Community Road Safety Project
The intention of the project is to provide all Residents living on Great Western Park, Didcot with significantly safer roads.
This will be achieved by gathering quantitative data on the speed of vehicles travelling on GWP roads. The aim is to do this prior to the death or serious injury of anyone.
In Year ending March 2016, 187,050 people were injured or killed on UK roads. Of those 72% of all types of casualty occur on roads in built up areas. In the past few years the number of casualties in 20mph limit roads has risen dramatically. The department of transport believes this is due to an increase in the number of 20mph roads but little reduction in the speed of vehicles travelling along them. The leading cause of deaths of children over 5 is due to the roads and mostly as pedestrians.
The original planners for Great Western Park deliberately designed the roads to be twisting with lots of junctions and other hazards, to naturally keep the traffic speed low. As to drive over 20mph on these roads, would be inherently unsafe. The cornering and propulsion capabilities of modern vehicles, along with drivers’ current attitudes to 20mph limits, appear to have rendered this a flawed assumption.
From numerous observations by residents, initial covert speed checks and several crashes, it appears that the majority of drivers are still travelling well in excess of the legal limit and not understanding the natural methods of speed reduction.
A side affect of the planning policy is that almost the entire road network on the estate has too many hazards to pass the Thames Valley Police (TVP) risk assessment and safely conduct an overt Police Speed Check. When approached, TVP were unable to find a suitably safe location within GWP.
The only traditional traffic calming measures in place are non-prioritised road narrowing and changes in road surface. The few road narrowings appear have the affect of the person travelling fastest, receiving priority. It has been observed that vehicles can speed up further to gain priority. Unfortunately the ramps to road surface change are very insignificant and can be driven over at double the speed limit, whilst still in apparent comfort for the driver.
On 21st February 2017, a covert speed check was conducted by residents between 07:05hrs and 08:00hrs, on the section of SIR FRANK WILLIAMS AVENUE, opposite the NORTHERN NEIGHBOURHOOD COMMUNITY CENTRE. The location has got mild traffic calming and chosen as the slowest section on spine, aside from the speed bump close to UTC.
It was conducted using video recording equipment and cones to mark out the distance on the road. Average time was measured from the video and the average speed was calculated using: speed = distance/time.
The method had an inherent inaccuracy, primarily caused by the frame rate of the camera and ability to accurately measure the distance between markers. The worst case error of around 10% was removed from the speeds. This produced results that were rather conservative:
The figures are as follows:
|Total vehicles measured:||248|
|Maximum Speed /mph:||40.57|
|Total < 20mph Speed Limit||52||21.0%|
|Total above 20 but below suggested prosecution limit:||91||36.7%|
|Total above suggested prosecution limit but below 35 mph:||98||39.5%|
|Total driving >> 35mph (Dangerously):||7||2.8%|
|Near miss incidents captured directly on camera from dangerous drivers:||2||0.8%|
As can be seen, the majority of vehicles, around 80%, were travelling in excess of the maximum legal speed for the road. This was at a busy time, on the slowest section of road and over the existing “mild” traffic calming bump. It can be safely assumed that the problem would be worse elsewhere along the spine and main feeder roads.
The above three images illustrate that in less than an hour, there was a near miss collision at the junction, mostly cause by excess speed. There was a vehicle travelling well in excess of double the limit and pedestrians were seen having to flee an approaching vehicle to cross.
Issues with video assessment
It was only a 55 minute snapshot, at morning rush hour, in a single location, so not statistically valid across the whole development. The Manual video method is also extremely labour intensive and took over 10 hours of work per hour to analyse and produce a report. Therefore a much quicker method for obtaining the data needed to be sought.
Following the death of a pet, a crash and countless reports of near misses and observations by residents of extreme speeders on the GWP roads, the GWPRA decided to investigate further. The GWPRA had already started the project but was keen to find out more on the consensus.
To quantify the community concern, a Poll was conducted in May/June 2017:
The GWPRA Facebook poll on May 22nd 2017 asked, “Do you feel the Roads on GWP are adequately safe for all users?” 117 Residents Responded with, “No, I have concerns that the roads are not as safe as they should be.” A further 17 GWP Residents responded, “Yes, I feel the roads are perfectly safe as they are without additional measures.”
This represents a very considerable, 87% of Residents having concerns over the safety of the roads on GWP.
There were a considerable number of comments that accompanied this poll, expressing detailed concerns on the safety of the GWP Roads.
Wider pubic opinion
This same concern is also apparent in those communities where the road environment is too hazardous to allow the Police to conduct speed enforcement operations in them.
Method of Implementation
The method will be to use a technological solution to obtain speed and direction traffic data at perceived problem areas across GWP. Then inform Oxfordshire County Council and the developers, Taylor Wimpey, of the situation. There will also be a specific consultation of the results to discuss options to resolving the issue, if there indeed appears to be excess speed and traffic volume problems.
Covert Speed monitoring
Traditionally traffic speed has been assessed with the SID signs, static or mobile speed cameras but anything overt may not pass a risk assessment, due to the number of hazards on the GWP roads.
Some research was conducted and a couple of solutions for gaining the data effectively were identified. The most suitable was the TuCount Traffic Counter by Truvelo (UK) Ltd. The following is taken from the sales brochure:
“TruCount Traffic Counter – The TruCount Traffic Counter is a statistical traffic-counting device that permits an unbiased, accurate and straightforward acquisition of traffic information for analysis. TruCount uses non-invasive radar technology meaning there are no sensors to install across the path of traffic. The device’s inconspicuous appearance allows it to operate without affecting the normal flow of traffic. The TruCount radar is primarily a speed measuring tool. Due to the way in which the data is gathered it records speed (mph), direction, time and date of traffic. The data is recorded on a per vehicle basis, and it also provides for classification. Installation is a simple one-person task; attach the cabinet to the post, connect the battery and check alignment via Bluetooth. Once the data has been collected it can be downloaded via Bluetooth or 3G. The analysis suite can produce a number of reports that will show the collected data in a vast array of tabular, graphical or exportable formats.”
The TruCount can operate for up to ten days on the battery and record data on >800,000 vehicles in one session.