West Bergholt Traffic Safety – A strategy for improvement
As a result of concerns about the safety of traffic in the village expressed at a recent Parish Council meeting a Group consisting of Parish Councillors, Borough Councillors and village residents has been formed and met several times to consider what actions can be taken to improve safety on our roads in the village. The aim is to produce a plan with a strategy for actions that will be adopted by the Parish Council and lead to residents feeling more safe as they move around the village.
In 2012 to attempt to deal with safety issues, mainly in the area of the school, a Traffic Safety Plan was approved by the Parish Council. After reviewing progress on this plan the Group determined to produce revised proposals to put to the village for consultation.
The 2012 plan is available on the village website but in brief the vision was:
The Parish Council has a vision for the future travel environment in the village where walking and cycling become the preferred modes of travel, that traffic levels and parking do not dominate our village and that the safety of adult and child pedestrians remains paramount.
Current Issues and a Vision for the future
In February 2017 The Traffic Safety Group staged a half-day workshop to engage with village residents and enable them to itemise their safety concerns. Very encouragingly about thirty members of the village attended and not surprisingly their concerns centred around parking and speeding. An analysis of the perceived problems, proposed solutions and priorities has given the Group a clearer understanding of specific areas and issues that need attention.
Taking these findings into account the Group still has as its vision that stated above and adopted by the Parish Council in 2012.
Aims and Objectives of a revised Traffic Safety Plan
The aim of the plan is to ensure that residents can move about the village in safety and be able to access key locations, particularly parents with children on their way to and from school, but also village shops, open spaces and recreational facilities.
The objectives of the plan are to:
- Manage traffic in a way that slows it down, prevents congestion and delays and maximises safety
- Seek ways to encourage safe and legal parking
- Improve all aspects of road safety around Heathlands School and nearby feeder roads.
- Facilitate ease of movement around the village for pedestrians and cyclists
- Maintain ease of access to all focal points of the village.
Since the original plan of 2012 a number of changes have taken place, for example:
- There has been a steady increase of traffic through the village
- More residents are parking on the roads for a variety of reasons
- Increasing numbers of non – West Bergholt residents come to the village to use its facilities
- Parking restrictions are now in place at certain junctions around the shop and the school
- Heathlands Primary School has been enlarged.
- The school is still seen as a key partner in any plan, but other partners now need to be considered, particularly residents who regularly use the website Trygve [Webmaster note – now known as Safeland] to report parking and traffic violations.
- A successful Speedwatch team operates within the village.
A Strategy for the development of the plan
From the start, the Group recognised that there is no magical answer to the issues identified in the Aims and Objectives. An approach based on 5 Es seems a practical way forward:
- E1 Engagement Already a successful workshop has raised awareness. The number of residents using Trygve to report issues has reached over 70
- E2 Encouragement Schemes involving resident making pledges are to be considered. Leaflets encouraging responsible parking are handed out from time to time around the school
- E3 Education The school through its pupils (School Council) is perceived to have a key role to play here and a booklet is to be provided for each new set of parents each year. Banners displayed around the village are designed to educate about legal requirements and to encourage responsible road behaviour.
- E4 Enforcement The Speedwatch team is judged to have had some success but its activities could be extended. Popular opinion suggests that speed limits in and approaching the village need to be reviewed. With many parking violations now recorded on Trygve the frustrations of residents who perceive a lack of enforcement need to be addressed.
- E5 Engineering This is acknowledged as the most difficult part of any strategy to achieve as most is beyond local control. Measures that are to perceived to have a beneficial effect are a restriction on traffic speed throughout the whole village and a raised table in the area of the zebra crossing in Chapel Road.