Scalextrics go back in the box

Notes for my presentation to Swale’s Joint Transportation Board, 24th June 2019

Thank you, Chair and good afternoon, everyone. My name is Tim Stonor and I’m a resident of Faversham. I also design streets and traffic junctions for a living.

I wish to speak about Agenda item 11 regarding the update on designs for the junction of the A2 and A251 in Faversham. Several of the designs that have been under consideration are for very large roundabouts and one is for traffic signals.

The officer’s recommendation is to progress with the traffic lights option. I think this is sensible and, although I speak in a personal capacity, I know my views are shared elsewhere in Faversham and may even be echoed in this room. I’m looking specifically at Mr Whiting, who spoke very well last week at an event in Faversham on the future of transport across the town and heard the views of a packed room against the roundabout options.

I’d like to make two requests:

First, that for the sake of clarity, that if the JTB follows officers recommendations to progress the traffic lights that it confirms that the roundabout proposals will be abandoned. Maybe it’s just me but the briefing paper seems a little vague on this.

Roundabouts are entirely out of place in a town that, as you are about to hear from Amanda Russell under Agenda item 13, is working so hard to encourage people to walk.

Roundabouts send an inconsistent message, and not least on a street that, as a result of development along its southern edge, is moving from being an edge of town street to a street that runs through the centre of the town.

Second, that in following the officers’ recommendation and progressing the traffic signals design, that great care is taken to design the junction for pedestrians and cyclists as well as vehicles.

I’m sorry to say that, as the designs stands at present, there is very little in them for pedestrians.

The single, staggered pedestrian junction is of a design that should be consigned to the 20th century.

As the designs progress, can I encourage KCC officers to work with Swale Borough Council‘s own urban designer. And, in addition, with the urban designers acting for the Duchy of Cornwall, as well as with those of us looking at a crossing outside the Abbey School and along Forbes Road.

Indeed we are considering holding a design workshop to consider the future of the A2 as it runs through Faversham. Is this something the JTB would, in principle, wish to support and to participate in?

Major junction design is never simple but, with care, it is possible to balance the needs of all transport modes: vehicles, cycles and pedestrians.

Thank you for your attention.

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Stone Bridge Pedestrian Crossing – road damage creates an opportunity to act

When the Friends of the Westbrook & Stonebridge Pond were working in the Westbrook on Sunday we noticed that there is an area of the road surface on the Stone Bridge that is significantly depressed. I’ve circled it in this image:
Since this will need to be repaired, it occurred to me that we could take the opportunity to implement the footway widening/roadway narrowing work that I’ve proposed in a previous post. This work could even be done on a temporary basis and it would allow us to study whether a permanent solution would work or not.
The depressed area is close enough to the existing kerb that it would, I think, be entirely within the area that would be taken up by a widened footway on the north side of West Street:
What I noticed on Sunday and again when I stood there this morning, is that a widened footway in this location gives pedestrians much better sight lines both south east towards vehicles approaching from Tanners Street and, especially, west down the length of Dark Hill/West Street.
Since it may be that the depression has been created by the gradual collapse of the historic bridge, then taking this area away from the heavy, breaking loading of vehicles may simply be a good idea in itself.
It would be a shame for public money to be spent on a repair that could likely be reduced in cost through an alternative approach.

A roundabout for the A2/A251 junction. Really?

Are Faversham Town Council and Swale Borough Council opposing the A2 roundabout? I believe they should be. The roundabout was a bad idea 3 years ago and it is an even worse idea today:

First, in the past 3 years we have seen the 20sPlenty campaign persuade the JTB of the merits of a pedestrian-friendly approach in Faversham. A roundabout is entirely contradictory to this approach. How could the JTB possibly approve a roundabout and remain credible?

Second, in the same period we have also seen how there will be considerable development south of the A2 that risks being detrimentally disconnected from the existing town unless strong pedestrian connections are made. A roundabout is therefore inconsistent with the social and economic interests of the town.

Third, the cost of the roundabout is enormous in comparison with the cost of implementing other road safety improvements that would create greater benefits for the town. The roundabout was costed at “at least” half a million pounds, which is around 100 times the cost of implementing a 20mph limit. Yes, 100 times!

When things go wrong on the motorway then whether the A2/A251 junction is designed as a roundabout, lights or – my favourite – a 20mph limit through the junction, it won’t make a blind bit of difference. What therefore matters is what the junction is like in between times. Is it designed as an expensive, land-grabbing machine for moving cars and suppressing pedestrian and cycling activity, or is it designed as a slow-movement, pedestrian and cycle-friendly piece of in-town public realm?

I think it may be time to get very upset with KCC.

Image

My design for a major junction in central London that balances high volume vehicle movements with high volume pedestrian & cycle activity.

How should Faversham grow?

Faversham has a once in a multi-generational opportunity to replan its strategic infrastructure. At present the majority of industries generating large vehicle movements are located to the north and west of the town whereas the transport connections they rely on are to the south and east of the town. It isn’t possible to build major transport infrastructure in the north and west of the town because that would damage the natural and historic fabric. So the logical conclusion is to move the large-vehicle-generating industries to the south and east of the town. This does not mean depleting the north and west of the town of employment; far from it – industry is changing and new skilled jobs are emerging. We need to anticipate this change, plan for it and make it happen. We certainly need new buildings and new streets but we also need new training programs. And we may also need new leaders to make this happen…

“There are those that look at things the way they are, and ask why? I dream of things that never were, and ask why not?”

George Bernard Shaw

Faversham’s “Pedestrian Zone” is in fact a car parking free-for-all

This is Faversham’s Pedestrian Zone. Filled with cars. Since Faversham Town Council painted #YellowLines around the historic Guildhall, parking officers – by their own admission – no longer consider the PZ valid & won’t ticket anyone parking there.

This is a scandal & the Council should apologise. Until @favershamtc takes a comprehensive look at town centre parking it is doing more damage than good. I predict someone will suggest yellow lines are the answer. No: planters, bollards, benches, gates & a #TransportPlan are!

Stone Bridge/West Street Pedestrian Crossing

I have offered to help Cllr Antony Hook investigate ways of improving the crossing of West Street at the Stone Bridge: the bridge that spans across the Westbrook at the bottom of Tanners Street. He is responding to a number of approaches from people concerned that crossing at this point is unsafe for pedestrians. It’s a highly used crossing point for people walking to and from the town centre. It’s heavily used by schoolchildren, including many young children walking to Davington School:

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Continue reading Stone Bridge/West Street Pedestrian Crossing

Yellow lines tell us no more than we already know

I’ve spent a good deal of time looking into the issue of parking in Faversham’s town centre, first of all campaigning against the proposal to paint yellow lines and then working as a member of the Public Realm Group.

What I understand is that the yellow lines were painted to distinguish between a) where there would be room to park in the evening (single yellow line) and b) where there wouldn’t be (double yellow lines). The view was taken that people wouldn’t be able to judge this for themselves. I don’t agree that people can’t judge for themselves – especially when the consequence is that the public realm of the town is defaced with yellow paint, a public realm that I used to speak about in conference presentations around the world as being rare, remarkable and beautiful for having no road markings.

But this is the view that was taken. And it fits a pattern. For about a century, traffic engineers have thought that they know better than road users, hence guardrailing that stops people crossing roads where they want to and endless signage that tells people things they either know already or didn’t ever need to know.

Anyone can check the logic of the yellow lines for themselves. If you walk around the town centre you can see that the double lines are painted where the road is narrow and the single lines are painted where it’s wide. The yellow lines tell us no more than what we can already see for ourselves. Continue reading Yellow lines tell us no more than we already know

Faversham resident & campaigner. Architect & Urban Planner.