Saturday, October 3, 2009

Mill Road safety scheme consultation closed

The consultation period for a proposed £400,000 safety scheme for Mill Road is now over. Coleridge Conservatives participated in the consultation and now await the report that will be drawn up for the Area Joint Committee (joint transport committee of city and county councils) to consider in January.

As we noted previously, systematic speed analysis on this road suggests that speeds are already kept low. Accident records obtained by Coleridge Conservatives also seem to confirm anecdotal evidence that the real dangers on the road are at junctions.

It is not clear how any of the measures in the proposed scheme would reduce incidents of cars pulling into Mill Road without noticing cyclists already on the road. Yet the costs of the plan are high at £400,000 and humps in the road are really going to annoy not just car drivers, but also cyclists; they will no doubt also encourage cyclists to hug the kerb instead of cycling in a safer defensive position into the carriageway, while car drivers may be tempted to drive in the middle of the road between the humps. (And it would be a terrible shame for the lovely new road surface to be ruined in this way - it is now a pleasure to cycle along!)

We really need a more thorough analysis of what the actual problems are if we are to come up with an economical solution that we can have confidence will actually make a positive difference, and preferrably without annoying all classes of road user simultaneously.

When I attended the exhibition at St Barnabas Church in September I noticed that the sign-in form had columns to tick for Romsey, Petersfield and 'other' residents. This suggests that the consultation, including official flyers to notify people of the consultation, was aimed predominantly at Romsey and Petersfield residents and not other city residents, such as in Coleridge, who have a big interest in this important road. (Although we of course publicised the consultation in our August newsletter.) I think we should therefore expect conclusions to be skewed heavily towards the views of the residents around the road itself, who are less likely to own or need a car themselves. We shall be making this point to the relevant people.

Here are some of the ideas that Coleridge Conservatives think should be considered:

1. Do a proper analysis of why accidents are happening and work out what could be done to fix the situation. (Rather than dogmatically assuming that speed is the cause and annoying drivers the answer.)

2. Proper police enforcement of cyclists being unlit at night (currently no effective enforcement at all undertaken and huge numbers of cyclists are unlit),

3. Driver education relating to junctions, along with analysis of why cyclists are so hard to spot.

4. Look at delivery arrangements e.g. whether side streets can be used to cut down on the amount of delivery from the road.

5. Ban overtaking anywhere on the railway bridge.

6. Consider marking advisory cycle lanes in the middle of the two lanes so that cyclists are encouraged to ride in a position that makes them prominent and discourages unsafe overtaking, such as in the tunnel at Heathrow airport.

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