Following recent traffic issues in the Lake District, a conservation group has urged a 'radical rethink' on transport in the National Park. Friends of the Lake District would like to see a study carried out into the feasibility of measures including seasonal road closures, park and ride, permit schemes, shuttlebuses, a road charge for visitors, better public transport scheduling, fare reductions and the promotion of active travel choices such as electric bikes.
Traffic queued for miles through the Lake District during the Whitsun bank holiday, say the group, with badly parked vehicles across the verges at Bowness, Elterwater, Wasdale and Derwentwater. Some bus services couldn't pass parked cars, and emergency service vehicles reportedly found it hard to attend incidents in Wasdale and on Wastwater because of problem parking on the single track roads.
Emergency services are dealing with an incident at Wastwater Lake, however our vehicles are struggling to get to the location due to abandoned vehicles and inconsiderate parking. Be mindful when parking vehicles to ensure there is space for emergency services vehicles and others— Cumbria Police (@Cumbriapolice) June 2, 2021
According to Friends of the Lake District, scenes like this suggest that a 'tipping point' has been reached, and authorities can either embrace a radical rethink on transport within the National Park, or risk undemining its tranquility and environment.
The landscape charity has now called on the Lake District National Park Authority and Cumbria County Council to urgently undertake a transport feasibility study to look at all possible options for reducing the numbers of private vehicles on the roads, whilst ensuring that everyone is still able to access the National Park via improved public transport, active travel and other more sustainable services.
Friends of the Lake District point out that other busy tourist destinations have introduced all sorts of measures to tackle heavy traffic, and would like the study to look at what has been successful elsewhere in the world, and what benefits could be delivered for visitors, residents, businesses and the environment.
Kate Willshaw, Policy Officer at Friends of the Lake District said:
"We want as many people as possible to experience the sense of 'escape' that the Lake District has to offer but traffic chaos is off-putting for visitors and damaging for residents and businesses within the National Park. An informed discussion on transport for the future is long overdue.
"Traffic volume also has huge implications for carbon emissions. The Lake District National Park Partnership and Cumbria County Council have both committed to achieving net zero carbon emissions by 2037 and this cannot be achieved unless transport is addressed now. Transport accounts for nearly half of the Lake District's total emissions."
Friends of the Lake District is urging those who share its concern about transport issues in the Lake District to contribute to the ongoing National Park Partnership Plan Consultation and join them in requesting that a feasibility study into transport solutions is undertaken as soon as possible.