Alkham Parish Council Traffic Action Group
Traffic Calming Proposals for the Alkham Valley Road
The Traffic Action Group (TAG) was set up by the Parish Council at the Parish Council meeting of the 9th January 2017. The Terms of Reference for the Group was to gather statistical evidence of traffic behaviour and examine different traffic calming measures that might be applicable to the Alkham situation. The results are to be presented to the residents of Alkham for their support as to the findings of the study and finally to the Parish Council for their consideration and appropriate action to pursue the proposals with KCC.
The first action of TAG was to ascertain by means of a questionnaire the views of the residents of Alkham as to whether or not there was, in their opinion, a traffic problem on the Alkham Valley Road. The conclusion drawn from the questionnaire (returns from over 200 residents) was overwhelming that a problem of volume and speed of traffic did exist to the point where the quality of life for the residents was impaired. The results of the questionnaire were presented to the Parish Council at the Parish Council meeting of the 8th May at which meeting approval was given to carry out two sets of traffic surveys, the first to be while TAP restrictions were in place on the A20 and the second once the TAP restrictions had been removed.
The first survey was carried out between the Wednesday 17th May 2017 and Tuesday 23rd May 2017, and the second survey between Thursday 14th September 2017 and Wednesday 20th September 2017. The survey locations for both sets of surveys were the same, namely sited on the Alkham Valley Road at the location of the ‘traffic activated signs’ at the West end and the East end of the village. An overall summary of the survey results is as follows:
There has been little change in West Bound Peak Hour traffic, heading from the direction of Dover towards Folkestone between 0700-0800 hrs as a result of the removal of TAP on the A20, but East Bound Peak Hour traffic between 1700-1800 hrs heading from the direction of Folkestone towards Dover shows a marked reduction.
The average Weekday 24 hour flow for West Bound traffic in May was 5297 vehicles and in September this was much the same at 5236 vehicles in 24 hours. The corresponding figures for 24 hour East Bound traffic was in May an average of 4896 vehicles and in September 4519 vehicles, showing an overall 9% reduction. The equivalent average Peak Hour flows for East Bound traffic show a 12% reduction as a result of the lifting of the speed restrictions for East bound traffic on the A20.
The distribution of cars to HGV’s using the Alkham Valley Road has remained constant over the study period with the removal of TAP restrictions having no significant effect. The split is in the order of 90% Cars, LGV’s Caravans to 10% HGV’s.
The effect of the removal of TAP restrictions on the A20 has also had no effect on the speed of traffic through Alkham, as measured by the two sets of surveys. Within the 30 mph zone through Alkham the following speed results were recorded in the September survey:
In both cases, at the Western site and the Eastern site, some 70% of the traffic entering the village is travelling well above the designated speed limit of 30 mph with only 30% travelling at 30 mph or below and 15% of all traffic exceeding 40 mph. Some 90% of traffic leaving the village is also exceeding 30 mph with only 10% being below 30 mph and 15% exceeding 43mph. The highest speed recorded was between 71 and 80 mph leaving the village West bound. The majority of speeding traffic occurs outside the rush hour peak periods, mainly because the volume of traffic, and its convoy effect, at these times, constrains speeding.
Speed is a major contributing factor, in the majority of serious accidents nationwide. Reduce speed and the risk of major accidents is reduced. In the last 3 years, within the village boundary, there have been 6 accidents where speed has been a factor; 3 serious, (the latest on the 17th June requiring the presence of the air ambulance helicopter).
In the rural environment of Alkham, within this Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the Group’s findings and proposals concentrate on reducing speed of traffic to make the Alkham Valley Road, which is an Unclassified Road because of its standard, a safe place for all users, pedestrians, horse riders, cyclists, and children. Measures to reduce the speed of traffic through the village will have the overall effect of making the Alkham Valley Road less attractive to through traffic and consequently have a knock-on effect of reducing traffic flow.
The following proposals for calming traffic are to be presented to the residents of Alkham, in the form of a questionnaire, to seek their views and comments:
- To introduce a 30 mph speed limit for East bound traffic from the location of the existing 40 mph limit by Spring Meadow at the Folkestone end of the village.
- To introduce the 30 mph speed limit from Wolverton Hill to the existing 30 mph sign at the East end of the village.
- At the 30 mph sign at the West end of the village and at the site of the existing 30 mph sign at the East of the village, to erect conspicuous entrance gateways and reduce the road width at these points introducing priority flow. Priority being given to traffic leaving the village.
- To extend the 40 mph zone from Wolverton Hill to the Parish East boundary.
- To introduce a 40 mph speed limit at the Western end of the village from the proposed gateway to the Capel/ Hawkinge cross road, by Patio Products, where we propose a 50 mph speed limit is introduced for the rest of the Alkham Valley Road to the Parish West boundary.
- To introduce a 20 mph zone from the gateway in the East through the entire village to the location of the existing 40 mph signs at the West end of Valley Cottages. This 40 mph sign there to be changed to 30 mph.
- To enforce adherence to the 20 mph speed limit throughout the length of the 20 mph zone by introducing ‘build-outs’, road narrowing, and priority flow at the following points:
- a) At the Eastern Gateway, priority to East bound traffic;
- b) At the location of the existing Eastern activated traffic sign, priority to West bound traffic;
- c) At the Marquis narrowing, priority to West bound traffic;
- d) At the location of the Western activated traffic sign, priority to East bound traffic;
- e) At the location of the existing 40 mph sign (to be changed to 30 mph) at the West end of Valley Cottages, priority to West bound traffic;
- f) At a point 150 metres East of Meggett Lane , in the vicinity of the Garden Centre, priority to East bound traffic;
- g) At the existing 50 mph sign (to be changed to 40 mph) by Spring Meadow, at the proposed West gateway, priority to West bound traffic.
- We further propose to introduce a pedestrian crossing within the 20 mph zone in the vicinity of the Village Green play area across the Alkham Valley Road to allow safe crossing, amongst others, to the bus stops and Village Green. The Belisha beacons at the crossing to be lit using solar powered storage.
- At the narrow point by the Marquis, with traffic priority to West bound traffic, to introduce a 1.2 metre wide footpath on the Marquis side of the road, alongside Forstal Cottage wall.
- To reduce damage to the friction surface of the road, at specific points, to introduce a vehicle weight restriction to be applied throughout the whole length of the Alkham Valley Road. The limit to be determined by KCC Highways.
The estimated cost of these measures would be in the order of £100,000. It may be necessary to introduce these measures in a phased way to spread the cost to KCC over several financial years. It is expected that the Parish will be called upon to contribute towards these costs, requiring funds to be raised over the period. The residents of Alkham will be asked to prioritise these changes in the order to which they consider they should be introduced.
Interestingly enough KCC put forward a traffic calming scheme for the Alkham Valley Road in 1995 which incorporated several of the elements being proposed by TAG today. They proposed two Gateways, one at the East end of the village where the current proposal is recommending it be located, and one at the West end where TAG’s proposals recommend the change from 20 mph to 30mph, at the end of Valley Cottages. KCC also proposed a narrowing of the road outside the Marquis and the introduction of a 1.2m footpath but alongside Martin Vale boundary fence, rather than on the North side of the road as is currently being proposed. The KCC scheme had the support of the emergency services and was estimated to cost £25,000. (the equivalent of £45,750 at today’s prices (using Historical UK inflation rates and calculator). At that time, within the 30 mph zone, the 85th percentile speed was recorded at 44 mph. Today the 85th percentile figure is slightly lower between 38 and 43 mph.
These proposals will now be put to the residents of Alkham for their views and opinions and support before a final version is formally submitted to the Parish Council for their further action. In order to explain these proposals to the residents of Alkham, prior to the distribution of the questionnaire, there is to be an open meeting here at the Village Hall on December 7th. An announcement of this meeting will be placed in the next Newsletter.