Carlise city centre traffic system - good or bad?
17th August 2010
... Comments

I noticed a piece in the Cumberland News recently about a new layout in the streets of Carlisle.

Pamela McGowan reported:

Angry motorists have hit out at changes to Carlisle’s city centre traffic system and believe an accident is waiting to happen.

The new filter lane on Lowther Street, which gives priority to cars coming from the multi-story car park over those heading towards it, is a particular concern. Confused motorists trying to turn into Victoria Place say it is not clear when they should give way, and shopkeepers have reported numerous near misses.

While taking pictures of the traffic chaos, a News & Star photographer witnessed a youngster being knocked off his bike on the Victoria Place junction outside the Age UK charity shop. He escaped uninjured.

The lane changes at the Lonsdale Street junction have also been criticised, with traffic in the right-hand lane no longer able to drive straight on. A bollard is instead forcing motorists to turn right towards the bus station – and many are then changing lanes at the last minute, catching other drivers by surprise.

Drivers in the city centre yesterday expressed their views on the new layout. Not all are against the new system, with many believing it will improve traffic flow once motorists get used to it. But there have been questions as to why it was introduced during the summer holidays when many families are descending on Carlisle’s shops and attractions.

However, a Cumbria Highways spokesman defended the new system, saying it will improve traffic flow and reduce congestion, and urged motorists to give it a chance. He said: “We appreciate there are likely to be some teething problems while motorists familiarise themselves with the new arrangements and apologise if people do find themselves inconvenienced while the system beds in. The changes however, which have only been approved following extensive survey work and consultation, will ultimately improve traffic flow.”

“While city centre traffic can be busy during the summer holidays, the advantage of introducing changes at this time of year is that traffic flows are more evenly spread out through the day and the same heavy volume of traffic that occurs at peak times during term time is avoided.”

The new layout was introduced a week later than scheduled after being approved by the county council’s local committee for Carlisle earlier this year.

Lane, signage and signal changes have been introduced in Lowther Street, Spencer Street, Warwick Road and Victoria Place to improve traffic flow in the city centre.

What was previously a bus lane on Warwick Road, between Spencer Street and Hartington Place, has now been opened to two-way traffic. It means light vehicles, under 7.5 tonnes, heading south and east are now signposted from Lowther Street along Lonsdale Street, Spencer Street and onto Warwick Road. Larger vehicles must still use the previous route via Victoria Place.

Initial police reports said that there had been no reported problems, but some traders on Lowther Street claim it is only a matter of time before there is an accident.

The tone of this one is clearly against the changes. But my experience in driving in and around Carlisle leads me to believe that the problem might not actually be the layout itself, but that Carlisle seems to be home to some of the worst drivers in the region.  I've no doubt my own experience here isn't isolated - I've been run  into the Spencer Street railings twice, by drivers changing lane on the junction, while turning right along Georgian Way; I've had the same experience, trying to turn right from Shaddongate onto Bridge Street; I've lost count of the number of times drivers have changed lane on Hardwicke Circus and tried to remodel my offside door panels, and the number of times drivers just ignore red traffic lights is just staggering - anyone else have similar experiences or are they all out to get me?

About the Author

Tony S

Member since: 29th January 2012

Sea kayaking, hill walking, a bit of climbing and just taken up sailing.
Been in business in Carlisle for around 20 years (former Managing Director of Jack Wolfskin Ltd.), and a keen believer...

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