Post prompted by a case in my local area where a boy was killed by a driver on Sherborn Crescent Poole recently. I’ve been thinking about this area all day and this is a users perspective. Canford Heath in the north of Poole contains Magna Academy Secondary, Haymoor and Canford Heath Middle schools, all places that I’ve taught Bikeability over the last 7 years, to many groups. Spent many hours on the roads with groups of children on bikes at mainly after school hours when most courses take place. A very unfortunate set of circumstances mean that after this childs death there have been 3,083 people from the area signing petitions to slow the road down, calling for Poole Borough Council or to deal with dangerous drivers. Tonight the Thursday 16th Borough of Poole will hold a meeting about this incident as part of the regular Transport Advisory Group meetings. This group consists of local Councillors and Council Staff, they differ widely in approach. KSI’s Killed Seriously Injured incidences on this street are reported to be low, these stats are what prompts measured to be taken to eliminate incidents, the way they are treated vary widely. The amount of deaths on the road caused by drivers, humans seems to be a background, what causes this myopia? While symptomatic of incidents all over Britain this post is focused on the area and its actual conditions and road use. I will here outline the way the area behaves as related to road users.
Canford Heath Estates.
Look at the map excerpt, Roads marked in black are the arterial roads that feed the neighbourhood. Adastral road bisects the whole estate with an off road cycle track running alongside it, with entrances into all the residential streets. Users coming off the arterial roads at peak times travel at about 10-15 MPH around Adastral road, with the local shops pedestrian crossings slowing this down further. I’ve marked the green spaces with Green pen, theres the line of the original Darbys lane the original North south road, at its Northern end It becomes Longfleet Drive Footpath locally known as the Yellow Brick road, taking you onto Canford Heath itself a local nature reserve and protected area. All pleasant riding areas. Many local journeys between home and schools are 1 or 1.5 miles long, at peak times taking 20-25 minutes in traffic and very congested at the school zones. Travelling North from say the juniors school some users are also going into the supermarket just over the roundabout by Culliford Crescent on the North Estate. Drivers going into Sherborne Crescent will have been queuing, when entering the road which is a winding road with short sight lines, they will be keen to accelerate into the space. Think about it, when you’ve been queuing in a motor, the first thing you do when seeing a space ahead is accelerate, totally normal behaviour. Now when there are short sections of visibility, if the next space is also clear, drivers are likely to keep accelerating. On wide Bournemouth avenues in contrast long sight lines appear ahead, the need to accelerate isn’t as strong, you can see where you’re going easily. Unless users in Sherborn Crescent are rat running- i.e using the road to exit onto Canford Heath road they are likely going home. I believe the whole residential area inside Sherborn should be 20MPH restricted to slow down drivers. If there is evidence that rat-running is occurring that would support this proposal. More radical would be to provide Pedestrian crossings, speed humps or other designs. There is a 20 MPH zone in Yeatminster road which is only 2 streets- unsure why such a tiny area of what is in effect a whole residential estate. Most journeys around here are local.
TAG will debate the speed limit tonight, and they will be drawing on the KSI data to inform their decision about what can be done. This is typical decision making by Local Authorities, not based on what happens on the actual roads on a daily basis. As we have seen so many times, if the limit is 70, people drive at 80, if it is 20, they drive at 30. Somehow this is taken as normal, common myopia.
Even more radical ideas in the wider context of this area. I was reminded of this brilliant post by Mark Treasure about the way our streets are built for travel. Look again at the streets, say I lived on Chalbury Close for example marked in Red. My distance to take my child to Junior school is 1.5 miles by Adastral road in the car. Or its 1.5 miles on foot, bike or scooter past Haymoor School and through the Green space into the back entrance of the school. Better for everyone there surely, 1.5 miles through a park? Less traffic, more activity, enjoyment of open space and healthier residents. If the possibility of going into Sherborn Crescent by Magna academy was taken away for vehicles, i.e the road stopped up, the distance by road would be 2 miles, that much further. This is the way that making the car journey choice longer could encourage people to travel actively, the way that European countries use in many cases, yet not always efficient in U.K
Or, take away the ‘BUTs’
But only thing is that the surface of the tracks in green space is rough gravel, but its no good for the push chair. Also theres no street lights but it might be scary to some after dark. If these things were changed, quality surfaces, lighting and offered people would be more likely to use that route. People are habituated to their environment so if they perceive back routes to be dangerous they will continue to choose the queuing option in the car. People will keep doing what they are led to believe is normal, ie. queuing and being inactive unless they are provided with enough evidence to do otherwise. I imagine TAG will come up with something this evening, something that wont be consciously slowing down traffic and providing better routes for Active Travel, but something. I will be interested to see what. Unfortunate that Councils in thrall to motor traffic still in 2017 are myopic about building and making changes to this, re-acting rather than foward planning. When we have a good Bikeability course at CH Juniors I’ve taken them around this off road trail to Darbys Lane North back to school, on the dirt trail there’s small hills, whoops of delight and enjoyment about being away from the normal routes- in places that they aren’t allowed to go alone. So close to home yet miles away in their awareness. This is only what I can do by leading by example. Have been recently advising Poole and Bournemouth Boroughs on ‘Easy wins’ for cycling routes, just by making bi-directional tracks on the Red lines on this map would be a good start to providing commuter cyclists better options than the 1970s existing tracks. Upgrade!! We have a great deal already here so make the best of what you’ve got. I welcome your comments.