HUSBANDS do have their uses, and this week mine made a valuable contribution to my inner debate about how to unclog Salisbury’s roads.
“You can’t predict the traffic patterns of the future based on what’s happened in the past,” he pointed out, “because after this pandemic people will be working from home more. We hope.”
Well, I had got so bogged down in my timeworn thought patterns that I hadn’t considered that.
There will undoubtedly be a change in behaviour. Whether it’ll be widespread enough to have a significant impact on our ring road jams and polluted air we’ll have to wait and see.
But it does offer a ray of hope that won’t actually cost millions.
In the meantime, I’ve heard it suggested that we should plough ahead with the experimental ban on through traffic in the city centre even though it will increase congestion on the ring road, because officialdom will only do something to help us when the A36 becomes impassable. And we’re not there yet.
It won’t be long, though. Factor in the expected explosion in Harnham traffic – cars and vans serving three new housing estates and lorries thundering through to Southampton’s expanding port facilities – and we really won’t know which way to turn.
Which is precisely the point, I’ve been told. We residents might give up trying to get through the gyratory if we find ourselves going nowhere on the other side, with no option of rat-running through town. We might walk, or cycle, instead.
Bypasses are out of the question, apparently, unless they bring what are known as ‘economic benefits’, i.e. more housing – in which case of course they’re not bypasses at all but outer ring roads surrounded by yet more mass-produced estates that draw yet more traffic. In other words, the solution becomes an extension of the problem.
This trial ban on most traffic in central Salisbury is just that – a trial – I’m told, and one that could be stopped at any time if the public get too fed up.
But I’ve read about how it will affect the folk running the Washing Well in Chipper Lane, a very handy launderette when you’ve got bulky things to clean and you need to drop them off at the door, and I’m just glad the decision to kill off a small local business won’t be my responsibility.