While I was out and about in the week, I happened to be cycling along a dual carriageway (on the path because I didn’t want to become innovative jam) when I spied a gap in the central reservation barriers.
The road in question has the national speed limit and it is was patently obvious that many drivers were travelling at high speed. At least from where I was standing, sight lines across to the central reservation were poor and I did wonder if anyone ever crossed there.
The road’s origins go back to the late 1920s and in fact the side road you can just see in the distance was cut in two by the road when it was built, so disrupting the network of very narrow country lanes which served the farms on the area. I have had a quick look at historic maps for the area and in the mid-1940s, the dual carriageway still formed a crossroads with the two side roads.
At some point, it was realised that having people turning right onto and from a trunk road was a bad idea and the traffic closed, but in common with countless places, we can still see a remnant of pedestrian access rights where old desire lines are kept with gaps in the barriers.
The layout of the barriers (properly known as ‘safety fence’ or a ‘vehicle restraint system’) is such that the pedestrian route means that one walks with their back to traffic in the central reservation because of the barrier overlap. If this was reversed, then it would be possible for a vehicle hitting the barriers to go through the middle.
In CIHT‘s ‘Designing for Walking‘, Table 3 gives a ready reckoner on the suitability of different types of pedestrian crossing (there are clearly more detailed variables at any given site). I reproduce the first type of crossing above as it has a bearing on this case – I think you’ll agree that a pair of dropped kerbs to cross a 70mph road (even in two halves) is a big ask for most people to use as a crossing. There is a DfT traffic count point nearby and the road carries some 36,000 vehicles per day – actually quieter than we might expect for a dual carriageway, but clearly still a large volume.
The Ranty Highwayman: Dual Carriageway Terror
While I was out and about in the week, I happened to be cycling along a dual carriageway (on the path because I didn’t want to become innovative jam) when I spied a gap in the central reservation barriers. The road in question has the national speed limit and it is was patently obvious that… [Read More]