The idea has won Bristol businessman Stuart Hignell the £5,000 top prize in the Federation of Small Businesses ‘Are you the New Brunel’ competition launched to find workable solutions to the city’s traffic gridlock.
The winning idea will be passed on to Mayor George Ferguson as part of a dossier of congestion-easing schemes.
Stuart Hignell pinpointed inefficient traffic controls as a major contributor to Bristol’s traffic congestion. He proposed a traffic light overlord should be appointed to ensure all lights are phased properly and to investigate opportunities to switch them off in certain locations or at certain times of day. He also suggested adding filters wherever possible.
Mr Hignell, managing director of Bristol Gas Supplies and Blast Event Hire in St Philips, faces the daily challenge not only of getting himself to work on time but ensuring his nine delivery vehicles meet their schedules.
He said: “Our success as a business is built on our ability to deliver orders quickly and correctly first time round and Bristol’s chronic congestion problems mean we have to factor in extensive delays every time a lorry leaves the site.
“We all have our traffic bugbears but mine is badly phased traffic lights. I have to negotiate nine sets of lights between where I live and where I work and there is nothing more annoying than sitting in the queue at a red light while the oncoming traffic lanes are deserted.
“There doesn’t seem to be any adjustment for traffic flowing in to the city in the mornings and hurrying it out again in the evening.
“If each one of our nine delivery vehicles is held up for two minutes longer than necessary at every set of lights they come across then it becomes clear we are talking about hundreds of wasted hours – not to mention wasted fuel – every year.
“This has a massive impact not just on Bristol Gas Supplies and Blast Event Hire but on every other business in the city trying to make a living and get the economy moving.”
City businessman Guy Kingston – who came up with the idea for the New Brunel competition said the FSB’s £5,000 cash prize had clearly inspired the public to think imaginatively and creatively.
He said: “We had hundreds of ideas on every aspect of Bristol’s transport system but Stuart’s entry is a common sense suggestion based on his own observations as a commuter and businessman. The appointment of a dedicated traffic light Tsar to ensure the city’s traffic control system is operating as smartly as possible could be introduced quickly, cheaply and make a real difference.”
Though there was no second prize, the runner-up was Matthew French, who suggested that all bus stops on busy routes should be recessed, ensuring that buses pull clear of the road to stop and don’t hold up other vehicles behind them. Again the judges felt this was another simple, common sense suggestion that could be implemented with ease yet have a huge impact on easing traffic headaches for everyone.
Other ideas presented to the FSB included a submersible dual carriageway rising from the New Cut, a huge underground car park beneath Clifton and a selection of monorail systems.
Guy Kingston said: “People really joined in the spirit of the competition and we think there is plenty for the Mayor to consider. As well as infrastructure changes people came up with common sense ideas such as staggering school and office start times to try and ease rush hour snarl-ups.
“They also called for more park and rides and for old railway lines to be re-opened.As business people, the FSB was looking for genuinely innovative schemes which paid serious attention to the needs of motorists but also looked at other aspects which could ease the entire transport network. We were also looking for ways to improve parking in the city.
“With such a wide range of clever original ideas, Bristol could easily become the country’s best city to drive in. We just need the Council to grasp this one-off opportunity and make the most of it.”
Business leaders judging the competition included Stephen Clarke, partner at Clarke Willmott solicitors, Guy Kingston of Russian Trade Consultants Kingston Rohdes, and formerly chairman of the Bristol Branch of the Federation of Small Businesses, alongside Peter Hargreaves of Hargreaves Lansdown.
Issued on behalf of the Bristol branch of the Federation of Small Businesses by Empica. For further information contact Martin Powell (01275) 394400.