Like trying to boil the ocean, the A2/A251 roundabout is the wrong solution to the wrong need

Another morning spent observing traffic at the junction of The Mall and the A2.

Several characteristics are consistent:

1. schoolchildren were crossing the road by running between gaps in the freely flowing traffic

2. at times there were more people walking than driving along The Mall, mostly schoolchildren

3. traffic was flowing freely through the junction with only one very short period when traffic built up down The Mall, between 0844 and 0846.

Once again, these appear to be normal conditions.

This is not to say that the junction doesn’t have problems. It can indeed be badly congested when there is an abnormal incident such as an accident on the M2 or a temporary closure elsewhere.

If indeed it is the case that the junction generally flows freely – and comments from others support my observations – then the proposed designs are not serving the transport need. They are not helping schoolchildren and other vulnerable road users cross the road.

There is no general traffic congestion need that can be solved by enhancing the capacity of the junction. Nor, given the extreme congestion that can iccur when a local road is blocked, are the proposals going to address abnormal conditions.

Instead the proposals will harm everyday traffic movement by banning turns and sending frustrated drivers on longer journeys down local streets. And they will do nothing for pedestrians or cyclists.

Not unlike trying to boil the ocean, the A2/A251 proposals are the wrong solution to the wrong need.

The reality is that the proposals are not what Faversham needs. Instead, what is needed is support for walking and cycling throughout the town.

Why? Because the future growth of Faversham means that there must be a significant “modal shift” towards walking and cycling rather than more of the same car-focused thinking. Otherwise it is jam today and jam tomorrow.

Air quality and carbon emissions targets should also be pushing policymakers and transport planners in this direction.

Finally, budget constraints mean that lower prices and better value projects need to be pursued.

Walking and cycling projects fit the bill, whether the priority is congestion relief, air quality enhancement, carbon emissions reduction or cost control. A move to a 20mph speed limit will also help more traffic through the junction.

Kent County Council should be responding to the pressing, long-term needs of the town rather than pursuing an impossible quest to solve an intractable problem.

The answers are there but Kent County Council won’t see them until it shifts its mindset away from car-centric thinking.

By writing to oppose the current plans for the A2/A251 junction we can also encourage the change of perspective that is needed:

tro@kent.gov.uk

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