Benton Street – Pedestrian Safety & Traffic Management Options

By Councillor Mick Fraser

3rd January 2018


Benton Street – Pedestrian Safety &  Traffic Management Options

Benton Street is an historic street consisting of a narrow carriageway and footways, quite like many other market towns within Suffolk. Due to the increase in traffic volume and types of vehicles now used, Benton Street has become busier and more difficult to navigate along.  Vehicles are often unable to pass one another easily and it is becoming increasingly more common for vehicles to use the adjacent footway to such an extent that it is now a frequent occurrence.  This is, of course, most detrimental to pedestrian safety.

In response to local concerns, Suffolk Highways has been requested to investigate solutions to address these issues. Some experimental measures have been discussed and some survey work has been undertaken to understand the extent and location of pavement overrunning and to gauge local views on the mode and extent of the problems faced along Benton Street.

As a result of the information gathered from the surveys, proposals have been designed to address the opinions of those most affected.  It is hoped that these options will reduce conflict with vehicles and diminish the need for vehicles to mount the footway, therefore increasing the safety for all users of the Public Highway.  The surveys took the form of video camera data and a residents’ questionnaire.

Traffic Survey

Suffolk County Council commissioned Tracsis Plc Traffic and Data Service, to carry out a video survey during the period 31st July – 4th August 2017.  To ensure that adequate data could be recorded, 13 cameras had to be positioned along Benton Street between Cranworth Road and Station Road.  This had enabled the survey team, to breakdown the area of Benton Street to 26 different zones, capturing both sides of the carriageway, therefore ensuring that information provide and ascertain the area which had resulted in the most incursions.  The key results of this survey can be seen in the Footway Incursion Plan.

Once the survey had been completed, Trancsis Plc analysed the data, from which it had shown that 1202 incursions on to the pedestrian footpaths had occurred along this section of Benton Street.  With this information, Suffolk Highways was able to ascertain the areas which required remodelling the reduce the need for vehicles to mount the pavement.  Suffolk Highways was also able to evaluate the areas with the most incursions, shown on the plan, and the number of times the footway had been mounted.

From these results, Suffolk Highways has produced various schemes which could be introduced to manage road traffic in a manner which would alleviate the need to mount the pavements.  The following options are available to be trialled initially as an experiment, but these must be budgeted for from my Councillor Local Highways Budget (LHB) and not from any central SCC fund. 

Residents Questionnaire

Due to public concerns over the situation of vehicles mounting and driving along the footway within Benton Street, numerous issues have been raised with Suffolk County Councillor’s on this matter.  Therefore, Suffolk Highways were asked to undertake works to ascertain what is causing these problems and produce a viable scheme which could reduce the conflict between pedestrians and vehicles.

As part of this investigation and to find out what residents are experiencing within Benton Street, a questionnaire was sent to residents during August 2017.  Within the questionnaire data was collected regarding where people live, what the issues along Benton Street were and how do people feel whilst travelling along Benton Street either on foot or by various modes of transport.

Suffolk Highways has then evaluated the responses received and was able to understand the issues which had been presented to residents.  The results from this survey show that depending on where the respondent lived the perceived problem was different from residents from another location surrounding Benton Street.  The data collected from these returned questionnaires can be viewed in the Residents Survey Results.

Traffic Management Options

Suffolk Highways Officers have drawn up several traffic management options which can be trialled in Benton Street to see whether we can improve this situation of pedestrian safety.  These options are displayed on this site along with a description and the Pro’s & Con’s which go along with each.  I have dismissed 2 of the options in their current forms as the costs of both are well beyond the scope of my LHB.  There are also the Footway Incursion Plan showing the main hazard hot-spots, and the Residents Survey Results, from the questionnaire data. 

I would also welcome any questions or comments about these options.

Cllr Mick Fraser

Email: mick.fraser@suffolk.gov.uk´╗┐

Tel:  0793 551 2591

 

 

Option One: - False One-Way (No Entry from Station Street) 

The proposal is to close Benton Street for motorised vehicles from Station Road / High Street. This will allow cyclists to enter Benton Street only.

The direction of flow will remain status quo for residents, who will be able to travel in both a northerly and southerly direction along Benton Street. This scheme will reduce the vehicle conflicts, that have resulted in vehicles mounting the footway; a manoeuvre which is detrimental to pedestrian safety.

There are as with any proposed scheme are pro’s and con’s. 

Pro’s 

1) Reduction in vehicular conflict, therefore improving pedestrian safety.

2) Reduction in vehicle volumes using the road.

3) Retention of existing parking.

4) Retention of access for residents in both directions.

5) Retention of access for cyclists.

6) Enforcement of the HGV restriction at the Northern section of Benton Street.

7) Retention of commuter traffic coming into Hadleigh.

8) Minimal civil engineering works.

9) Trial scheme can be reverted to existing layout with minimal works.

10) Air quality increased due to reduction in volume of traffic.

11) Minimal environmental impact due to signage.

12) Minimal implementation costs. 

Con’s 

1) Increasing vehicular traffic onto adjacent roads, as drivers try and find alternative routes.

2) Restricting Bus Route in one direction, into Hadleigh only.

3) Speeds may increase due to the reduction in conflict from vehicular traffic travelling in a southerly direction.

4) Commuter route out of Hadleigh effected.

 

Option Two: - Road Narrowing / Chicanes 

The proposals are to retain the existing traffic flow, but providing a safer environment for pedestrians and vehicular traffic to use Benton Street,

This is achieved by the installation of a priority system which reduces the conflict where the carriageway is of insufficient width to maintain two-way traffic flows.

Pro’s

1) Reduces conflict between drivers from the opposite direction.

2) Reduces the need for vehicles to mount the footway, increasing pedestrian safety.

3) Reduces the conflict between historic buildings and vehicles, therefore reducing damage to private property.

4) Retention of two-way traffic flow.

5) Reduces the possibility of damage to Statutory Undertakers equipment, reducing the inconvenience to residents.

6) Reduces speeds (to approximate 20mph (85percentile speed)), improving safety for all road users and pedestrians.

7) Possible reduction of noise due to the decrease of traffic speed.

8) Trial scheme can be reverted to existing layout with minimal works.

9) Retains Bus service in both directions.

Con’s

1) Reduction of on-street parking due to build-outs.

2) Air quality remains the same due to limited reduction of traffic volume.

3) Increased travelling times and possible queuing onto Station Road, in peak periods.

4) Vehicular traffic may find alternative routes in the surrounding areas (Hook Lane) due to increased travelling time.

5) Increased residents parking to surrounding areas, such as Ravens Way.

 

Option Three – One-Way System, North Traffic Flow

The proposed scheme is to implement a one-way system with or without a contra-flow cycle lane (unmarked). The proposals will be for vehicles to travel in a northerly direction only. This choice of direction has been made due to the surrounding road network, where certain junctions would be safer traveling in a southerly direction.

This scheme will involve signage works and entry treatments to reduce the possibility of vehicles entering the network in the wrong direction.

Pro’s

1) Eliminates the conflict between motorist traveling in opposite directions.

2) Reduces the possibility of vehicles mounting the footway.

3) Retention of commuter traffic travelling into Hadleigh.

4) Reduces HGV traffic flow in one direction.

Con’s

1) Increasing vehicular traffic onto adjacent road network, as drivers try and find alternative routes.

2) Restricting bus route in one direction, into Hadleigh only.

3) Speeds may increase due to the elimination of conflict from vehicular traffic travelling in a southerly direction.

4) Medium environmental impact due to signage (one-way), and high environmental impact due to signage with one-way and contra-flow cycle scheme.

5) Commuter route out of Hadleigh effected.

 

Option Four: - Relocation of Parking Spaces.

The proposed scheme to relocate areas of on-street parking to reduce the pinch point effect, which has resulted in locations where vehicles consider it necessary to mount the footway.

This scheme will attempt to relocate parking and provide additional spaces, this is achieved by repositioning spaces to the wider sections of Benton Street and in providing off-street parking spaces within Raven Way.

Pro’s

1) Eliminates pinch points.

2) Reduces the possibility of vehicles mounting the footway in some areas along Benton Street.

3) Reduces the conflict between historic buildings and vehicles, reducing damage to private property.

4) Retention of two-way traffic flow.

5) Retains bus service in both directions.

Con’s

1) Does not eliminate all areas of concern.

2) Vehicle speed may increase due to the loss of obstructions.

3) Residents may not be happy with the alternative parking locations.

4) Issues remain with illegal parking and enforcement of the parking restrictions.

 

Option Five: - False One-Way with bus gate (No Entry from Station Street)

The proposal is to close Benton Street for motorised vehicles from Station Road / High Street, except buses and cyclists. This will allow buses and cyclists to entry from Station street into Benton Street only.

The direction of flow will remain status quo for residents, buses and cyclist who will be able to travel in both a northerly and southerly direction along Benton Street. This scheme will reduce the vehicle conflicts, that have resulted in vehicles mounting the footway; a manoeuvre which is detrimental to pedestrian safety.

There are as with any proposed scheme are pro’s and con’s.

Pro’s

1) Reduction in vehicular conflict, therefore improving pedestrian safety.

2) Reduction in vehicle volumes using the road.

3) Retention of existing parking.

4) Retention of access for residents in both directions.

5) Retention of access for cyclists.

6) Enforcement of the HGV restriction at the Northern section of Benton Street.

7) Retention of commuter traffic coming into Hadleigh.

8) Minimal civil engineering works.

9) Trial scheme can be reverted to existing layout with minimal works.

10) Air quality increased due to reduction in volume of traffic.

11) Minimal environmental impact due to signage.

12) Minimal implementation costs.

Con’s

1) Increasing vehicular traffic onto adjacent roads, as drivers try and find alternative routes.

2) Speeds may increase due to the reduction in conflict from vehicular traffic travelling in a southerly direction.

3) Commuter route out of Hadleigh effected.

 

Other Options: 

There were other proposals put forward, but these have been eliminated because they cannot be funded from the Local Highways Budget.  One of these options did explore the use of Hook Lane, which shows that the Suffolk Highways officers have considered the broader geography whilst addressing this issue.  Also, in any project management scheme or mission analysis, one should consider what would happen if we were to do nothing?  I would suggest that with vehicle numbers predicted to increase on our roads and with vehicles of all types increasing in size, the situation would most likely worsen.  The fabric of Benton Street might deteriorate further as would the safety for all pedestrians.  Hence why I wish to try out something, rather than not doing anything about this issue.

Conclusion:

Although each scheme has positive results to try and resolve the issues within Benton Street, all the above schemes have their limitations. To optimise the effectiveness a combination of the schemes might be able to achieve a better result.

A mixture of these schemes such as a restricted entry, to try and reduce the volume of vehicles using Benton Street, in combination with build-outs to reduce the possibility of speeding and reduction of on-street parking to reduce vehicles needing to mount the kerbs will produce a greater and more positive effect on the current situation.

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