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Boxmoor Traffic Strategy paper

March 28, 2021 7:42 PM

BOXMOOR VILLAGE TRAFFIC STRATEGY

March 2021

Background

A number of factors mean that traffic in Boxmoor has worsened in recent years to the point where it is many residents' major complaint with the locality. These trends include:

Covid lockdown temporarily reduced the traffic pressure on local roads, but since lockdown 1 eased, the volume of traffic on the roads has returned to high levels and a significant number of cars have returned to old patterns of acceleration and exceeding speed limits. Not only does the noise and sense of danger caused by speeding cars unnerve residents, it also leads to pedestrians crossing roads to feel unsafe, especially if their mobility is encumbered, for example by age, escorting children or pushing buggies. With a secondary school, three primary schools, one infant school, a Special School and several pre-schools in the ward, this safety aspect is a particular problem at school drop-off and pick-up times.

Troublespots

Many roads in Boxmoor Ward suffer from irresponsible driving and others are used for rat runs through the area. This strategy aims at addressing the worst areas, which broadly are roads which have the following characteristics:

Map of Boxmoor Traffic issuesThe map alongside shows the areas which

are considered the worst troublespots.

There may be others, but these are the most

frequently complained about. As well as the

features listed above, all of these roads are

used by through traffic avoiding other less

crowded or busy routes.

This strategy aims to build a series of actions

that will maximise the chances of putting

in place measures which will reduce speeds.

It is based on the assumption that this will take

several years and require sustained pressure.

HCC Speed Management Strategy

The County Council's strategy can be found on the internet at the following address: https://democracy.hertfordshire.gov.uk/documents/s24958/201214%2009%20Speed%20Managament%20Strategy%20Update.pdf.

It states:

"The key underlying principle of the revised strategy is that it provides a framework to ensure that the speed limit for any road is in keeping with its environment rather than putting up speed limit signs and expecting a significant behaviour change. In some cases, this may mean lowering speed limits (which in some locations may require changes in the design of a road and /or implementation other measures to change behaviour), in other cases this may mean raising limits or keeping them as they are."

We take this to mean that evidence has shown that signs are not enough. Therefore changes in design of the road are likely to be necessary, which in many cases increases costs and makes implementation harder to achieve. Overall, this makes it harder to get speed reductions.

It continues: "Hertfordshire's Local Transport Plan 4 places much greater emphasis on the consideration of the needs of vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. In order to support this the Council has also adopted a place and movement approach which takes account of the varying functions and uses of its roads and categorises them based on whether they are places people want to visit or whether they are primarily focussed on vehicle movement. This helps identify locations which may be suitable for the application of lower speed limits."

The strategy includes "5 core principles:

Creative solutions

Traffic calming, such as sleeping policemen are extremely unpopular. Changes to road layouts are often prohibitively expensive. We would, therefore, like to explore ways in which simple low-cost approaches cause traffic calming by reducing drivers' "sense of space", increasing awareness of pedestrian vulnerability and breaking up traffic flows; these might include:

Our approach

Achieving traffic calming measures that work for the community would seem to be best served by an approach that has three stages:

Analysis of the various troublespots

The tables below lay out the issues and potential solutions for the troublespots identified in the map on page one.

FisheryPlan

St Johns Plan Green End Rd Plan Beechfield plan GravelHillTerr plan Lockers Plan

Drivesafe Scheme

In November 2019 the Borough Councillors for Boxmoor submitted an application to the Herts Constabulary's Drivesafe scheme to run temporary speed checks on Fishery, St Johns (two locations), Green End Road, Gravel Hill Terrace and Beechfield Road. In February 2020 Drivesafe responded that many of the locations were inappropriate because of obstructions such as parked cars, trees, bends & junctions. Since then the scheme has been shut down owing to Covid lockdown. In anticipation of the scheme restarting after lockdown 3, a more refined application has been submitted for schemes to be run on Fishery, Green End and Gravel Hill Terrace.

The Drivesafe scheme also offers opportunities to put in place awareness raising infrastructure, such as signs that flash messages to approaching cars which exceed the speed limit. We intend to apply for such interventions. If they achieve their objectives, then that is well and good; if they don't, they help build the evidence to argue the case for more effective interventions.

20mph Zone in Village Centre

The 20mph zone on St Johns Road is intended to create a more pedestrian-friendly area around the shops. There is evidence that suggests that busy street scenes with pedestrians provide a psychological trigger for motorists to slow down. The message the 20mph zone sends out needs to be strengthened with initiatives that show that as a community we value this area and highlight to drivers that this is a space for people not cars. Coffee and Wine's recent pavement licence and Boho Boxmoor's application for planters to make the apron at the bottom of Cowper Road more pleasant are two excellent examples of how this might happen. This needs to be built on with a complete re-think of traffic calming in the village.

As well as measures which give more ownership of the space to pedestrians, we need to extend the area of restricted speeds, so that the 20mph zone has a higher profile and greater visibility. Berkhamsted has recently extended its 20mph zone to incorporate the vast majority of the town centre, including side streets which do not have shops. It is difficult to know how far the County Council's recently revised policy (see above) will permit the extension of the current scheme, but we should not allow ourselves to be held back in aspiring for the best scheme for the whole community, not simply the shops.

The map below shows a number of approaches to reducing speeds throughout Boxmoor, beyond the current scheme (shaded red). At the very least, we should work to have the zone extended for the majority of St Johns Road, incorporating Blackbirds Moor in the east and the Doctor's surgery in the west. This area is shaded amber on the map.

Boxmoor 20mph zone options

Such a scheme would increase the number of places requiring signage from four locations to seven. However, many of these locations already have posts for Controlled Parking Zones meaning the additional work would be minimal. If this was extended to include the side streets on the Berkhamsted model, as shown by the area shaded green, the area would include notorious traffic hotspots in Green End, Fishery and lower Beechfield. It would also incorporate both of the village centre's primary schools. The green area would require signage in eight locations, showing that increasing the area covered does not massively increase the cost. There is an argument for a more ambitious scheme to include the Sports Centre, Hemel Hempstead School, South Hill School and the Heath Lane Children's Centre. This area is shaded blue on the map. Such a scheme would need signage in ten locations.

Schools

Many difficulties relate to schools, both the transport of pupils to schools and the safety of pupils walking to school. Getting the balance right between the two, especially in relation to parking near schools is very complicated and will need to bear in mind the specific circumstances of each individual school. This plan is not the place for detailed analysis of these issues, but we hope some of the issues raised can be addressed by school communities and would like to be proactive in discussions with schools on these issues.

Conclusion

This strategy aims to start the process whereby your local Councillors can be armed with the data and local opinion to address the long-standing issues with traffic through Boxmoor. Crucially, though, this is only possible with the support of the community and so, we look forward to hearing from residents with their thoughts, both through surveys conducted by us and through opinion shared direct to boxmoorcouncillors@gmail.com.

Cllr Adrian England, Cllr Claire Hobson, Cllr Liz Uttley & Cllr William Allen

March 2021