councillors would be very keen to support it.

Concerns have been raised about the traffic changes and that not every affected had been consulted or even notified. The scores of comments on Facebook include: “Who in their right mind would bother going anywhere near this traffic nightmare when there are other high streets you can actually access.”

Another said: “If anything was designed to kill trade in Staple Hill they couldn’t have thought of anything more effective. Feel really sorry for local traders just reopening and then having this. Could be the final straw for some.”

Echoing that, another commented: “Senseless. Massively reduces the number of parking spaces on the High Street and the bus can’t stop!! This was needed weeks and weeks ago but it’s ridiculous now just when our local businesses are able to reopen and need customers! The High Street needs more parking, not less surely.”

There has also been support for the plans. One local person wrote on Facebook: “I think this is a fantastic idea. Have seen a few other similar schemes across the UK. I am really pleased we are helping social distancing, encouraging walking and cycling. Let’s all see if it works before deciding if it’s right or wrong. It’s not permanent but I hope for the health and wellbeing of us all it does work, helps business and makes the High Street a better and more prosperous destination.”