I READ with interest the reports in Saturday’s Examiner of the success of the Festival of Light and procession on Friday evening. It’s great to see successful community events like this being organised for the public.
But, does any body (ie Kirklees Council or the police) consider the traffic management problems generated by such an event. I don’t think so!
From early morning (before 7.30) St George’s Square was closed to most traffic; was this necessary? All traffic heading down Westgate intending to turn into the Square was re-directed down Westgate (a road designated for buses and bicycles only). This caused a blockage of traffic at the Market Place traffic lights – no consideration of changing the light sequence or timing here – which quickly backed up to the Market Street junction.
Traffic moving out of the right-hand lane of Market Street could not turn down Westgate (should be buses and bikes only) and vehicles in the middle lane aiming for the square had to make an instant diversion either left or right, in each case joining queues of already stationary traffic.
There was no attempt to reduce traffic from the ring road into the town centre at the top of Westgate or High Street/Market Street to reduce this congestion.
From early morning it was taking 15 minutes for buses bound for Leeds Road or Wakefield Road to get to Lord Street, a busy and important pick-up point.
No special instructions were given to bus drivers or passengers about any alternative arrangements. By mid-afternoon many bus drivers took the initiative to drive round the ring road to get out of town. But how many passengers were left stranded by this?
In the middle of the afternoon notices (A4 size!) were posted on the bus shelters in Lord Street and on the ring road opposite the Kingsgate Centre, advising passengers that buses would no longer be stopping there and they should catch their buses at the bus station! Again, nobody told the drivers, so many buses continued to struggle to pick up their passengers as usual, albeit very late. Strangely, by 4pm traffic congestion had eased and normal routes and times could be run.
Another and unconnected blockage occurred at the end of the morning peak period, when the traffic lights at the junction of Southgate and Kirkgate stuck on red.
Despite several reported calls to the police no officers attended and motorists in the long queues on the Ring Road, Wakefield Road, Bradford Road, Leeds Road and many others were forced to wait for long periods before bravely crossing the red lights to give some small relief to the jam. This situation lasted for at least an hour and a half until an engineer arrived to repair the fault. One or two police officers on point duty (remember that?) could have eased the problem at an early stage.
Who should take responsibility? Why doesn’t it happen??