A UNESCO world heritage site since 1987, Bath is famous for some of Europe’s finest Roman remains and 18th century architecture. The city in the valley of the River Avon is a major tourist attraction. It was founded by the Romans around AD 63 around the only naturally occurring hot springs in the United Kingdom. In 973 Edgar was crowned king of England in Bath Abbey and Queen Elizabeth I granted Bath city status in 1590. During the Georgian era in the 18th century, the city became a popular spa resort, which led to a major expansion and left a rich heritage of exemplary Georgian architecture crafted from Bath stone. Today, tourists are also attracted by a variety of theatres, museums and other cultural and sporting venues. Over one million overnight visitors and 3.8 million day visitors come to the city each year. Bath has two universities and several schools and colleges. The city is the principal centre of the Bath and North East Somerset authority that boasts a population of 170,000. A large service sector, growing information and communication technologies and creative industries provide employment for the population of Bath and the surrounding area.
The city of Bath is concerned about its deteriorating environment, air quality, and poor accessibility to employment and leisure opportunities arising from traffic problems. In 2005, the city developed a “Vision for Bath” that identified transport as one of the principal issues to be addressed because the road system and parking spaces are at full capacity. All-day parking and cutting-through traffic have been identified as particular problems in the city’s transport plan. The World Heritage Site Management Plan 2003-09 set out actions to improve the pedestrian and cycling environment, reduce the impact of heavy goods vehicles and improve public transport options. Additionally, the Bath Package of transport initiatives addresses congestion, dependency on the private car and aims to create the reliable public transport structure needed to encourage regeneration in the city and economic benefits through the attraction of yet more business and tourism.
However, further interventions are necessary to keep pace with the development of the city as part of the “Vision for Bath” and the regional spatial strategy. Within CIVITAS RENAISSANCE, Bath will introduce a number of innovations that will improve technical and behavioural transport issues the city faces. A bike sharing scheme encompassing conventional and powered bikes will be introduced to allow residents and visitors to reach virtually every part of the hilly city. Residents and travellers will find it easier to travel the city with the help of a new way-finding system. New solutions to the public realm will be introduced to make the city centre safer and more secure. The car sharing scheme will expand its service with greener cars, double the size of its fleet and the number of locations. Public transport will turn to greener vehicles, as well. Waiting passengers will receive accurate real-time information about bus arrivals. Moreover, different solutions will reduce the number of heavy goods vehicles entering the city centre and optimise freight transport and delivery. Altogether, the measures of the RENAISSANCE project will improve air quality in Bath and make the city a better place to live and visit.