Thursday, 20 February 2014

How did the chicken cross the road?

I'm sure you've heard the "Why did the chicken cross the road?" joke enough times that you don't need to know the so called punchline. However, for people living in Allington, a suburb of Maidstone to the north west, it is pretty clear why people would want to cross the road:

The great Allington divide
I've circled in orange places that people from either side of the A20 would want to get to, the Supermarket, two primary schools and a GP. I've also included the location where the speed limit changes from 30mph to 40mph. Note that the only change is that the road is wider, pedestrians will still want to cross here and there are still houses with driveways directly onto the road. 

Look right and cross your fingers

You've two lanes to cross before your little oasis in the middle, good luck!

The preferred method for allowing pedestrians to cross this road is the traffic island. Simply stick a load of concrete in the middle of the road and leave a gap for pedestrians. The best thing from a a motor-centric point of view is that there is no disruption to motor traffic whatsoever. Simply allow the pedestrian to have their wits about them and leave it up to them to find a safe gap in the traffic, essentially playing chicken with the traffic.

Keep. The Traffic. Moving.

Make sure you aren't crossing when the lights go green

Even worse is that this method is used at junctions that are signalized for motor traffic. There are two lanes of traffic on each side of the pedestrian island. One one side you have traffic coming at you from 3 different directions, and on the other, a line of traffic waiting for their chance to go. Considering that this would be the only road to cross between two primary schools makes this situation even more incredibly negligent on behalf of Kent County Council. I'm pretty sure the only reason for not including a proper, signalized crossing here would be causing delays to motor traffic.

Where there is a crossing, there it is only provided on one arm of the junction, and in the standard cattle pen arrangement. If you want to cross the A20 you may need to cross two other roads to get to this crossing, both with traffic coming from three different directions. Good luck.

Wait twice so traffic doesn't have to!

The 1960s wet dream

Later down the road another signalized junction for motor traffic. But this one has barriers to keep those pesky pedestrians in their place, on the pavement. Even better, this junction uses a footbridge to grade separate pedestrians
For their own safety of course, not because we want to keep motor traffic moving quickly
We are keeping pedestrians safe, speeding up motor traffic is an unintended side effect

Now, I am all for grade separation of pedestrians on motorways, or busy trunk roads. But do pedestrians really need to walk 140 metres to cross a road 8 meters wide. This is a 30mph road in a residential area, and while this is one of the roads that motor traffic should be encouraged to used as opposed to residential rat runs, there should be absolutely no reason why proper pedestrian crossings cannot be installed at this junction. If you want to have a look for yourself, the junction is here:

It is this sort of road design that really highlights why people drive ridiculously short distances to places such as the supermarket highlighted in the first satellite image. Walking in Allington as a whole is actually quite pleasant, but trying to cross the main road is a horrible experience, and while this is the case, nothing will change.

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