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Traffic in PZ is an issue. Well, it’s actually an issue everywhere; there’s just too much of it. Whereas in the past there was generally one car per home, it’s now not uncommon for two, three or sometimes four vehicles to be parked up.

And we drive EVERYWHERE now. Locally, stats show that most car journeys in the PZ area are less than 5k. In the past we’d have walked, biked, lift shared or used public transport for those journeys. Now, we think nothing of hopping in our cars and nipping to Lidl or the cashpoint.

Traffic also gets everyone’s goat. Just look at the chaos on the roads this summer with the influx of tourists; again, not just bringing one car but two (and, in one case we heard, FIVE cars) for their stay in the area. Covid hasn’t helped, either. People are less confident with public transport and lift sharing. Throw in the great staycation and soaring popularity of PZ (and Cornwall in general as a destination), there was more fuel for the jams.

But Covid behaviour impacts aside, this is all indicative of one of the biggest issues we face if we are to tackle carbon emissions and balance up how we live with the planet. We need to use our cars much, much less.

Cornwall has made a commitment to net zero carbon emissions by 2030. What does that mean in terms of transport’s contribution? According to stats, it’s an 85% reduction in traditional car travel.

But we are so reliant on our cars, especially here in Cornwall. We can’t just stop driving! Our lives, the system and our geographical location aren’t set up to enable it.

That doesn’t mean we can’t do anything though. And who doesn’t want safer streets, cleaner air and a pedestrian and cycle friendly town centre? How lovely it would be to ditch car domination and design streets for people and alternative forms of transport instead, in a way that also enables wildlife corridors, tree planting and environment regeneration.

If the environmental emergency isn’t your thing, though, there are other hefty benefits. Health and wellbeing soars with more active travel, facilities and cleaner air. The local economy benefits, too. The town becomes a more attractive and welcoming place to shop and do business. Research shows footfall on high streets which are pedestrian friendly can increase by up to 40% and that people choose to hang around longer, upping spend.

Then there are the community benefits. PZ is not the most accessible town if you have a disability or mobility challenge, and some of that stuff just can’t be changed (e.g. The Terrace) BUT in creating alternative modes of getting around, and making streets safer we can do a lot more to be inclusive. Another benefit in enabling the physically able to take up alternative travel, is that we’re leaving car travel to those who really need to use their cars.

PZ does not have a well-off population. That’s reflected in the fact that car ownership here is the lowest in the county. So, why not make it easier and more affordable to get around without a car. And then there’s the younger generation; how great would it be to make it easier for young people who can’t drive to get around and open up opportunities and horizons for them?

This is why we’re involved with the Healthy Streets community initiative. You can read about how that came about here. For us, we see it as a positive first step to achieving a fantastic new future for the town.

Here’s what SPZ is calling for in our own Transport Vision:

  • Reduce unnecessary traffic in the town centre
  • Reduce air pollution and carbon emissions from transport
  • Reduce car dominance & use, by enabling alternatives
  • Increased accessibility and safety
  • Improved environment, health & wellbeing and economy
  • Support and access for all residents and businesses

Elements of that vision, what we think the above could look like, include:

  • Out of town Park & Ride and Park & Bike facilities. Quick wins in the meantime could include marketing St Erth Park & Ride to be used for PZ (as well as St Ives) and utilising existing spaces in out of town supermarket/retail car parks. We could also look at periphery parking at places like Penwith College on weekends and in holidays.
  • Accessible and cheap electric ‘Hoppa’ bus services on regular loops. There’d be a loop each for Heamoor, Gulval, Marazion & Long Rock and Newlyn & Mousehole. They’d service the park & rides too as they went past, and there’d be an additional town centre loop (taking in all the tourism hotspots too)
  • Making sure through traffic is routed around the town and that day trippers/shoppers are better signposted to car parks, via the ring round (that was what it was built for).
  • A comprehensive network of safe cycle routes connecting homes, schools and businesses in the town centre but also to the surrounding communities of Heamoor, Gulval, Long Rock & Marazion and Newlyn & Mousehole
  • Bike hubs for safe storage and bike hire, including e-bikes. This could link various pick up and drop off points around the whole area. Street bike hubs would enable people who live in town to store cycles if there’s no easy access or storage at home

  • PZ Tuk Tuks, for work or pleasure. They’d enable businesses to deliver locally without cars or small vans. They could transport visitors who arrive by train to their accommodation, or just take their luggage. How about an alternative way to get to work in the morning, or to Newlyn Cinema in the evening? It’s also a fab way for visitors to see the town and coastal route.
  • A Car Club to enable non-car owners or those who want to reduce multiple cars in their household. Just join up and book out an electric car to get about when you need it.
  • Comprehensive Shopmobility scheme and other accessibility measures including the Hoppa loops, yellow routes through town, more ramps and disabled access points and community transport projects.
  • Streetscaping and pedestrian & cycle friendly zones to prioritise sustainable transport and take out car dominance. This includes making the town a 20mph zone, looking at rat runs and improving residential areas by looking at how traffic moves around the town and making some streets access only.
  • Ensure people who live and work or run businesses from the town have adequate parking and access. Cars will still exist and be used.
  • An out of town delivery hub where lorries and couriers can deliver and various electric vehicles, including e-cargo bikes, can take loads or items on. This won’t work for everything – but it’ll help take some strain out of the system. It could be complimented with delivery lockers in town centre locations for local collections.
  • An electric car-charging network which services streets, homes, businesses and car parks.
  • Becoming a Sustainable Transport Hub for the whole of Penwith, to support tourism, business and commuters as well as locals. Imagine PZ station linking bus, train, electric bike, Tuk Tuk, car club and Shopmobility services… and being the hub for services linking up the whole of Penwith and to UK mainline services. Public transport needs a serious overhaul – let’s do it and enable visitors and locals to leave the car at home.

How can you help? Five things you can try from today:

  • Be more aware of how you are using the car. Make a list of the short journeys you could do on foot or bike, and try it.
  • Group errands so you’re only going on one car trip, rather than lots of little trips
  • Liftshare as often as possible
  • Could you get the train or bus instead of driving? Yes, we know public transport isn’t great here, but it’s improving and linking together better. There may actually be times it works for you.
  • Build in a car free day to your week

Get more top tips on every day changes to help create a sustainable community here.

We’re part of the Healthy Streets PZ team. Read more here.