Trial ban of traffic in some Exeter streets get the green light in bid to boost walkers and cyclists

A controversial trial of changes to roads in the Heavitree and Whipton areas of Exeter – barring traffic and boosting cyclists and pedestrians – has been agreed.

Several bollards and planters – dubbed as ‘modal filters’ by council bosses – together with gates to allow buses through will be installed to block off some residential streets.

They will be in place for up to 18 months, writes Local Democracy Reporter Ollie Heptinstall.

The trial was agreed by the Exeter Highways and Traffic Orders Committee at its June meeting.

More than 2,000 vehicles travel along many of these residential streets every day and this deters local people from cycling or walking…

A statutory consultation period for feedback from residents and organisations will take place during the first six months.

Devon County Council (DCC) says the scheme will ‘improve public health and wellbeing’.

However, some concerns have been expressed over traffic being pushed onto nearby main roads and increased journey times.

Bus gates will be placed in Ladysmith Road, at the Park Road roundabout, and in Whipton Lane between Whiteway Drive and Georges Close.

They will allow buses, emergency vehicles and, when required, local authority vehicles such as waste collection lorries, to pass while banning other vehicles.

Meanwhile, the ‘modal filters’ will go in St Marks Avenue on the slip-road between Ladysmith Road roundabout and main section of St Marks Avenue; in Hamlin Lane between Wykes Road and Hamlin Gardens; and in Vaughan Road between Whipton Lane and Vaughan Rise.

The trial scheme follows two rounds of consultations with residents.

The most recent asked for views on four different options for modal filter layouts, but all were more opposed than supported.

As a result, the responses were analysed by council officers and modifications were made to the trial scheme design.

It was backed by a number of public speakers attending the meeting at County Hall in Exeter who supported a reduction in traffic and pollution through Heavitree and Whipton’s residential streets.

But others urged caution about pushing more traffic onto main roads, claiming it would lead to increased congestion and pollution, and lengthen some journeys.

The council’s consultation exercise was also criticised.

However, DCC’s senior transport officer stressed the trial could be abandoned at any point.

The council report added that ‘ongoing engagement and consultation’ to understand its impact.

The committee backed the trial, which will cost up to £190,000 funded by the Government. This includes monitoring its impact on traffic flows.

Committee chair Danny Barnes, who represents Heavitree and Whipton Barton, said: “More than 2,000 vehicles travel along many of these residential streets every day and this deters local people from cycling or walking.

“We have been engaging with the local people since 2020 and it is clear that from what they have told us that the amount of traffic and the lack of priority for walking and cycling is a concern.”

He added: “By trialling these additional interventions we hope to create a safer and more attractive environment for active travel while ensuring that all properties remain accessible by car.”

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