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Burbage – Traffic and Parking by Paul Williams Burbage Campaigner

November 7, 2017 6:23 PM

Burbage - Traffic and Parking

In talking to residents, in the village, over the last few weeks, one of the major concerns for people is traffic and parking.

It's a fact that many of the village streets were designed and laid out in a time of the horse and cart. More worryingly some of the new streets, introduced in living memory, are also struggling to cope with 21st century traffic. I grew up in Burbage in the 1960s when there was a regular double deck bus running through the centre of the village on a twenty-minute timetable, car ownership was for the few. The growth of car ownership and employment spread over a wider area, meant such public services became less popular and hence less viable.

As the car population grew, so did the houses, until we reach what is generally viewed as saturation in the village. Unfortunately, even if the growth of new housing in the village can be arrested, the growth in the wider areas of Leicestershire and the welcome introduction of new job opportunities means traffic will continue to rise. Hinckley and Burbage share a close connection, but the barrier between them of the railway line provides the recipe for traffic bottleneck. The growth potential which the M69 (and increasingly the A5) provides to Hinckley, Barwell and Earl Shilton, is exploited via the roads leading through Burbage; Rugby Road, Sapcote Road and Lutterworth Road.

Congestion on these routes through the village leads to many vehicles taking alternative routes through the streets of Burbage, adding to the burden here. Compared to the congestion of major urban areas, we are still relatively little troubled by comparison. However, when we do experience congestion, we are less tolerant of it, and sadly sometimes people are tempted to "make-up" time in inappropriate places, rushing down clear sections of road to the next parked car.

Speed and Safety

Of all the problems we have with traffic in the village, safety must be the number one priority. One child knocked down, an old person hit or a cyclist collision, has no comparison to frustration and delay in our journey. When we are trying to travel through the village it is so easy to become frustrated with the delay, for example delays along Coventry Road between the entrance to Victoria Road and Salem Road. We must recognise that if those parked cars in this section were not there it is extremely likely more traffic would divert along Coventry Road, at even higher speeds.

As a 5-year old child growing up along Coventry Road in the early 1960s, I ran across the road to see a friend on the other side, directly in the path of a car. The car screeched to a halt and all was well. Thankfully for me, and my relieved parents, the car was driven by a gentleman who always travelled down the road at 20 mph, thus he had time to stop. We now have a 20mph zone within the village. In a modern motor car 20mph can seem a painfully slow experience, but in my opinion, we must embrace the concept and acceptance that driving through the village must be at a lower average speed than we would wish. Each evening between 4 and 6 o'clock on Rugby Road, those vehicles travelling into Hinckley would be extremely pleased if their average speed was 10mph. I would estimate that the average speed along here many evenings is 2-3mph.

So how could lower speeds be achieved?

  • One extremely rapid option is for the village population to think very carefully about a sensible and safe speed for our journey, 30mph is a maximum, not necessarily the appropriate speed for the conditions.
  • Consider putting more specifically designed physical breaks into the carriage-way, small give way sections which forces traffic to halt and give way to traffic from the other direction.
  • Introduce more speed humps, not universally popular, although the longer ramp-flat-ramp are more acceptable than the old "bumps"
  • Install more speed detection/ warning signs, there are three currently installed in Lutterworth Road, although these signs can be moved around the village.
  • Extend the 20mph zone, many whole boroughs in London now have 20mph blanket limits
  • Install number plate recognition monitors on the routes through the village, to enforce an average speed on these routes.

Most of these options involve cost and will impact residents and therefore it is important that community engagement is carried out to assess each option and obtain general support if taken forward.

Parking

As I have mentioned above, parking can be a curse and a blessing. Cars parked on the carriageway is a help in terms of slowing down the average speed and hence deterring through traffic, but it can be a real nuisance for some. Obstruction is perhaps the biggest problem, and this can take two forms;

  • Obstruction for other traffic, particularly buses, can lead to extreme delays and disruption for passengers.
  • Obstruction of the pavement

In certain circumstances, in the narrow streets of Burbage, parking partly upon the pavement can be considerate and helpful to allow the passage of traffic. This consideration MUST also extend to the pavement users. Parking must NEVER obstruct the pavement. As a rule of thumb, if a double width pushchair could not pass the vehicle then obstruction has occurred, and enforcement action could be taken. Please be considerate of both passing traffic and pavement users when parking. Sadly, in the last few weeks I have noticed many examples of cars or vans being parked causing an obstruction to pavement users.

Tackling the Issue

As we move towards the third decade of the 21st century, we may see yet another revo Paul Williamslution of local transport on the horizon. The development of electric and self-driving vehicles may lead to major change once more to the transport situation in the village, hopefully introducing beneficial change. Unfortunately, we live in the moment, and our current traffic and parking issues cause concern, frustration and detriment to the community. We must therefore work together in considering improvements and revised behaviour. Solutions proposed by some, will be disliked by others, and this is an immediate area where community members affect the lives of others. We need to work for as much consensus as possible, but this should not be at the expense of inaction.

The first step is the acknowledgement of the problems, followed by investigations of the potential changes which can be introduced. I commit myself to working, along with others, to make real progress.

Paul Williams - Burbage Parish Campaigner