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UK Local Councils

Swepstone Parish Council

Serving the people of Newton Burgoland and Swepstone

: The Clerk

Hello Nicola (Swepstone Parish Council)

In regard to our meeting over traffic safety issues in Swepstone we have had time to evaluate all of the concerns raised and provide the parish and other interested parties our findings on what can ( and cannot) be achieved within the current highway environment. I do apologise for the time it has taken for me to respond.

It was agreed to look into the High entry speeds into Swepstone village from Newton Road, Snarestone Road, Swepstone Road and officers were requested to evaluate ways of decreasing high end speeds and report back on our findings. Recent site visit have been undertaken by council officers to look at the above concerns.

Please note that with the County Councils adoption of the Local Transport Plan (LTP3) all traffic safety requests are now assessed against the county councils LTP3 objectives and are prioritised on a case by case basis.

Currently, all minor safety improvement schemes do have to compete for the limited funding that is available for reactive schemes. This can create longer time scales than previously encountered for minor works to be adopted and for fully third party funding required to deliver such schemes.

FINDINGS

A) To appraise ways to reduce high end vehicle speeds;

While we await the most recent police speed and traffic volume readings, it is fair to assume that entry into Swepstone village can encounter at times some high end speeds when entering the housing locations of Swepstone.

We have looked at several measures available to reduce high end speeds; however there are disbenefits associated with some measures that I will endeavour to explain.

Any measures introduced have to be balanced, and centred towards creating actual reductions to safety records, the improvements have to be acceptable to the majority of residents, and any physical measures have to meet set criteria from The Department for Transport (DFT) Highway Act 1980.

Please note that it is very difficult to retrofit any traffic calming measures that have vertical features attached into an existing highway as often visibility, street lighting and in this instance the narrowness of the highway, limit what can be recommended to be implemented.

We have found with our previous experience, far from solving the safety concerns brought to our attention, they simply create new safety measures or cause damage to the highway, its grass verges and have a detrimental impact onto the street scape of the village.

Examples of a traffic calming measure that we have investigated

1) Priority Give Way

http://www.ukmotorists.com/signs/calming1.jpg

For any physical feature to meet with DfT criteria it is important to follow the acceptable levels of forward visibility and highway widths that are designed to ensure motorists, cyclists, agricultural vehicles have the ability to adjust to the changed environment and do not therefore make manoeuvres that create significant risk to all road users create damage to the highway/verges and impede on farm traffic manoeuvres.

It was difficult to gain locations on any of the three approaches where a priority give way would meet the set DfT criteria. The issues being that where physical measures are introduced then it has to be street lit, the narrowness of the highway we measured to be between 5 to 5.5 metres which is short of the recommended 7 metres width. We have to within its design allow cyclists space ( around 1 metre)on the inside of the island so they don't suddenly swerve into the centre of the road , allow 3.5 metres for a running lane and a 2 metre island to ensure room for the signs to be installed on. If we have a narrow carriageway then damage is created to the edge of the highway which then requires significant work to the highway such as a wider highway and where grass verges are present then a raised kerb edge has to be formed. The cost of such works is around £50,000 per priority give way. One other concern with this type of traffic calming is that two way flow should be consistent in both directions as if this is not the case then motorists do not have to slow down if there is little conflicting traffic movements

2) Speed cushions

While these can be used as an effective way of reducing speeds, they are not an appropriate form of traffic calming for entry speeds as they result in late breaking and a risk to motorists of loss of control accidents. They create significant noise issues for residents (especially night and early morning times) whose properties have house frontages close to the highway. It should be noted that for speed tables to be effective they need to be placed around 120 metres and have street lighting on at all times.

3) Gateway Treatment

The attached drawing(s) shows you how gateway treatment can be introduced into Swepstone. They consist of road markings and can be supplemented with a gate with the village name on with the speed limit or other message s such as please drive carefully on . They are generally introduced at the start of the 30mph speed limit changes. The Road markings 'sharks teeth' are implemented along with a 30mph roundel that signifies to motorist there is a change to the environment. The gates with village names on require grass verge width generally around 2 to 2.5 metres in width dependent on the size of the gate. An agreement is also attached that accompanies what responsibilities the parishes have for such a feature. A reduction in high end speeds is anticipated with such road markings/gates.

4) Vehicle Activated Signs

VAS Signs canbe a good way of warning motorists whatspeeds they are travelling at before they enter the changed environment. Whilst they are initially effective in reducing speeds, if they are kept at the same location, motorists who are used to the environment, the signs become less effective as motorists soon revert back to a speed they feel is safe.

It is not easy to influence motorists who are familiar with their surroundings. With VAS signs becoming more prevalent throughout the county, it also dilutes the effectiveness of areas such as around school gates when school activity is high. The type of sign is reliant on if street lighting is present , the size of the signs and what if any message you may wish to convey.

Vehicle activated sign - Slow Down

5) Conclusions;

Firstly we acknowledge that out highway corridors are not always of sufficient width to accommodate all of the transport demands around traffic calming features, we do try constantly to balance the risks associated with travel and speeding traffic into village settings.

In such areas where high end speeds are being encountered, we do look to work closely with our key stakeholders on any proposed changes, and this response to the parish has explored options on types of transport improvement schemes that could possibly be used to reduce the risk to road safety and improve quality of life for residents. As stated we are bound by DfT guidance, especially on highway widths, street lighting on the type of traffic calming that can be introduced.

We therefore conclude that after looking at all of the available options, we could not recommend a priority Give Way or traffic cushions as a safe and appropriate form of traffic calming on the three roads that approach Swepstone.

Apart from very significant costs attached we also consider that a risk of loss of control accidents and vehicles colliding with the raised features of a priority Give Way due to the lack of street lighting as prescribed by DfT guidelines, are likely to contribute to increases in accident rates.

The VAS signs are currently not funded by Leicestershire County Council and any implementation of these signs unfortunately has to be self-funded. They can be costly to install if a power source is not close to the location best suited to alert drivers of their speeds, and while solar powered VAS signs are available, they do have a high cost attached around £6,000 each and on-going maintenance costs.

The Gateway road marking treatment and associated gates and village name plates if accepted by the Parish could be implemented in the near future. This treatment has benefits in lowering entry speeds into village settings, however we appreciate that we would need key support from the parish and local residents before this would be implemented as not all could consider this to be enough of a traffic calming measure as to reduce speeds and the street scape could be lessened with its associated road markings.

COSTINGS

Treatment

Estimated Cost

Comments

Speed Cushions

£ 25,200 ( per street)

Not Recommended. To be effective and to meet guidance from DfT 3 sets would need to be installed on each approach and street lighting present

Priority Give Way

£ 46,000 ( per street)

Not Recommended. Difficulties with location that meets DfT guidance without significant road realignment and increased road width. Two way traffic flow not at recommended levels

VAS Signs

£ 10,000 to £15,000

New VAS signs vary in price dependant on message, street – lighting. More effective around schools than entry speeds into villages

Gateway Treatment

£1, 750 Road markings Gates and Signs £350 per gate

Recommended solution to fit existing highway corridors.

I hope we have covered what the parish requested during our meetings, I am aware that you may still like to discuss further a relocation of the speed limit on Swepstone Lane and issues on Main Street , and We look forward to your views on the traffic safety review for the identified areas of Swepstone and I look forward to discussing our findings and your views in the near future.

Kind Regards

On behalf of County Highways