We made several responses to the Hampshire County Council proposal to implement a 30mph limit on the stretch of the A3032 from New Cut to the Mill Rythe roundabout. They were seen as constructive and helpful by Frank Pearce (the county councillor responsible for making the final decision) and the Hampshire officers involved, so we were invited to participate in a meeting called by Frank to discuss the proposal.
It was a fascinating insight to the decision-making process.
The meeting was also attended by Havant councillors: Andy Lenaghan, Leah Turner and John Perry; Traffic Management and Road safety officers; and a representative of the Police.
There was a lot of discussion about the merits of the proposal, drawbacks and alternative options.
In the end Frank announced his decision to implement the proposal as it stands. A decision we applaud since he made it knowing he was likely to come in for unfair criticism.
Main argument for the proposal
- The stretch of road is busy and has a high collision rate compared to the rest of the county.
- Since the proposal was raised, the rate has increased.
- Experience in Hampshire and the rest of the country shows that reducing speeds from 40 to 30 in this situation reduces collisions – regardless of the historical reasons for collisions – that’s just how it works.
- The Mill Rythe schools have officially requested a reduction in the speed limit in their area.
- Collisions at 30 mph are significantly less likely to kill or cause serious injury than those at 40mph.
- The human cost of a serious injury is huge, and can be life-changing. Fortunately, we haven’t had a fatality on that stretch in the last five years, but the human cost doesn’t bear thinking about.
Not all about cyclists
Although we were present at the meeting, the case was not about cyclists. Clearly cyclists and other vulnerable road users are more at risk than other road users, but the objective of the proposal was to reduce collisions of all types.
The HCC Travel Team had sent in the shocking statistics about how pupils get to Hayling Island schools that we are already familiar with.
Wilf’s response to the proposal got a specific mention. The response was not, however, cycling specific.
It’s not a nice way to think about it – and it’s not the primary concern – but the cost of the proposal is under £10K. The cost to the council of investigating a single collision involving an injury is over £70K. So we can expect that implementing the proposal will save rather than cost money.
Objections and representations
The planning process allows for objections and representations (which means suggestions to change the proposal). It does not seek to obtain a balanced view. ‘Campaign’ responses – the same response sent in by different people – are treated as one response since they all make the same point.
Although there were an unusually large number of objectors, there were also an unusually large number of supporters.
A number of the representations were to reduce the scope of the new 30mph limit, so were still supportive of a speed limit change.
Many of the objections were familiar to officers from previous projects. Their experience was that these concerns are either not realised in practice, or have only a small effect.
There was nothing in the objections or representations to suggest that previous experience of reduced collisions would not be repeated on Hayling.
There were some valid issues and concerns:
- Traffic regulations mean that existing 30mph signs at the end of roads meeting the new 30mph section have to be removed. Some residents will feel this removes an important reminder.
- There might be an increase in traffic seeking to ‘escape’ the 30mph by going down West Lane. The Traffic Management officers thought that any increase would not be substantial, but were prepared to monitor West Lane traffic (they already had measurements to compare to).
- The extent of the 30mph section could be reduced by eliminating either the straight section at the top, the relatively rural section in the middle, or both. Cutting out a section in the middle would create ‘stop start’ speed limits that don’t work well. Cutting out the top section would reduce protection for a number of residents with frontage onto the road. Frank therefore decided to implement the full proposal.
- The proposal left other sections of road at 40mph that are arguably as good or better cases for speed reduction. Indeed, there is an argument to reduce speeds to 30mph across the entire island. The Traffic Management team is, however, resource-constrained. It will be investigating further speed reductions on the island as resource becomes available.
Is it enough?
The argument for reducing speed limits revolves around reducing collisions. That’s laudable. Some people might be encouraged to start cycling the road as a result, but we’re not going to see a wholesale switch from pavement cyclists using that stretch. It’s unlikely that anyone will be encouraged to start cycling as a result of the new 30mph limit.
We will therefore continue to campaign for routes that separate cyclists from traffic:
- Improvements the the Billy Trail
- An off-road North-South route on and off the island
- Safe cycle routes to schools