Emerging from a meeting at the Pump Room this week we became embroiled in the maelstrom that is peak holiday period Bath. From the inexorable marching of endless columns of foreign language students to the dawdling knots of lost Japanese tourists, not to mention mum, dad, the kids and gran all arguing as to which gets priority, the Roman Baths or New Look, an impenetrable barrier is set up , thwarting those good citizens who simply want to go about their everyday business.
Now the council has come up with a scheme that should alleviate this problem. On a recent junket at the Olympic Park, city representatives were proudly shown the plans for the special traffic lanes that are to be created throughout London so that mini-buses carrying athletes and officials can be rushed from site to site. Such priority express lanes were regarded as one of the most successful innovations to come out of Soviet Russia, they were told, so why not use the system over here?
Armed with this information, the city officers returned to Bath and immediately set about adapting the system to suit the particular problems here.
And so the Bath Residents Express Walkway System (BREWS) has come about. Any day now, council workmen will start painting lines on the pavements between which only bona fide Bathonians will be able to walk. You simply swipe your Resident’s Discovery Card at the start of your walk and off you stride at a steady pace, unimpeded by the seething tourist throng around you.
The routes will be patrolled by Walkway Wardens and non-residents can expect heavy fines for impinging on ‘our’ pathways. Rather like the existing bus gate, the fines for transgressing the rules will prove to be an important source of income for the city.
Of course, the scheme already has its detractors. Members of the Bath Whingeing Society have been quick to point out that the lanes are too narrow and that if two portly pedestrians come from different directions on a busy section gridlock could occur. Some say that simply issuing residents with cattle prods would be just as effective and far cheaper.
I for one can’t wait to try the new system out!