The Challenges of Modern Traffic and Rural Living

By Fiona Macnab

Late August Bank holiday weekend was mixed weather weekend, so Sunday wasn’t the usual – sit on the deck chair and don’t move from the garden all day.  I was therefore slow to notice the kerfuffle on the Twelve Oaks village green triangle.

A rather shocked motorcyclist and shaken driver of a small horse box were outside the gate.

Avoiding legal actions by both parties (!), it would appear one party didn’t realise that the road from Cackle Street went left and not straight, leading to a meeting in the middle of the road.

The incident was severe enough to cause a couple of large gouges in the asphalt.  The whole incident could have been a whole heap worse, but thankfully, all parties were just shaken.  This adds to another Sunday morning  when a white van driver kindly stopped to yell at one of our guests trying to exit our drive.

I’m therefore rather incentivised to offer my services to the Brightling Traffic Team, which had its first meeting last weekend in Bill and Siew Lee Vorley’s wonderful garden.

Stoked with coffee and Siew-Lee’s stupendous courgette cake – the discussions began.

First off, everyone explained their motivations for wanting to be on the committee.  It became very clear that similar or worse experiences were the key motivations.

It was also interesting that most participants, were from the satellite hamlets of the parish which we thought may not be just a coincidence.

It is also fantastic that on the team is a Dallington representative where similar challenges are being experienced.  We all agreed that the more joined-up our villages can be, the stronger our influence could be make positive changes that suit as many as possible.

The discussion was varied as we scoped out the importance of keeping our roads flowing for our local economy which varies from dog walkers and cyclists to horse boxes and working modern agricultural equipment.

One thing that was consistent and persistent from all – the rural feel is essential to maintain. No one wants urban metal signs, flashing neon or jolting road bumps.

In preparation for the meeting, we’d read much of the work done by www.hamilton-baillie.co.uk. Hamilton Baillie has done already some amazing projects around the country, both urban and rural.

They have worked on rural projects particularly in Dorset, but also across Sussex.  Take it look – it’s fascinating.  It really ‘bats into touch’ the theory that signs and lines are the answer, a super constructive starting point for the team.

One of the many observations was that our ‘green-triangles’ are looking very worn.  Now the finger posts are looking so spruce, it seems like an easy win to try and spruce them up.  Bright countryside flowers also could enhance driver awareness.  One idea was to add it to the council’s ‘Adopt a’ scheme – ‘Adopt a green triangle’

Next we’re off to do as much research as possible  – so please send us any thoughts and anecdotes on your experiences and where you think the problems are. The more info we get from everyone, the more likely we will do something right.

Our key struggle is, the awareness that sadly it will be impossible to please everyone – however much we want to.   We will try, but hope that we can at least do something to abate the speed and volume of traffic around the villages for the enjoyment and safety of everyone.

For all feedback – please contact Bill Vorley bill.vorley@iied.org

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