The enforced closure of King Street seven days a week has brought a stronger focus on traffic management in the town centre. Measures have been put in place to ease some of the short term impacts from displaced traffic, which has been made worse by the continued overnight closure of the A49. I hope we can agree the date for King Street reopening in the next few days.

But what do we do in the long term? The Buttercross and Bodenhams are bashed up with depressing regularity. The damage to the Buttercross in this incident has been significant. We need to protect our historic buildings. Our town centre would not be the same without them.

There are only a few options. None are perfect. But one idea gaining ground is to reverse the traffic flow in the town centre.

Current traffic flow in the town centre

There will be no change to traffic management in the town centre in the short term. But we need to think about the long term.

Perhaps we should ban all traffic from the town centre during the middle of the day. I don’t think that is a runner as our town has no service roads. We could have a weight or length limit on vehicles. That’s attractive but weight limits are usually qualified by “except for access”. That means that construction vehicles, brewery drays and removal vans will still be allowed into the centre. Pretty much business as usual.

Perhaps we should ban large and heavy vehicles during the middle of the day. That’s also attractive. But it doesn’t protect Bodenhams (Grade II* listed) and the Buttercross (Grade I) from a battering during other hours.

I’ve been talking through an idea with bus and HGV drivers. It is simple. We reverse traffic flow in the town centre. Vehicles enter through Brand Lane and Bell Lane. They would turn right on to Mill Street. Then down High Street and King Street to exit the town centre.

Reverse traffic flow in the town centre

This is a big scheme. The Mill Street bus stop will need to be moved from the Ludlow Assembly Rooms to the opposite side of the road. The diagonal on-street parking spaces will need to be changed. New signage will be needed. We will need bollards outside Barclays. New traffic lights at the east end of King Street.

But reversing traffic flow will mean that large vehicles will get a better approach to the Buttercross Bodenhams chicane. There will be less likelihood of damage to two of our town’s most precious historic assets.

If this idea, and it is no more than an idea at present, gains traction, we will need grant funding. It is already clear that we must bid for sustainable transport funding to upgrade the Eco Park park and ride. The town centre reconfiguration could be part of that bid. We could even include an electric shuttle bus between the Eco Park and the town centre.

We tend to patch up and make do on transport in our town. We need a complete rethink about how get in and out of Ludlow. The time to begin that rethink is now.

Reversing traffic will not solve the problem of The Narrows
6 thought on “Should we reverse traffic flow in Ludlow town centre? To me it makes a lot of sense but it is a big project”
  1. In principle a good idea. Big flaw would seem to be entrance into Brand Lane from Old Street. This would be a very tight negotiation for bigger, longer vehicles. Maybe even worse than the Bodenham’s chicane. ?

  2. I agree about the Broad street turn. Even cars coming out to turn right up Broad Street end up well into the middle of the road.
    I would also have thought approaching the Buttercross and Bodenham’s bottleneck from the opposite direction would be equally if not even more difficult to navigate for big trucks.
    The obvious solution for a greener future is to ban all large trucks from the centre and the setting up of a hub on the Eco Park where goods are transferred to smaller (electric) vans for delivery to town centre stores.

  3. I agree with Marilyn. We should really be taking seriously ways to reduce traffic in the town centre and that means closing King Street. It means a greater reliance on walking, cycling or using the bus into the town centre. Literally hundreds of small historic towns across Europe have pedestrianised successfully so why not Ludlow ? Two towns with a similar population and visitor profile, Abergavenny and Monmouth, have closed their main thoroughfares to traffic this year to good effect so we have local examples to check out.

    Delivery of goods can be time or weight limited, buses can be allowed access; there are many technical solutions which would allow us to reduce C02 emissions, improve air quality and offer an improved overall ambience for residents and visitors alike.

    In other towns restrictions have

  4. * Get an up to date Origin & Destination survey done. Use this data to inform the strategy which needs to be mindful of the future needs which are clearly changing. We are not in the 20th Century anymore.
    * Separate the needs of residents (within centre and wider town), business owners, tourists, suppliers and transport operators
    * Sieve out the emotion and the non applicable statements about the town as it operated 30 years ago
    * Look at other towns with similar problems and the solutions they’ve found
    * Ensure the planning that comes out of this is both inclusive and transparent and mindful of impact on environment
    * Proper cost:benefit analysis for the town as a whole
    * Rank the recommendations so that they may be implemented singly as finances allow and yet holistically as a whole.
    * Whoever leads on this needs to have proper governance – with timescales, gateways and reporting hierarchy in place.

  5. Just a thought about reversing the traffic, if you bring traffic out onto the Bullring from King street why not open Tower street and let it go straight across. Avoids traffic going over Ludford bridge to exit the town.

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