St Athan Village Proposed Traffic Solution

David Elston's picture

The number one killer of young people (defined as 15-29 year olds) in the world is road related deaths.
In the UK there were 1730 traffic deaths in 2015[1]. There is often more than one contributing factor, however it is claimed 90%[2] to 95%[3] of the time driver error was one of the contributing factors. While the data available does not give us a precise number of how many definitely included driver error, we can see an overwhelming majority of the time that a contributing factor is driver error[4].
Driver failed to look properly and driver/rider failed to judge other person's path of speed are the highest contributors by a considerable margin and issues relating to speed are secondary, while other issues trail behind considerably.
St. Athan is a mixture of both rural and built up areas, with no nearby motorway. It has been found that 72% of accidents happen in towns, putting St. Athan in the highest risk demographic. A counterpoint is that we're also quite rural, which should dilute that figure some-what, and I agree a much lower, 23% of accidents happen in rural areas (the remaining 5% are on motorways), however of that 23% rural figure, 44% result in death as there is not often anyone around to call for the emergency services, giving St. Athan the worst combination of conditions.
The specific problem to this stretch of road in St Athan, between Gilestone Road just prior to Glyndwr Avenue junction and around the juncton to Rectory Drive is two pronged:
1) Firstly while the crossing near East Camp is on a well lit, straight road with good visibility and pavement separated from the road in most places, the crossing in the village end has a quite different environment. The road is curved, reducing visibility and often traffic is obstructed by cars parked on Gilestone Road, causing a bottle neck and volume issue, which naturally further contributes to poor visibility. Additionally cars continue to park on the white crossing zig zag areas, both commercial delivery vans, including post office delivery/collections and the general public, which, again further reduces visibility.
2) Secondly Gilestone Road regularly has complaints of people travelling too fast, however residents inform me they are told by the police that the vehicles are in fact travelling within the speed limit. Evidently this means the speed limit is considered too high by the local residents. Given the high risk statistics above, I believe there is a case for lowering the limit.
There are three possible proposals to fix the situation, none of which are particularly radical or unique.
1) Firstly we can seek to increase the visibility. Double yellow lines along Gilestone Road would prevent this through road from being obstructed as it currently is. There are many side streets with areas for parking and most residents have a private driveway, and there may be capacity to negotiate parking spaces from the land adjacent Gileston Road houses. At a drive-by evaluation, the use of the farm land would not be affected to make spaces for the small number of neighbouring homes. We can also request the local post office instruct delivery drivers not to park on the white zig zags in order to drop off parcels and alert the police to the area requiring enforcement.
2) Secondly 20 mph zones are popular at junctions, crossings, schools, in high risk areas or where there are pedestrians, much of which describes the situation on Gilestone Road. Much wider areas such as Broadlands in Bridgend and the entire Bristol City centre have been deemed 20 zones with fewer boxes checked.
Typically 20 mph zones carry a self-enforcing element, where speed-bumps or other traffic calming measures are used however there has been some discontent expressed from residents about speed bumps. It is also said the road is not permitted to have speed bumps as it is a through-road.
In any case, I feel it is not feasible to use road-bumps with the degree of traffic, including public transport along this particular stretch to self-enforce the 20 zone, another means of traffic calming may be suitable but failing that, some areas can be exempt from having any means of traffic calming and simply include a 20 mph terminal.
Should that still not be achievable, I would support the use of 20 mph advisory limit signs. This would mean speed camera enforcement would not be possible against drivers travelling over 20mph but those drivers would still be encouraged to slow down and they may still be prosecuted for Driving Without Due Care and Attention.
For clarity at 30 mph there is a 7% chance of death but at 20mph, this reduces right down to 1%, which is a 86% decrease. I believe that reducing the chance of death by 86% is worth serious consideration.
However, this approach does need to abide by the 85th percentile speed rule for setting local speed limits[5] or have some mitigating circumstance; so if the road is monitored and the results show speed is in fact not a danger and there are no special circumstances for this road, logically we can only conclude a different approach is required.
3) Thirdly, safety for pedestrians - particularly school children and the elderly/infirm - would be greatly improved by upgrading the crossing point by Rock Road to pedestrian controlled traffic lights. This would improve safety by being much more visible to drivers and causing them to slow and stop as/when required. Additionally, it would encourage the pedestrian traffic to utilise the crossing point instead of using various different points as is likely to currently occur.
Department of Transport data source information: June/September 2016 figures, published for 2015 as used by TCC Group, NDORS, GoSafe, South Wales Police and more...
[4] RAS50002 in