Thursday, 29 July 2021

'Slowing down drivers would reduce congestion in town'

SPEED reduction measures should be introduced in Watlington to relieve congestion, according to consultants.

Mode Transport Planning, of Birmingham, has submitted a traffic management report as part of the town’s neighbourhood plan, which names three sites for up to 260 new homes and is due to go to a referendum in the spring.

Watlington suffers from poor air quality caused by fumes from vehicles using its narrow streets and is frequently used as a “rat run” by drivers of heavy goods vehicles.

The consultants propose:

• Introducing a 20mph speed limit in the town centre.

• Installing chicanes on the town’s entry routes, including Cuxham Road, Howe Road (B480) and Shirburn Road (B4009).

• Rearranging the parking bays and creating pedestrian build-outs and speed bumps.

• Installing a pedestrian crossing in Hill Street.

The Mode report says the 20mph speed limit would ensure “a safe environment for pedestrians and cyclists” and could be enforced using automatic number plate recognition cameras.

The chicanes on the entry roads would reduce the speed of vehicles from 50mph to 30mph and then to 20mph before they reached the town centre.

The report adds: “To get the same impact along B4009 Britwell Road, the existing speed cushion will be upgraded to speed humps and new speed humps will be developed along B480 Brook Street to maintain vehicle speeds upon approach to the town centre.

“To address the issues caused by the ‘pinch points’ within the town centre itself, the existing on-street parking can be utilised to help inform drivers where they occur and therefore give way in the appropriate locations.

“This has been achieved by flipping the location of some of the existing parking bays within the town centre to the opposite side of the carriageway to create chicanes.

“This will ensure that none of the existing parking bays are lost and will help manage the traffic impact within the town centre rather than hinder it.

“In addition, traffic narrowing signs can be installed to inform the drivers that they are approaching a ‘pinch point’ and should take care when passing parked vehicles.”

The report also suggests introducing traffic signals at the junction of Couching Street, Hill Road and High Street, which is a pinch point, and the two T-junctions of Love Lane and Shirburn Road and Brook Street and Couching Street.

A “no entry except for access” sign would prevent High Street being used as a cut-through by drivers to avoid congestion at the southern end of B4009 Couching Street and at the Brook Street/Couching street junction.

The report says: “The focus of the measures that Mode has suggested is to manage the existing levels of traffic by controlling speeds and increasing gaps within flow of traffic travelling through the town. The intention is to slow vehicles entering Watlington, thereby creating more gaps in traffic in the centre of the town, allowing for opposing streams to work their way through with fewer conflicts at the pinch points.

“This will have the added benefit of reducing incidences of standing traffic, which is the key issue regarding the level of air and noise pollution within Watlington town centre.

“In terms of physical measures, it is not considered to be beneficial to implement anything until the general level of traffic within Watlington is reduced.

“Therefore, psychological traffic measures, such as 20mph signs and no entry signs, would be the most effective type of measures for the here and now.

“In addition, if the traffic-calming measures, such as the chicanes, are effective in smoothing the traffic flow within the town centre, it will be less likely that vehicles will use High Street as a cut-through to avoid the Couching Street/Brook Street junction.”

• A drop-in session for people wanting more information will be held at the Watlington Club on February 3 from 10am to 2pm.

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