All posts by Tim Stonor

Architect & Town Planner | Managing Director, Space Syntax Limited | Visiting Professor, University College London | Director, The Academy of Urbanism | Fellow, Royal Society of Arts | Resident of Faversham

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.
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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

KCC approves 20mph in Faversham? Don’t celebrate yet…

I think we need to be very cautious about this announcement.

It talks about “many of the roads” not “all of the streets”.

It says they “may be suitable” not “are suitable”.

It says no 20mph on the A2. The A2 is possibly the one place where 20mph should be introduced asap, at the junction of The Mall and the Ashford Road, to alleviate congestion there.

It says only 20mph in “appropriate parts of Faversham”. A piecemeal approach is not what we have been campaigning for. Piecemeal is the wrong approach. We’ve covered the arguments for this before so I won’t go into them now.

It says KCC won’t fund this – what does that say about their commitment to the health and safety of vulnerable road users.

In my view this is no time to celebrate. Instead, it’s time to push back and demand an explanation for KCC’s reasoning.
KCC’s email

KCC have reviewed the proposal, as made by Faversham Town Council working in conjunction with the ‘20s Plenty’ group.

In principle many of the roads, which fall within the Faversham town boundary, are potentially suitable for the introduction of a 20mph speed limit; the A2 would not be suitable.

Kent County Council are happy to support Faversham Town Council in their taking this proposal forward, through KCC providing advice and guidance, in order that Faversham Town Council may be able to implement 20mph zones in appropriate parts of Faversham.

KCC would not be looking to fund this scheme at this time.