Urban Transport in Wigan - Human Geography Essay Example
In most cities in Britain, the speed of modern traffic is often slower than the horse drawn trams of the nineteenth century - Urban Transport in Wigan introduction. Traffic in London now averages a speed of thirteen kilometres per hour. In the ironically named ‘rush hour’, thousands of frustrated drivers sit in stationary cars, drive a few metres and then remain stationary again. A lot of cars only carry one person, this being the driver and twelve per cent of people spend more time travelling in their car than they do at home with their families.
Every year, the number of vehicles on the road increases. Since 1975, traffic on roads has rose by eighty five per cent yet the length of the public roads has only risen by eleven point two percent. This means that the extra traffic isn’t spread evenly throughout Britain’s road network. This problem is at its worst in towns were roads are even more neglected than city roads. Although Wigan’s traffic problem isn’t as major as some towns and cities, it still has a traffic problem. I am going to investigate if Wigan’s traffic problem is significant enough to warrant a by-pass, which would separate the major roads that run through Wigan from Wigan’s roads into and out of the town centre. A bypass would stop traffic travelling all the way around Wigan to get into the town centre.
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Here is a graph to show the rise in Great Britain’s road traffic:
‘Everyone has experienced urban congestion. The issue is what to do about it.’
Methods of reducing, the problems caused by urban congestion.
The way we try to tackle our traffic problems is called a ‘carrot and stick’ approach. The carrots are positive encouragements and the sticks are penalties to try and make car usage less attractive. Schemes that towns like Wigan or cities have or cities have or could set up are as follows:-
Park and ride
Park and ride schemes reduce the amount of cars in the centre of towns and cities by tempting motorists to stop outside the city and take the bus or other forms of public transport into the city or town centre. Schemes like this can be very cheap and as simple as providing a car park for a train station, these schemes can also be very profitable. A fine example of this is the city of Glasgow whose income from the scheme is more than one million pounds more than the cost of running it. People mainly use the scheme because the car park is secure and the fares are low.
Kiss and Ride:-
This scheme is even cheaper to provide. The scheme works by someone driving you to a train station e.g. the person’s wife. The person then kisses you goodbye and then drives the car away. This scheme could be very attractive to a couple who live outside a city.
Generally better parking:-
Traffic problems can be reduced by making less parking spaces or changing the cost of the service. For example if the maximum stay on a car park is a few hours, this is long enough for people to shop but not long enough for commuters. This means that business might benefit whilst commuting by car is discouraged, this is a win-win situation. Private parking in a town or city centre creates problems and some towns and cities want to tax this heavily.
Since 1975, bus mileage has steadily reduced by twenty eight per cent. Buses are just as slow as cars when caught in congestion. This is why bus lanes have been created so that buses can overtake slow traffic. Buses with transponders make traffic lights turn green when approached. Buses also greatly cut pollution fumes which are another plus.
Bikes are faster in city and town centres when there is congestion, they use fifty times less energy, are cheap and can keep commuters fit.
My overall aim is to see if Wigan has similar traffic problems to the country as a whole. Plus I will be investigating if Wigan’s roads are at the point were they are too congested and need a by-pass to ease the traffic flow in an around the town centre.
1. To survey the traffic flow in Wigan’s town centre
Traffic will be busier in the morning than the afternoon (true/false)
2. To see how Wigan manages its traffic
Wigan can cope with the amount of traffic using it’s centre (true/false)
3. To see what people think about Wigan’s traffic problems
Most people in Wigan think that Wigan has a traffic problem (true/false)
4. To see how traffic affects Wigan’s environment
The environment will improve with distance from main roads (true/false)
5. To see if parsons meadow would be suitable for a ‘Park and Ride’ site
Wigan needs a Park and Ride car park on the south side (true/false)
Has Wigan got a traffic problem and what is the best way to solve it?
Here is a short description of Wigan’s location:-
Lying midway between Liverpool and Manchester, Wigan is the country’s twelfth largest metropolitan district. Wigan has roads; (some major) radiating outwards from the centre. Wigan has a Victorian street pattern in its CBD and most importantly, it lacks a by-pass linking the M6 and M61 motorways which forces traffic through the narrow streets of the town centre.
Here is a map showing Wigan and the surrounding road network from quite a distance away:-
And here is a map showing Wigan and its surrounding streets from a much closer distance:-
And finally here is a map showing Wigan aerially from a close distance:-
Wigan has a population of 301,900 and is a local government area in the northwest of England. Wigan is an industrial town in Greater Manchester, midway between Liverpool and Manchester. Wigan stands on the River Douglas and the Leeds and Liverpool canal; it is also connected to the M6 and M62 and so often gets traffic from these major roads travelling through its rather small Victorian style streets.
What data I will need to collect in order to make my study appropriate.
In order to make my study appropriate I will have to collect certain types of effective data. The types of data I will collect and the reasons for this are as follows:-
* Environmental Survey, – I will do this simply by smelling the air around certain sites in Wigan and plot them on a scale. I will carry this out for volume of traffic, noise level, crossing potential and parking restrictions.
* Questionnaire, – I will do this by asking random people that I see in Wigan questions on the traffic situation in Wigan and how they travel to and from and what they do in Wigan.
* Traffic survey, – I will record the type and frequency of vehicles that I see at certain times in the day. I and my group will concentrate on Scholes/Greenough Street while other members of my class will observe other junctions and streets in Wigan in order for us to get a wider picture of Wigan’s traffic.
* Decision making exercise, – I will look at certain sites in Wigan and judge their potential in being future ‘Park and Ride’ sites for Wigan.
Aim 1:- A Traffic Survey of Wigan
I predict that traffic will be busier in Wigan town centre in the morning than the afternoon. I believe this to be true because in then morning there are more people travelling to work and taking their kids to school. In my opinion the most people will be travelling to in and from Wigan will be alone and will also be mostly driving cars.
On the 16th of September 2002, my geography class went to Wigan to complete a number of tasks. Before performing these tasks we split up into smaller groups so that each group could cover a wider area of Wigan and study a major road junction in the town centre each. My group consisted of me, Marcus Schofield, Brendan Reilly and Shaun Hitchen. Our group covered the junction at Scholes and Greenough Street, here we observed traffic and recorded the information. So we could get an idea of how the flow of traffic changed throughout the day, we did three traffic surveys at different times throughout the day. These times were 9.30 to 9.50, 11.30 to 11.50 and 2.30 to 2.50. Marcus recorded the number of people in each of the cars that passed, so that we could find out how most people travelled and with how many people. When we got back to school all of the groups compiled their collected information so that we could get an idea of what the traffic situation was like on the day.
Although I and my group carried out the survey as carefully as we could, there were things that hampered its reliability. Firstly, our traffic survey was a very basic one that used no specialised equipment or complicated and intricate techniques. The survey was also only carried out on one day of the week and for only a few hours, which only gave us a small section of a very large picture. Although we tried very hard it was inevitable that we missed a large number of vehicles out of our survey. Traffic was also quite busy on the day but other days of the week could have been a lot busier or less busy and to get the bigger picture we would have to complete a traffic survey over a longer period of time.
Pie chart to the number of vehicles seen at the junctions in Wigan at 9.30 on September 16th 2002
A tube chart to show the number of vehicles seen at the junctions in Wigan at 11.30 on September 16th 2002
A cone chart to show the number of vehicles seen at the junctions in Wigan at 14.30 on September 16th September
A comparative bar chart to show traffic in Wigan on the 16th September 2002
Some other graphs are included on separate pieces of paper
Aim 1: Analysis
From my collected results I can draw the following observations. Firstly I have discovered that the most popular type of vehicle in Wigan on the 16th September 2002 when my survey was conducted was the car. My group alone saw 1752 cars at the junction we were surveying (Scholes/Greenough junction). Yet surprisingly seeing 1752 cars at our junction this still wasn’t the busiest junction surveyed, overall Wallgate and Queen Street junction was the busiest with 4946 cars. The busiest time of the day for all traffic in Wigan was between 9.30 and 10.00am. For example, the junction that I was studying, namely Scholes and Greenough Street had a large amount of vehicles passing through it at this time. Finally most vehicles that I saw had one person in them.
Aim 1: Conclusion
From my results, I can say that most people, who travel into Wigan town centre, do so on their own and use the car. This is no real surprise because the car is the most used form of transport in the country and of course in Wigan too. Most of the people travelling in Wigan are actually travelling through Wigan from the M62 to the M6 and vice-versa. The reason for traffic having to pass through Wigan to travel on major roads and on the motorway is due to Wigan’s lack of a by-pass, this is a major cause of congestion in Wigan at certain times e.g. when traffic is busiest. Traffic in Wigan is busiest in the morning between 9.30 and 10.00am, this is due to commuters travelling to work and people also taking their children to school. Wigan town centre can only just cope with the flow of traffic that it receives at the moment; however car ownership is rising every year which means that unless Wigan gets a by-pass to separate its traffic or a lot more people start to use public transport, then Wigan could find itself with major traffic problems in the near future.
Aim 2: A Transport Survey of Wigan Town Centre
I predict that Wigan can cope with the amount of traffic using its town centre. I believe this to be true because on the day of our survey and am sure on every other day there was a lot of traffic in the town centre, especially cars but also a lot of car parks with enough spaces to deal with the traffic demands.
Throughout the day when my fieldwork was conducted, we completed a traffic survey, however as mentioned in my contents, I also had a lot of other tasks to complete. One of these tasks was a transport survey of the town centre. I and everybody else looked at how many cars were using the town centre car parks, to see if they were being over or under used. The idea was to see how well Wigan town centre copes with traffic, and if this creates more problems than it solves. Back in school we analysed and then compiled all of our results and used this to produce a map.
As before we tried as hard as we could to collect the most accurate information we could but there were some limitations to the exercise. Firstly we only counted the car parks once during the day. We would also need to conduct the survey over a longer period of time, including weekends an holidays to get a more accurate idea of how well-used each car-park is.
The results are on the included separate pieces of paper.
Aim 2: Analysis
From my collected results, I can say that the car-park with the largest capacity in the town centre is The Galleries. This is because it’s in a central location and has been designed to be convenient for shoppers, its popularity and position is helped by the fact that shoppers who park there don’t need to go outside and brave the weather to shop in the Galleries. The car-park with the most cars in it was the Galleries and the reason for this was that is close to the shops and being a week day there were many shoppers in Wigan so it was inevitable that there would be people parking in the Galleries.
Smaller car parks are located on the edge of town on derelict or cheap land, for example the car park near Watkin Street, which had space for thirty odd cars and a reason for this is that land space dictates the number of parking spaces available, therefore a small land space in an unfashionable place will only have a small number of parking spaces. I can also say that Wigan has tried to cope with its traffic problems by using the following methods, numerous Bus lanes in the town centre, Pedestrianized zones were traffic is not allowed, One way systems to control the direction of traffic flow, Double yellow lines to prevent parking in built up areas, River way.
Aim 2: Conclusion
From my results I can say that Wigan can cope with the amount of traffic using its town centre itself but cannot cope with the extra traffic going through or around it. I believe this to be true because Wigan has a number of car parks to deal with the traffic in it’s town centre, however as my results in Aim 1 show there is too much traffic around and travelling through Wigan for it to cope, even though Wigan has put preventions like the ones that I have previously mentioned in place there is still too much traffic.
People I have questioned in Aim 3 also believe that traffic in Wigan is too congested but they believe that there are enough car parks with enough spaces to cope with traffic in the town centre. Most of the car parks in the town centre didn’t have enough car park spaces but the ones which did have enough spaces had many surplus places which balance the traffic out. Studying the map labelled ‘Number of cars in the town centre 16/9/02’ will show my conclusions to be correct. Another question asked is whether the bus and train station in Wigan are within the CBD and the answer is yes, in my opinion being in such close proximity to the town centre the bus and train stations positions can only help Wigan’s transport problems.
Aim 3: Questionnaire Survey
The aim of my questionnaire was to survey a number of different people to find out their views of Wigan’s transport problems.
I predict that most people in Wigan don’t think that Wigan has a traffic problem. I believe this to be true because people don’t take notice of the traffic problems when going to shop and so wouldn’t realise if Wigan has a traffic problem.
During the time that I was in Wigan, I and my group as well as everyone else that went questioned a number of people to find out there views about Wigan’s traffic situation and transport problems. In our survey we asked people a number of questions such as ‘How did you get here?’, ‘Does Wigan need a by-pass?’, ‘Did you find the traffic busy this morning?’ and ‘Do you find public transport satisfactory?’. We completed our questionnaires during the gaps between our traffic surveys. Some were completed during the morning and others during the afternoon. Our group questioned people in and around the library and WH Smith in Wigan town centre. Back in school, we compiled our results to get a larger sample of peoples, which we could analyse. We used the information to complete a number of graphs and maps, including a star map.
Some groups asked different questions, so not all our answers matched. Some groups may have questioned the same people, sour answers may be duplicated. Not all people gave true answers, and like with our other aims, we need to widen our sample by including people who visit Wigan at other times, such as school children, some commuters and workers.
Results of the questionnaire survey:-
Question Answers given
1. Where are you from? Burnley Skem Pemberton Wigan Skem Wigan Worsley Standish
2. How often do you visit? 1st time every daily weekly daily daily daily twice a
3.What is the purpose of
your visit? Pick up work shopping bank college gym work shopping
4. How did you get here? Car van car car bus bus bus bus
5.Does Wigan need a no no yes no no no no yes
Park + ride scheme?
6.Does Wigan need a no no yes yes no no no yes
7.Do you normally travel 3ppl 2ppl 2ppl 2ppl alone alone alone alone
8.Did you find it busy this no no yes no yes yes no no
9. What fuel do you use? Diesel diesel diesel unleaded X X X X
10.Do you find public no no no no no yes yes yes
Other graphs including star map are on separate sheets of paper
Aim 3: Analysis
From my results I can say the following things, Firstly that most people that me and my group interviewed were between the ages of 17 and 30. Most people we surveyed visited Wigan to do different things e.g. shop, work, go college, go the gym. Most people travelled to Wigan by bus and most people came from different directions but all the people I surveyed came from local areas e.g. Skelmersdale. Although some people did visit Wigan from further a field as a one off visit e.g. Scotland. I can also say that when we asked people if they were in favour of a by-pass, they said no, which meant that most people weren’t in favour of a by-pass. When I asked if the people were in favour of a ‘Park and Ride’ scheme, most of them said that they were not. This information points to the fact that most people that I surveyed in Wigan were happy with the current transport situation and felt that the measures put in place by Wigan council were adequate.
Aim 3: Conclusion
From my results I can also make the following conclusions, Firstly the reason that most people we questioned were in the age group of 17 to 30 was that these people were either working, going to college or going to the gym, people of this age do these activities everyday and so I believe these results were accurate. The reason why most people visited Wigan to do all the different things e.g. shop, work, go college, go the gym. Is because we surveyed various different people who do different things and Wigan has good facilities for these people to complete their various tasks.
The reason why most people travelled to Wigan by bus was that they didn’t have a car to travel in and so used public transport; however the strange thing about this information was that these people then told me that they found public transport inadequate, these results shocked me. The reason that most people came from nearby areas was that Wigan has good facilities and so is the obvious choice for people who live nearby who don’t have a car and so have to use public transport. Wigan has good public transport links. Most people think that Wigan doesn’t have a traffic problem, this is because as I said in my prediction, people don’t take notice of the traffic problems when going to perform tasks such as shopping and so wouldn’t realise if Wigan has a traffic problem. This is not a case of ignorance, just of not really being interested or looking out for traffic problems and their causes.
Aim 4: Environmental Quality Survey
The aim of my environmental quality survey is to find out if Wigan’s roads and traffic, are harming the environment and how much noise and traffic pollution they are causing and to see if the information points to changes that may need to happen to halt Wigan’s traffic problem and help the environment.
I predict that the environment in Wigan will improve with distance from main roads. I believe this to be true because near any road there is much more pollution (noise and smoke) than away from the roads and in more rural areas.
During the time that I was in Wigan, I and my group as well as everyone else that went performed an environmental quality survey to see what pollution at various different sites was like and how busy roads affected pollution, we didn’t use any equipment to test the noise and smoke pollution, we simply looked, smelled and listened. We then recorded these results and when back at school compiled this information to give us a larger and clearer picture of what Wigan’s pollution and environment in general was like. We then put all of this information into graphs and charts to show our findings.
As before we tried as hard as we could to collect the most accurate information we could but there were some limitations to the exercise. Firstly we didn’t use any specialized equipment so indescrepencies could have occurred in the testing of some areas. Secondly we couldn’t survey all the places in Wigan and the places that we did survey, we only performed it once, which means that we didn’t get the best picture possible. To get the bigger picture on Wigan’s environment we would have had to record at many more sites in Wigan and at different times in the day and in the week.
The results and graphs from my environmental quality survey are included on separate pieces of paper.
Aim 4: Analysis
From my results, I can say that the best quality environments in Wigan were at Warrington Lane and Caroline Street were the land usage is mostly derelict and not built up. The worst quality environments that we surveyed were Central Park way and Wallgate close to Wigan pier, at these places there are busy roads with built up traffic and at Wallgate more than one lane of traffic flowing down a one way system.
Aim 4: Conclusion
From my results and my chlorolpeth (and Isoline) map, I can say that the ‘best’ quality areas are located around quite areas away from the town centre were theirs derelict land or quiet streets. This is because they are away from the busiest junctions that I explained in Aim 1 and therefore are away from the heavily produced noise and fumes at the junctions and built up areas. Caroline Street is in a similar area to Wallgate and Queen Street junction but is significantly far away to make the area much more environmentally clean than the actual junction itself.
The junction of Wallgate and Queen Street junction has an environmental rating of 6 which is very bad; however Caroline Street has an environmental rating of 12 which is twice as good, showing that the junctions have a poorer environmental rating and condition than the places away from heavy traffic e.g. quiet roads and derelict land. Another example of junctions being environmentally poorer than quieter streets or derelict land is the junction that I surveyed, Scholes and Greenough Street junction, this had a rating of 9 which is better than wallgate and queen street junction because it is less busy, but the quieter street of Warrington Lane which again isn’t very far away from the junction has the best environmental rating, this being 15 which is very good for a town area. I believe that this only serves to back up my prediction, this being that the environment in Wigan will improve with distance from main roads.
From my results I can also say that the ‘worst’ quality environments are located around or close to the busy junctions and on busier or main roads. This is because they are close to the busiest junctions and streets were traffic is congested and fumes and noise are heavily produced, these environmentally poor areas match the busiest junctions that I found in Aim 1.
For example in Aim 1 I discovered that the busiest junction was Wallgate and Queen Street junction which was heavily built up and had an environmental rating of 6 which I have previously said is poor, but away from this junction Caroline Street has an environmental rating of 12 which is twice as good, showing that the junctions have a poorer environmental rating and condition than the places away from heavy traffic e.g. quiet roads and derelict land. Another example of junctions being environmentally poorer than quieter streets or derelict land is the junction that I surveyed, Scholes and Greenough Street junction, this had a rating of 9 which is better than wallgate and queen street junction because it is less busy, but the quieter street of Warrington Lane which again isn’t very far away from the junction has the best environmental rating, this being 15. I believe that this information supports my prediction.
Overall, traffic is having an effect on the environment in Wigan, but compared with other parts of Britain the environment is better. One reason for this could be that Wigan is a town and problems in cities are much worse due to far more traffic and more congestion. Another reason is that Wigan has taken several measures which I have previously mentioned to combat its traffic problems e.g. one way systems and bus lanes which stop a lot of traffic flow. But more majorly were the environmental scores were poor in Wigan the surrounding nature was bad. E.g. there were dying plants. However even worse in the future if the environment carries on getting worse people could suffer developing problems like asthma and more serious effects.
From all my studied information I can now say that my prediction is true this is because the environment in Wigan will improve with distance from main roads.
Table to show the scores given for the sites that my group visited.
Aim 5: Does Wigan need a ‘Park and Ride’ Site
To study certain sites in Wigan and decide whether they are suitable for a ‘Park and Ride’ scheme.
I predict that Wigan needs a Park and Ride car park on the south side Wigan needs a park and ride scheme and that of the two areas that I will study, I believe that Parsons Meadow with work is the perfect site.
During the time that I was in Wigan, I and my group as well as everyone else that went looked and studied two sites in Wigan to see their suitability in being future park and ride sites. The sites we studied were Parsons Meadow and The old factory site on Eleanor Street. We then took pictures of the sites and when back at school discussed their suitability further and made a decision as to which we think is the best for the site and for Wigan, its people and tourists and visitors.
Wigan experiences a lot of traffic congestion in the narrow streets of its town centre. A ‘Park and Ride’ scheme might help solve some of these problems.
1. Parsons Meadow: – Is a large area of open land behind Eleanor Street and the railway line. There is enough space to build here without having to demolish anything.
2. The Old Factory Site on Eleanor Street: –
Annotated maps of the two sites are included on separate sheets of paper.
I think Parsons Meadow is a suitable place to build a ‘Park and Ride’ site for Wigan. The reasons for this are most people who come to Wigan do so from a local area and enter through the south side of the town were the park and ride scheme would be based there, because most people surveyed either travel by bus or car it would be perfect for everyone involved. The busiest junctions in Wigan are Wallgate and Queen Street junction and Greenough and Powell Street junction, traffic in these areas would be significantly decreased due to the amount of people that would be using the ‘park and ride’ scheme, in fact the traffic travelling through them would flow smoothly due to the vast decrease in cars using it.
Park and ride can have traffic-reduction benefits and I think that Wigan is a town that would benefit being an urban-area I think a park and ride scheme would complete its objective of intercepting cars on the edge of town and running additional dedicated bus services from the car parks. The conclusion in my opinion would be that serious traffic congestion would be avoided. What park and ride schemes really do is redistribute traffic from inside and around the town centre to places just outside from the town. Wigan town centre can just about cope with the traffic in it but cannot cope with the traffic just outside its town centre, the traffic that a park and ride scheme would take away from the areas in and around the town centre would be significant and would take a large weight off the narrow streets in the town centre making a big difference. So if the site was developed, it would have an impact on the environment.
This impact would most definitely be a good one. For example the amount of fumes would be decreased due to fewer cars in Wigan and buses create less harmful fumes, also noise levels would decrease and air freshness would be better. Also the wildlife and nature around the congested roads would improve due to a lower level of harmful fumes. Local residents on Eleanor Street would probably welcome the scheme because it would mean a decrease in the traffic they receive, plus being at the site of the ‘park and ride’ scheme the residents would be in line for redevelopment and they would also get press coverage at the opening which would definitely appeal to most of the citizens of Eleanor Street. So in my opinion Parsons Meadow should most definitely become a ‘park and ride’ site because of the financial, economic and environmental gains that it will bring to Wigan and the surrounding area, the traffic situation in Wigan will become a lot better.