Travel in North Somerset: Mercury survey reveals communters’ main bugbears
PUBLISHED: 12:25 02 June 2017
A little more than 200,000 people live in North Somerset, with 76,000 of those calling Weston-super-Mare their home. Every day thousands of people leave their houses in the district to commute to Bristol, Taunton, or other places in and around North Somerset – but what do they think about their journey to work? We found out...
The Mercury carried out a survey to find out what people love, and hate, about their commute. A total of 186 people responded; 98 per cent of them live in North Somerset and 38 per cent of them work in Weston. A total of 26 per cent work in Bristol and 27 per cent work elsewhere in North Somerset, while the remainder either work from home or elsewhere in the country.
The majority of people drive to work, but more than half said they find themselves stuck in traffic every day.
Despite this, 60.2 per cent of people said they would not be willing to share their car to ease congestion and cut costs.
North Somerset Council has signed up to a new scheme to encourage people to car share, called JoinMyJourney.
Its spokesman said: “We have a special officer to businesses to sign up free of charge, where it would normally be £500.”
A little more than 58 per cent of people who completed the survey said journey time was the most important factor for them.
Driving is the most popular way people travel, but 68.6 per cent of drivers said they spent between five and 20 minutes stuck in traffic on every journey.
There is hope some of Weston’s traffic woes could be solved by a new motorway junction between Locking Parklands and Banwell.
The West of England Joint Spatial Plan – which looks at where homes can be built – has pinpointed an area between Banwell and Churchill for 5,400 possible homes.
If this goes ahead, money from developers could help to build a multi-million-pound bypass between the A370 at Banwell and the A38 at Churchill to act as a new junction for the M5, easing some of the pressure of the bottleneck at junction 21.
Walking and cycling
Cyclists appeared to be the happiest with their commuting times, saying they manage to dodge congestion while building up their fitness levels.
Few people cycle or walk to work but of the 16 who did, nine do not think the district is set up well for them.
Despite this, a council spokesman said the authority is ‘committed’ to providing ‘high-quality’ walking and cycling routes for all ages.
They highlighted a new pathway between Brean and Weston as one of its most-recent successes in providing cycle lanes for commuters.
They added: “The new link from large housing developments in Locking Parklands and Haywood Village to the centre of Weston also enables people to travel next to the road ‘traffic free’ by foot or bicycle.”
But when someone quizzed the council on Twitter about the poor offering for cyclists once they get to the town centre, they said despite ‘improved safety’ through road improvements in Alexandra Parade, town centre roads are still ‘not the best places for children’ to cycle.
The council said it tries to promote walking and cycling for environmental reasons, too, but a quarter of people who answered the survey said sustainability and the environment was ‘not very important’ at all when deciding how to get to work, with just nine per cent rating it as ‘very important’.
The cost of commuting
Cost was a priority for people when considering how to get to work, but particularly for those who use public transport.
Costs are rising for drivers in particular, with current fuel costs (which average £1.18 per litre of petrol or £1.21 for diesel) at a two-year high.
Despite it coming out as the cheapest option for commuters, 27 of the 43 people who use public transport daily said they do not find it good value for money.
One person said: “Train fares are going up, yet the service is not improving.”
People also said bus routes are constantly changing and timings are not accurate.
A council spokesman said it ‘works closely’ with bus operators to promote public transport, but fares are set by operators.
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