A RECENT letter suggested that 20’s Plenty would be bad for Worthing’s traders and economy as it would reduce traffic – highlighting that Portsmouth’s 20’s Plenty scheme reduced traffic by 12 per cent.
The reality is traffic reduction would be good for the economy!
For a start, according to the Department for Transport, the deaths and injuries on Worthing’s roads result in £2.5million of lost economic output every year (due to lost working days).
Secondly, the fact that many Worthing residents are not able to get enough exercise as they don’t feel safe walking and cycling, results in a further £15million of lost economic output due to diseases related to physical inactivity.
Seventy per cent of the deaths and serious injuries on Worthing’s roads are pedestrians and cyclists.
All this costs Worthing tax payers £6.3million in medical and police costs.
Not only that, but in the next five years we are going to see rising fuel prices, potentially coupled with falling real incomes and more and more people turning to the internet and home deliveries for their shopping, rather than their local town centre.
In order to thrive economically, Worthing must maintain high footfall in its retail centre and be able to attract businesses to provide employment despite these pressures.
The best way to do that is to create the most attractive environment and best quality of life for people. Slowing traffic, pedestrianisation and pedestrian priority schemes have been demonstrated to be good for business.
The Dutch town of Groningen replaced a six-lane intersection in the city centre with greenery, pedestrianisation, cycle routes and bus lanes in 1977.
It now has the highest levels of bicycle use in the west, rents are some of the highest in the Netherlands and businesses which were initially against traffic restraint are demanding more of it.
A senior city planner there said: “This is not an environmental programme, it is an economic programme.
“We are boosting jobs and business. It has been proved that planning for the bicycle is cheaper than planning for the car.”
We need to create a vibrant street life in Worthing with cafés, street artists and greenery, not more traffic.
Our town will then become a more desirable place to live and visit, which in turn will mean local businesses will have an advantage in recruiting the best people and new businesses will be attracted to be based here.
In fact, it has been suggested that “to attract the smart business money, a city should restrict traffic and regulate ruthlessly”.