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:
NB I’m doing this work in the context of the 20sPlenty campaign to create a town-wide 20mph speed limit. Further information on 20sPlenty can be found on the campaign website and on the campaign Facebook page.
These are some first thoughts for how the crossing could be improved.
I’ve started by making some brief observations of how people are currently crossing:
These initial observations indicate that people are crossing along the entire width of the Stone Bridge. A fuller survey would be better but my experience over the last 15 years or so suggests that what I observed here is a common pattern.
Could a design solution allow the existing “desire lines” to be preserved so that people are not diverted onto a narrowed crossing point?
Start with speed reduction: 20sPlenty
Reducing the speed at which people drive would make a difference. As an immediate step, the existing 20mph zone on Tanners Street could be extended by a few metres to include the Westbrook Bridge. At the moment the zone ends at the bottom of Tanners Street. It seems odd that drivers heading west from Tanners Street are given a signal to increase their speed to 30mph at just the point where many pedestrians are currently crossing:
Then narrow the roadway
In a similar vein, it would be helpful to narrow the width of the roadway which, like many of Faversham’s streets, is much wider than necessary. If the roadway is narrowed then it’s quicker for pedestrians to cross and it means that vehicles have to wait less time for them to do so. It’s win win.
Narrowing also creates the impression to drivers that they are driving faster than at the same speed on a wider road. This helps with the self-enforcement of speed limits.
I have looked at three options for narrowing the roadway.
First, a central island:
My concern about a pedestrian island is that it would not be wide enough to comfortably accommodate a buggy or a wheelchair. It would also send a “cars first, pedestrians second” message to road users.
Second, Ive looked at widening the footways on both sides of the road:
Third, I’ve looked at widening on the north side only:
This options seems to have several advantages: a) this is already the narrower of the two footways, b) it would likely be cheaper to adjust just one kerb line than both of them and c) the pedestrian sight lines towards Tanners Street and along West Street are significantly improved, making it easier for people to see vehicles and for vehicles to see them in return.
My view is that it would be best to widen the footway on the north side of the street.
What do you think?
If you use this crossing as a pedestrian then do you think it should be improved and which of the options do you prefer? Is there another way?
If you drive through here then would it make a big difference to your journey if there were a 20mph speed limit and if the roadway were a little narrower?
Download the Westbrook Bridge Crossing report as a .pdf file (6.4MB)
7 thoughts on “Stone Bridge/West Street Pedestrian Crossing”
Use this as a driver and pedestrian. Would make no difference to me if the 20 zone was extended, don’t do more than 20 through there anyway. I like the idea of widening the footpath by stone bridge bungalow, as this is very narrow, I don’t like the planters, think it would cause to much clutter.
Why do you think the only answer to these problems is to smother the place in more concrete and tarmac ? Surely the simple answer is to install a Pelican crossing, which should have been done long ago !!
Thanks for your comment, Steve. To be clear, I’m not proposing to use concrete or tarmac. In fact the opposite. You’ll see I’ve suggested that one option would be to use planters to narrow the roadway: using a green/landscape approach. What’s important about this location is that the road surface has been paved in brick, not tarmac – this is a higher quality of surface than in most parts of Faversham and should definitely not be spoiled with concrete or tarmac.
I think that the challenges with a pelican crossing are a) the cost of installation and b) the justification in terms of pedestrian numbers but I can check this with KCC when I meet with them.
At the very least we need a few speed cameras in the town. I live in Stone St and cars accelerate from Preston St to the junction opposite the Alms Houses at considerable speed, especially if the road appears to be free of other traffic. Recently there was a very serious accident where the one way system merges into Tanner St. I wrote to the council 3years ago about speeding cars and the need for a deterrent to slow them down. The reply I received was to say that as far as they were concerned, everything was working as it should. I suppose as always it will take the death of a pedestrian or child before anything is undertaken to make drivers responsible.
Preston St after hours is another road where drivers appear to think they’re at Silverstone . Much I what you say Tim, I agree with, and what you say is common sense. Unfortunately there are many drivers who, given a 20 mile an hr speed would still exceed the limit. Or perhaps speed humps, but not the ones laid in Whitstable road. Most cars can run over those as if they didn’t exist, as the humps are just the right size to fit perfectly in between the wheels of vehicles. It’s a waste of time, and’ of course tax payers money. I think cameras on those stretches of road, where cars are prone to speeding should most definitely have them. Those that can keep to the limit would have nothing to worry about, but those that can’t should be penalised.
I and a lot of people living in this area have wanted a pelican crossing there for years. I understand that the cost is the thing that is stopping this even being considered. I think an island would be a compromise and would help but isn’t the best solution. If an island was put there would it really not be wide enough for buggies and wheelchairs. I definitely think that the 20mph needs to be extended. My parents live in this area and my children have to cross this road going to school so I am very interested on anything to improve this.
Thanks for your message, Paula. I was looking at the zebra crossing over South Road at West Street. The carriageway here is about 5.4m wide, which gives us a useful precedent. If 5.4m is sufficient to carry two-way traffic including buses and HGVs on South Road then why not at the Westbrook Bridge? This would allow us to narrow the existing 7.2m-wide carriageway down to 5.4m by widening the footway on the northern side of the Westbrook Bridge by 1.8m.