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Is cross-border traffic a coronavirus risk?

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With coronavirus an infection charges falling in Scotland, is it doable that new circumstances might be imported from elements of England the place the virus remains to be extra of a downside?

The Scottish authorities has warned about a common rise in traffic despite lockdown.

However is cross-border traffic a vital threat?

Presumably one of the best ways to find out that is to take a look at the info compiled by automated traffic counters.

Transport Scotland presently operates almost 80 of those throughout Scotland – albeit with none within the Western Isles, Shetland or Orkney.

So whereas there aren’t counters on each trunk street – together with the A74 from Gretna Inexperienced – the info does at the very least give us attention-grabbing perception.

It additionally arguably provides us a higher image than the restricted mobility data released by Google.

Immediately we are able to see that there are solely seven counters on the roads in Dumfries and Galloway, and the Scottish Borders – the councils touching the English border.

The busiest of those counters close to the border was on the A1 close to Burnmouth (7,202 “trips”). This might be doubtlessly as a consequence of Scottish or English residents commuting to/from Edinburgh and Berwick-Upon-Tweed.

The second busiest border street was the A701 close to Locharbriggs with 5,740 “trips” recorded. Once more, this might be all the way down to commuters to Dumfries, or presumably drivers utilizing the street as an alternative choice to the M6 from England?

Nevertheless, this does not inform us which monitored border street has seen the largest enhance over time.

If we examine traffic between 27 March and 5 June we see the most important enhance (73%) in lockdown traffic was truly on the A1 close to Eyemouth.

To this point this image would seem to verify that not solely are Scotland’s border roads getting busier, however that there might be some legitimacy to considerations over coronavirus being unfold north.

An article in The Times said “there were 282 deaths in northwest England in the final week of May…the highest in the UK”.

However the alarming headline about hundreds of individuals driving north from areas of elevated an infection charges is slightly disingenuous.

Firstly, definitely Transport Scotland’s counters are widespread, and never on all main roads coming into the nation.

Secondly, there isn’t any method of realizing whether or not these are English residents travelling into Scotland – these might fairly simply be Scottish residents out for a scenic drive on the A1.

Thirdly, traffic has elevated considerably extra elsewhere in Scotland.

In contrast with the monitored roads in Dumfries and the Scottish Borders, traffic numbers are far larger throughout the central belt.

The Metropolis of Edinburgh bypass (A720) carried 46,463 automobiles on 5 June.

And the counter on the M8 close to Claylands counted 42,757 journeys.

However once more, a higher metric to take a look at isn’t the full variety of journeys, however slightly the general enhance in traffic.

This paints a totally different image of the place traffic has elevated considerably – and it isn’t the border roads or Edinburgh roads.

Traffic on the A77 close to Ayr has skyrocketed by 233% between 27 March and 5 June with a rise of 12,000 day by day journeys.

This might be all the way down to elevated traffic to Prestwick airport, Ayr seashore, or folks going for a scenic coastal drive.

Traffic on the B924 additionally jumped by 118% – presumably as a consequence of its proximity to the Queensferry Crossing Bridge.

The A84 close to Doune, and Stirling fortress, noticed a rise of 103% in traffic – a rise of almost 3,000 journeys.

And journeys on the A82 by Loch Lomond have jumped by 91%, presumably as a consequence of crowds swarming to the popular beauty spot final weekend.

However is that this enhance in traffic a latest pattern with the lockdown restrictions having simply been eased?

Sadly, the info exhibits that traffic was already growing weeks earlier than First Minister Nicola Sturgeon formally introduced the beginning of section one on 28 Might.

We are able to see this regular enhance by wanting on the 10 roads with the most important will increase total since 27 March.

The biggest spikes occurred on 28 Might – presumably with folks having fun with their new-found freedom.

Nevertheless, we are able to see that peaks of exercise sometimes happen on weekdays – suggesting extra folks could also be returning to their workplaces already.

And the troughs appear to almost all the time fall on Sundays.

So whereas the rise in traffic is growing, primarily based on this information there appears little proof to again up any fears that coronavirus is being unfold from elements of northern England which have a larger an infection price.


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