Traffic on our roads: What’s to be done?

DSC03618 (NXPowerLite Copy)(1)As part of the Action Plan for Brightling, the parish council is investigating best practice in reducing the risk and damage from traffic on our village and rural roads. We would like to convene a small team of residents to help with this work.

At the end of last year a survey was conducted in Brightling, asking parishioners to write in their own words what they most value about our village and parish, as well as their top concerns, and their ideas for addressing those concerns.

Top of the list of perceived threats to the rural character of Brightling was traffic, both cars (growing numbers, driving at speed) and lorries (size and number). Traffic was seen as a threat to tranquillity, a hazard to walkers, cyclists and horse riders (‘an accident waiting to happen’), and damaging to our narrow lanes and verges. Traffic volume was perceived to have increased significantly.

Some quotes from the Brightling Survey:

  • “Traffic drives too fast for number of horses, walkers..”
  • “Traffic using village as a short cut”
  • “There is not a speed restriction once you have left Robertsbridge along Brightling Road. It is difficult to walk along this road without having to jump into side to avoid being hit by speeding cars.”
  • “There is now so much traffic on our country roads that were not designed for it. Damage to the roads, the verges, and a danger to other road users”
  • “The traffic and lorries on the road.  Speeding cars — short-cut takers. Walkers and horses are at risk”
  •  “Movement of heavy traffic through the village”

The survey generated a large number of ideas on speed limits or other traffic calming or restriction measures. We are all familiar with the flashing speed signs and road markings in our area. But there is conflicting evidence on what actually works. A SUSTRANS report  on rural traffic calming points out that things may actually be improved on village roads by the removal of signs and road markings, because in makes drivers uncertain and therefore more careful: “Initial results have shown that where rural roads have been redesigned to appear more like the country lanes they once were, motorists may adjust their driving behaviour accordingly.” This excellent report from Hamilton-Baillie provides some inspiring examples.

As part of the Action Plan for Brightling, the parish councillors have given ourselves until early next year to investigate best practice in reducing the risk and damage from traffic on our village and rural roads. There are a large number of questions to tackle. What are the causes of extra traffic: travelling to and from the village, or through traffic?? What’s presenting the most damage and risk: cars, vans or lorries? Numbers or speed? Should we be removing or adding signage? Should some of our roads be off limits to HGVs? Should we seek designation of some roads as “Quiet Lanes”? Should we be advocating for a narrowing of roads? Many other rural communities are facing similar problems — what are the lessons from villages that have succeeded in traffic reduction or calming when faced with these challenges?

We have an open mind, but are working on the principle that Brightling is a mixed economy, and our recommendations should support local businesses and farms that rely on transport, as well as pedestrians, horse riders and cyclists.

Our findings and recommendations will be presented to the 2017 Parish Assembly.

We would like to convene a small team of residents to help with this work. Please contact one of us if you are interested. We would also be open to conducting this jointly with our neighbouring communities reached by The Messenger.

Thank you.

Bill Vorley    01424 838681

Chris French 01424 838271

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