Air Pollution in the Vineyard

Air Pollution in the Vineyard
Walking in Abingdon this afternoon my wife commented how bad the pollution from traffic was down the Vineyard.

The air pollution used to be concentrated in the town centre shopping streets before the Abingdon Integrated Transport Strategy (AbITS), implemented in 2006,  started holding traffic outside the town centre in roads like the Vineyard and Ock Street.
Air Pollution in the Vineyard
On investigation I found that the VWHDC council monitors levels of pollutants around the town centre. Monitoring tubes are fixed to lamp posts. They are exposed for a month at a time and sent to the laboratory for analysis and reporting.
Air Pollution in the Vineyard
One monitoring tube is in the Vineyard, and like most of the tubes around Abingdon town centre it shows a slowly decreasing trend in nitrogen dioxide levels.

This data is available at

25 thoughts on “Air Pollution in the Vineyard

  1. Geoff Bailey

    This news is hardly surprising. The number of traffic light in the town, in the Vineyard, in Ock Street and the High Street makes for queques of traffic everywhere and while the various crossings are essential to pedestrians the air pollution must be increasing. Sadly with the road system as it is there is no obvious solution. There is no quick way through the town at peak periods.

  2. Janet

    No signs of the diamond interchange being buiilt to direct traffic from North Abingdon onto the southbound A34. Wait until the proposed housing is built in North Abingdon. There will be m ore static traffic through the town and more pollution.

  3. Iain

    You have to look at the data in the round rather than any one reader i think. My understanding is part of the purpose of the traffic system changes was to move the areas of pollution from the town centre to the three arterial roads. The rationale is that the pollution was therefore less concentrated.

    I had a look at the link above but it is difficult to get an overall picture of whether this is or isnt happening. Has anyone managed to draw out the overall picture (it looks like the data is there, just not in a consolidated form – unless i have missed it)

  4. Daniel

    Have I missed something?

    “…a slowly decreasing trend in nitrogen dioxide levels…”

    Isn’t that a GOOD thing?

    My understanding of the AbITS implementation is that it was very badly ‘consulted’. Very badly ‘advised’. And then very badly ‘implemented’.

    Remember – or a heads up for anyone new – the traffic management system that controls all the traffic lights throughout the town (called SCOOT) was CHOSEN by the then Veil Council (the yellow team, if memory serves) as that is what the con-sultants advised, despite the fact that the people who market/sell/develop the system said “it will not work in a town like Abingdon”.

    The traffic then ground to a halt and as a complete disaster OCC offered to revert the system. But The Veil declined.

    It was only due to, virtually, a one man army, that got changes made to get the system half working…with no thanks to the “Professionals” at The Veil or OCC!

    Thankfully us tax payers were able to pay millions and millions of pounds to the “con-sultants” for the ensuing disaster – who took the money with no accountability for the mess they created.

    But…the flowers are lovely, and so we should know our place and really count ourselves very lucky.

    This was all about the same time that the four trees on the market square were replaced – at £18,000 EACH!

  5. Daniel

    pah – taxpayers…

    Does anyone know, do The Veil officers still get the plum parking spaces in the multi-story carpark…while all the ‘shoppers’ can go and park more inconveniently on the upper levels and/or Rye farm etc?

    And anyway…traffic? What traffic…between 7pm and 7am the Vineyard – and in fact all traffic in Abingdon – flows beautifully…so maybe the system is a success after-all!?

  6. Helen Flynn

    Stratton Way traffic lights need adjusting, the light sequences have never been right.

    Never mind the air pollution in Abingdon the noise pollution caused by traffic has got considerably worse over the last few years.

  7. horsesmouth

    Where to begin with this? well the bottom line is the system is not fit for ,purpose as reported by traffic solutions in their independent report a decade ago.
    1, the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Vineyard and Abbey close, – even though it has three crossing points it only has one operating system, so if you’re going “up” the Vineyard on Abbey Close side and want to cross the road to continue your journey by hitting the cross button there you stop ALL the traffic, even that going up and down the vineyard!
    2, not sure if they’ve addressed it but at Coxeter junction the lights approaching it from Ock st were action’d by pressure strips in the road, but was over ridden by radar sensor on top of the lights, problem was it was so sensitive it picked up pedestrians too, so even if there was no traffic there a pedestrian could action it into turning Green which in turn stopped the traffic approaching the junction from town!
    3, as stated, the lights at Stratton way/Vineyard are way out of sync?
    4, there are too many traffic light controlled crossings, hence traffic never flows more than 500 meters without the possibility of being stopped.
    5, the pedestrian crossing across Stert st at Broad st was introduced purely to facilitate council staff crossing from council offices to their free spaces in the multi story.
    6, in an exercise with OCC the lights in Bridge st were switched off completely which reduced to a trickle the daily jam over the bridge, but consultants insisted they were turned back on !
    As Daniel said the software “Scoots” is totally inappropriate for Abingdon, its deigned for roads with intersections across the idea being if you hit the first set of lights on green and proceed just below the limit all the other lights will be on green too where as here for instance 25 cars go across the tapes in the Vineyard into Stert st, it then send a message to the lights at ock street that 25 cars are en-route, it doesn’t know 5 cars have gone into the multi story, 6 have gone to Culham and 3 into Bath st so insted of 25 cars arriving at Ock st only 11 do, the system then defaults to a timer option first designed in the 1950’s, so the 11 cars pass through and it sits on green until the timer times out!
    On the subject of pollution when Abits was first introduced Loyds bank was going through a refit and a new upgraded air con system was to be installed, but when the engineers arrived to install they found the air quality outside so poor they couldn’t use it for fear of poisoning staff !

  8. Daniel

    Just to make it absolutely and totally and unequivocally clear; con-sultants advised this;; the Yellow team allowed this to happen whilst on their watch, and we paid for it.

  9. Mr Smith

    Are you telling me that consultants planned this fiasco? I thought Benny Hill fixed our lights after he sorted Turin for the Italian Job.

  10. Julian

    I would love to see ALL traffic lights switched off for a week, just to see what happens. I believe you would find (as in the case of when there are defective lights), that common courtesy would return, with drivers filtering through and allowing others to do the same. I seem to recall this was trialled in Bristol one time, and I would like to know what the outcome was.
    I know, we could pay hundreds of thousands of pounds to some top consultants to suggest it….and then it would be a “Good Idea”.

  11. Badger

    Surely you mean Professor Peach… wholly inappropriate to our PC society nowadays but… he liked ‘em BIG, unlike in the Italian Job Abingdon’s traffic problem will never be rectified and is one BIG time consuming pollution creating mess. There is and will be no solution now all the money goes to other ‘successful’ towns in the area for new Thames bridges and road infrastructure projects etc etc.

    Perhaps a ‘Gridlock Abingdon’ event is called for where everyone gets in their cars and drives around the town centre slowly for hours to bring the whole place to a complete standstill.

  12. Former Abingdonian

    The old one-way system was so much better for traffic flow. It has been a disaster ever since, and don’t get me started on the pointless crossing on Stratton way by Bath Street when the underpass was already there.

  13. ppjs

    I imagine that pedestrians with wheels (not cyclists) who are pushing themselves or who are being pushed by someone else probably find a crossing easier than an underpass with its ascending exit.

    Once rail and river were abandoned for the carriage of goods, the roads were left to carry the ever increasing load. I pity those who have to try and solve the apparently intractable problem of squeezing a quart into a pint bottle.

  14. horsesmouth

    The problem (and there is a huge problem) PPJS is not insurmountable, but it will take a bucketful of common sense and most importantly the will to do the job.
    First thing is to dump the present software (Scoots) and replace it with something like “Mova”?

    Then remove some, just some of the traffic light pedestrian crossings and replace with old fashioned Zebra crossings?
    Remove altogether the lights at the junction of Stratton Way/Vineyard and replace them with a mini round-about.?

    Move the pedestrian crossing at the junction of Vineyard/Abbey Close further along Abbey Close, with railings around the corners to prevent jay Walkers and then make that crossing independent of Vineyard traffic?

    Completely new layout at Coxeter Junction, possible another mini r/about?

    Consider having the Iron Bridge at St Helen’s wharf reverse traffic or two way at peak times?

    remove just one meter of the paving/flower beds outside Tower Drive in Ock St to allow two lanes of about 200 meters long for the approach of Ock St Junction?

    Reverse the priority at junction of Bridge St to High St so traffic from Stert have right of way?

    Have better control of parking, particularly around the Square (war memorial)?

    Employ a traffic warden who can not only issue tickets but can also do point duty (bet that’s a term not many of you recognize?) Traffic control ?
    Of course the pre cursor to Abits was to have had a second river crossing installed prior to Abits, it didn’t happen then and it can’t happen now because successive councils allowed for Morland gardens to be built in its path !

  15. Daniel

    Horsesmouth; what you say all makes perfect sense. However no one will ever take good advice for free, when they can pay a fortune (of tax payers money) for bad advice. There is no profit to be made from good advice.

    I think that MY proposals would be very very much better.

    They will result in an absolutely dire traffic situation; however as a gesture of good will and to show my commitment to the town I will only charge half as much as a consultant would for the bad advice.

    With the traffic still bad and The Veil saving 50% it seems there will be no losers….

  16. ChrisS

    Something that should have been done ages ago: offer the MG Garden another home ( somewhere more peaceful and accessible), build another lane, through the garden from the Drayton road after the Ock bridge, to allow traffic to turn left from Drayton road onto Marcham road. Traffic wanting to go straight on up Spring road or right onto Ock street and to town can do so as at present.

    Two exits from Drayton road would speed traffic through the current busy junction and prevent pollution along Drayton road.

  17. Daniel

    ChrisJ, my understanding, is that, at the time, with the land, the roads, the planning all being the remit of differing teams – yellow team and blue team…rather than get their heads together and come up with a sensible idea like that came a distant second to scoring political points…that’s why that wasn’t done…

    Of course, the facts may be different.

  18. newcomer

    Hmmm … I thought

    ‘remove just one meter of the paving/flower beds outside Tower Drive in Ock St’

    might have tipped Daniel over the edge, but it appears he’s more sanguine about such things nowadays.

    I fear that some politicians will have to admit that they were wrong before the traffic situation is fixed … so that will be sometime never.

  19. Jim

    Re the post 17 from ChrisS – What you describe was suggested a number of years ago – on face of it it made a lot of sense – however upon investigation it was found that the MG garden area was a major junction for lots of services (in particular gas mains) which it turned out would be very expensive/difficult to relocate – if you visit the Gardens you will see a lot of “manhole” covers.

  20. ppjs

    I’ve never understood why the Drayton Road/Marcham Road double mini roundabout isn’t a conventional single roundabout. What am I missing? Probably something blindingly obvious!

  21. Daniel

    Ppjs, the very best town planners and ‘con-sultans’ that money can buy…weren’t available, so we got left with the dregs….and such simple ideas are not welcome unless there’s a profit to be made.

    I think, more generally, we can all agree that the traffic “in Abingdon” needs sorting – whether that be Lodge Hill, or the traffic through town, or the double roundabout debacle; but remember…at a traffic meeting I attended (granted, about 7 or so years ago now), if there were a “money no object wish list of sorting any traffic ‘hot spots’ in all of Oxfordshire”…that Abingdon and it’s traffic woes does not appear on that list.

    It is not on a radar. It is not a blight that needs attention. It is not on any wishlist….

    However…. successive MPs have written a strongly worded emai…so,.all is not lost.

  22. hester

    I try to keep out of the great traffic debates on here because I dont claim any expert knowledge and my opinions are no more valid than anyone else’s! However as a relatively longstanding resident (47 years but I know that doesn’t make me a real Abingdonian!) who lived n South Abingdon in the ’70s and ’80s I remember almost every type of junction being tried there and my impression is that the double roundabout actually works better than most of the others. The real problem is the increased traffic flow – no amount of tweaking of the junction will solve that, although the “jet lane” through the MG garden would help if the infrastructure problems mentioned above could be dealt with.

  23. ppjs

    Thanks, Hester, I appreciate your gentle answer.

    It would be interesting to know how many “near misses” there are at the double-roundabout. There is certainly a good deal of confusion about signalling through the system and yet people do manage to keep safe through a layout which is certainly confusing to first-time users.

    Why do I think it confusing? Because I use the system as a training exercise for people preparing for the advanced driving test administered by the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents. Traffic emerging from Spring Road has a particularly hard task.

    However, as most people have observed, nothing is going to change for the foreseeable future – unless (God forbid) somebody is killed.


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