The Vision for Pedestrians in Shrewsbury
In recent months, the Civic Society has been focusing on the experience of the pedestrian in the town centre. We are committed to the protection and conservation of Shrewsbury’s built environment for the benefit of residents and visitors and would suggest that the special character of the town can only be fully appreciated by a pedestrian. As a result, in October 2019, our Access Group put forward six specific proposals to improve the pedestrian experience in the town:
1: The Square is currently blighted by noticeable car traffic using the supposedly pedestrianised area as a highway, especially by taxis waiting for their fares. This is undertaken because three sides of the Square are still officially designated as roads. SCS therefore suggests that the Square should become wholly, exclusively and officially a pedestrian precinct apart from vehicles attending emergencies, licensed delivery vehicles and some access facilities. All other uses would constitute an offence.
2: Princess Street has signs that designate it as part pedestrianised zone, yet traffic persists in using it as a shortcut to Shoplatch. Shrewsbury Civic Society proposes additional signposting to safeguard it from unauthorised usage.
3: At the lower end of Pride Hill pedestrians need to give way at all times to traffic coming from High Street. A similar situation at the top end of Pride Hill is dealt with by the use of a pelican crossing, meaning that pedestrians can occasionally take priority over traffic. SCS believes that such a measure is also appropriate and necessary for the lower end of Pride Hill.
4: At the bottom of Claremont Bank there is a distinct desire line for pedestrians seeking to cross the road towards Claremont Street. However, the existing pedestrian crossing lies some 50 metres away from this desire line, causing it to be ignored by many pedestrians, who prefer to risk crossing the road in accordance with their desire line. This is exacerbated when events take place in the Quarry. SCS believes that the pedestrian crossing should be moved to match the desire line. It also believes that a second pedestrian crossing will be needed near the new student accommodation blocks.
5: Wyle Cop is particularly troublesome for pedestrians seeking to cross the road or to fully appreciate this historic shopping street. At the bottom of Wyle Cop is a ramp that acts as a traffic calmer and as a ‘silent’ crossing point, where drivers look out more for pedestrians crossing the road. SCS proposes the installation of three further ramps, evenly spaced, that would encourage further consideration for pedestrians by slowing down traffic.
6: High Street suffers from relatively narrow pavements, which can force pedestrians to move into the street during busy periods, such as Saturday during shopping hours. SCS proposes that all traffic, apart from buses and emergency vehicles, should be prohibited from using High Street and Shoplatch during these busy periods.
At a subsequent meeting the Access Group put further proposals forward, which it considered would not prejudice any development related to the Big Town Plan and most of which it believes can be implemented speedily
It is generally agreed that lower speeds enhance not only the pedestrian experience, making it easier to cross the road, but also reduce pollution. SCS proposes that the 20-mph speed limit be extended to encompass the whole of the Loop and be extended to the three main entry points, viz. Frankwell Island, the Abbey Foregate gyratory and the Station gyratory. This measure would also have the advantage of encouraging through traffic to seek other routes.
Low Emission Zone
This measure applies mainly to diesel lorries and buses, aiming to reduce the size of large vehicles in the zone and reducing urban pollution by particulates. SCS believes this measure should be introduced urgently across the town centre, including the three main entry points.
SCS believes that, in order to reduce traffic through the centre, signs outside the town should direct traffic to the three approaches to the town ‘North Shrewsbury’, ‘East Shrewsbury’ and ‘West Shrewsbury’. Those signs should not point as they do today just to ‘Shrewsbury’ or ‘Town Centre’.
Traffic light phases should be revised to favour the pedestrian so that the response time to pedestrian requests at pelican crossings is reduced to a minimum. At the same time, traffic light phases at junctions should include an all-red phase for vehicles in order to facilitate the movement of pedestrians.
Residents’ Parking Schemes
These are important in residential areas close to the town centre in order to deter commuters and shoppers from parking just outside the Loop and to encourage more people to walk to the centre.
Town Centre Public Transport
A major contributory factor to the use of the town centre by pedestrians of all abilities is the development of frequent, small and pollution-free buses connecting the central shopping streets with the three main entry points and the bus station. Such a system would elevate the town to the 21st century.