Friday, October 03, 2008

A barrier for The Rough

A minor flurry of letters in the Shuttle with regards to Betty Dawes hill (the name which no-one here uses) has prompted the future installation of a barrier at the bottom of the hill where it meets the The Rough.

The first letter here is interestingly penned by Cllr. Gittins of Bewdley (presumably because it was his friends car that was hit). Two faults become apparent - first he talks about a footpath from the Walshes estate when there are in fact two, one going down the hill and one running around its base. However it can be assumed that he is referring to the downhill one by the remark "steep footpath". Except we then face problem two which is where he states "there are no cycling signs"; again in fact one exists at each end of this footpath, but not the other.

The second letter was in reply and can be found here and takes the position that Cllr Gittins wants the barrier to aid the poor cyclists; they quite rightly point out both the existence of a set of steep steps and the No Cycling signs. As an aside they also state that this road is obviously not meant to carry the level of traffic it does and most certainly not the level of effluent being produced (I too have noticed and commented on the smell).

The third letter was a reply to that from Cllr Gittins. He clarifies his original letter in that his motive was to protect the motorist and not the cyclist. He then contradicts his original letter by stating that he knows that No Cycling signs are present, but that they are "no deterrent to cyclists on mountain bikes". He also pulls the "Won't someone please think of the children" card on the chances of children running down the hill into the road.

Okay here are my thoughts, but first a confession - I too have contemplated the requirement for a staggered barrier at this particular junction and have done so for over 10 years. So saying that why haven't I mentioned anything? Well first off all as one of my friends pointed out "They shouldn't be cycling down it anyway" Cllr Gittins states that the signs are no deterrent but fails to ask why.

I would now like to point out once again that the sign at the bottom of the hill is a red-bordered white circle with the words "No Cycling" whereas at the top of the hill it's a red-bordered white circle with an icon of a bicycle. A wholly unscientific test conducted on the Bratii reveals that they continue to believe the latter means you can cycle down the hill (despite me contradicting them on every occasion).

My second point is a natural distrust in any 'safety' measure implemented by the council in that said staggered barrier will be impassable for anyone with a pushchair. A case in point being that directional sign which meets every guideline and yet common-sense states it's in the way. My faith is not high in that the paving stones here have already had to be broken to allow a drop kerb for such appliances as it seems no-one thought of this during re-laying.

Point three is that such a barrier will in fact become a 'hanging-out' ground with 'youths' sitting on it or jumping off it, plus the vandalisation that is sadly bound to occur. Witness the state of the bench on said hill for an idea.

Point four is the more esoteric one in that if cyclists do not use the down-hill path they'll use the round-hill one instead. This is a long curving bend at which some cyclists already travel around at speed (and given the state of the road at this point I cannot remonstrate with them for not using it) on a personal note my mother was almost run over by a cyclist careening around this bend at high speed. For such cyclists they too will ride straight out into The Rough so to be effective any staggered barrier would need to cover both footpaths.

Conclusions? Why are the cyclists using the footpath, do they not realise that they can't due to the poor signage, is the law being applied? What is the speed limit on The Rough? As far as I know as it's an unlit street with no repeater signs so it's derestricted and therefore 60mph. What signs warn drivers/pedestrians/cyclists about the oncoming junction?

I found against the idea as it has the potential to cause more problems then solve and that it is once again an attack on a symptom rather then a cause.

[Addendum - Would it be considered rude to note that in the third letter Cllr Gittins mentions "messages of support from Stourport residents" while at the same time I point out that it is only now that the highways authority are looking into it?

On the same heading perhaps Cllr. Gittins could make mention of the acts I saw not one hour ago - Firstly a gentleman supported by two canes forced to walk in the road around the York Street bus-shelter; and secondly a lady standing on the grass attempting to cross Dunley Road having just been dropped off at the bus-stop nearby; oh and that would be the same unsheltered bus-stop situated in a broad stretch of nothingness, while the Bridge Street, York Street and Windmill Bank stops, all sheltered by either walls or landscaping, enjoy the protection of perspex.

No doubt if a councillor brought these topics up some form of solution would be presented]