Petition to Oppose the new Sturry Road Canterbury Bus, Taxi and Cycle Lane
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The Council are proposing the introduction of a new section of bus lane along Sturry Road. I feel that there are a number of issues with this and the impact it will have for residents along Sturry Road, those in neighbouring streets and potentially other road users. I have detailed these below following consultation with a retired Principal Traffic Engineer.
A) Road width
The road is not wide enough. The proposed bus lane, if implemented, would force a bus to proceed along the bus lane very close to the kerb edge, there is insufficient space for the safe use of this section of road by 3 lanes of traffic.
B) Loss of parking space.
The houses along this section of Sturry Road have no off-street parking facilities. The side roads behind the houses are already heavily parked with residents cars from those side roads and there is rarely any parking space available. This leaves us with no alternative but to park in the main road. One advantage of parking in Sturry Road is that the residents can keep an eye on their cars in an area which has a history of vehicle break-ins. Also we can load and unload and take deliveries. The bus lane as proposed would change all of that.
The consultation plan shows the proposed bus lane, and two traffic lanes i.e. one in each direction and the plan indicates that loading would be permitted on the opposite side of the road. Clearly this is unacceptable on 4 counts:-
i) any vehicle which stopped on the opposite side of the road to make a delivery would completely block the eastbound lane as through traffic would be unable to pass the parked vehicle. It is no good assuming that traffic would get past as the westbound lane would, according to your document, be full of traffic. If it is not full of traffic and so congested that that the bus needs assistance to get through, then why do we need a bus lane?
ii) If the parked delivery vehicle were to be booked for causing an obstruction, would the Council's Legal Department be prepared to help defend the driver if the case went to Court or cancel any Penalty Charge Notice?
iii) How would a parent with young children be able to unload shopping from a car which would have to stop on the other side of the road from the houses? The parent can't leave the children in the car whilst trying to cross three lanes of traffic with the shopping. Similarly the parent can't leave the children in the house while they cross the road to get the shopping from the car, take it indoors and then go and find somewhere to park.
iv) As the side roads are heavily parked, delivery lorries could stop in the middle of the side roads, blocking them, while they make deliveries. Clearly this is unacceptable but possibly the only way that deliveries could be made. If the scheme is approved, it implies that the City Council is happy for lorries to park in the middle of the side roads while they make deliveries to Sturry Road.
D) Proposed hours of operation.
It is proposed that the bus lane operates 24 hours a day and 7 seven days a week. This is completely wrong as it prevents access for frontagers for deliveries and loading and unloading. Even in Central London where traffic conditions are far worse than Sturry Road, 24/7 bus lanes only operate where no frontagers would be affected. Where there are frontagers bus lanes operate either at peak times or 0700 to 1900 Mondays to Fridays or Saturdays. There are no night bus services in Sturry Road. There is no major congestion throughout the day, although clearly it is a bit slow along the road during the peak times, and no congestion during the evening. On that basis, how can a 24/7 bus lane be justified? The bus timetables probably already include some additional running time on city-bound routes during the peak period. Passengers can then decide which bus to get inorder to arrive at their destination at the right time.
In terms of design detail, their proposed layout is inaccurate. At the Vauxhall Roundabout where the bus lane starts, there should be a 1:10 taper i.e. 30 metres taper, for traffic to move over for the start of the bus lane. With the layout shown on the plan, a large vehicle coming out of the access road to TK Max would be unable to turn left into Sturry Road without the rear wheels going over the start of the bus lane. At that point the large vehicle would be committing an offence of entering a bus lane even though this would have been caused by poor design.
Clearly there is always controversy about new developments and changes to the existing infra-structure to accommodate it and I would guess that most of the cost of the proposed scheme would be met by developers. However, there must be a limit on how much 21st century traffic you can squeeze into a road network which in places such as Sturry Road is probably several hundred years old. The roads are narrow and there is no possibility of major widening works to accommodate all the traffic that uses them.
It must be remembered that the buses, whilst accepting they are a vital service to the community, are only one demand on the road network and there are many other demands that cannot be ignored such as loading and unloading which this proposed scheme does not adequately deal with. Also road safety and pedestrian safety on the footway cannot be ignored. However as this scheme stands, it would appear that little regard has been given to road safety.
This scheme is not suitable for this road and I sincerely hope that Committee realise that from the community's point of view, the overall disadvantages far outweigh any benefits that will be gained by the buses.
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