Friday, February 15, 2008

The Shuttle hits a double

Quite astonishing that our local paper has managed to shoot out two stories that I've been talking about for ages, no wait they're actually letters from readers they've just published.

The first is complaining about the potholes in Kidderminster oh no wait Stourport does get a brief mention too, though I've no idea why it's not as if we have any potholes here.

My favourite quote is from Mr Shrimpton who blames the fast deterioration on rains and snap freezes… no I think the blame can be laid on simple shovelling in a bit of fill and slapping some tarmac on the top before calling it a day. Okay a little unfair the weather does have some influence, but when some of these holes aren't even sealed then what do you expect?

The second letter highlights the problems with Gilgal, but really has some bearing on the entire road layout of Stourport. I've commented there, but I'll reiterate and reorder my thoughts here.

As has been mentioned several times before Stourport is one big one-way system that feeds back into itself; this means a block at one point can screw-up the entire system. Sadly the roads were simply not designed to take the volumes of traffic they normally see and hold-ups become a way of life for those of us using them.

View Larger Map

Let's start with Bridge Street. This should be trouble-free it's just a standard two-lane bi-directional flow, except now due to the parking bays and the position of the lane divider those heading up into town must give-way to those coming from town. While this problem, in theory, existed prior to the painting of the parking bays it has now been made explicit; combine that with a pedestrian crossing with a mind-numbing long wait period and traffic will start to slow down and build up.

It gets little better when you hit the junction at the top, which was turned into a mini-island quite some time ago. Due to this traffic from York Street has right-of way over traffic from Bridge Street when crossing over to New Street. As this option is barely made noticeable such traffic treats this junction as a simple left-turn and fails to indicate; the Bridge Street traffic stutters at this point.

New Street is again a simple two-lane bi-directional set-up with the added burden of a set of traffic bays in the left-hand lane approaching the island. Thus anyone turning into here from that side runs the possibility of meeting another vehicle driving up the middle of the road. Like those in Bridge Street drivers in New Street are presented with the same problem of traffic from York Street not indicating, thus they may think they can exit because the Bridge Street traffic will be halted by the crossing York Street vehicle only to find it isn't and hasn't.

High Street a two-lane one-way system, except it's not two-lanes; or it might be? The lane divider peters out past the island and only re-starts at the other end of the street. No signs indicate the lack of road markings, thus strictly speaking this is one big merger lane with the priority going to whoever gets in first. The traffic wardens have done a good job in keeping the right-hand 'lane' clear, which was the main bone of contention, yet the majority of traffic sticks to the middle of the road just in case (besides as mentioned it is really one lane). Problems can arise with the indented bus-stop that doesn't allow the longer buses to fully pull into it, or allow more then one short bus to use it at the same time. These buses then 'park' outside the stop thus blocking the left-hand 'lane'.

Into Vale Road a three-lane one-way system. Heading from High Street you can travel straight into the first lane, the other feed road (Mitton Street) has priority over the other two lanes. Because of this it is impossible to know whether a vehicle entering Vale Road from Mitton Street will move into lane 2 or lane 3 (they're not changing lanes so no requirement to indicate) for any vehicle trying to change from lane 1 into lane 3 this makes life difficult with a large flow of traffic.

Just for fun add in two petrol stations off lane 1, oh and a non-indented bus stop before all that.

Onto Gilgal, which is a two-lane one-way system. Zoom in on the above map in satellite mode without labels and you'll see the problem. Traffic flowing from the Minster Road traffic lights has an easy ride of this, a simple downhill curve to the left, it's also exceedingly easy to switch from the left-hand lane to the right-hand lane as it's on the same curve. Compare to the curve if you head from Vale Road and it's not as simple - a tight corner on the brow of a hill and an easier corner to take if you move directly to the left-hand lane.

So one feed that allows easy access to both lanes and another that's easier if you pick the lane you're don't have priority for - predictions anyone?

Moving downhill it's also noticeable that this road isn't straight, it is also quite narrow and gets narrower, then splits into two directions. Now note that the left-hand lane goes round a 90° degree corner over a narrow bridge before screeching to a halt at another poorly designed island. If I now mention that the majority of morning traffic is heading in this direction predict the actions of those heading from Vale Road to use this lane.

Onto Mitton Street, which is another two-lane one-way system that shares many of its flaws with Gilgal. Traffic feeding in from Worcester Road into the left-hand lane faces another tight corner while those feeding from Gilgal have a simple curve. The road is again narrow with yet another tight corner in the middle of it. Add in that this road has businesses on it and thus parked vehicles and you may wonder how this can function as a merger system at all.

Into Lion Hill and here we do have a two-lane one-way system that should work. Both feeds from Mitton Street and High Street have the same 90° corner, the road is reasonably straight and runs for a moderate distance; note I said should.

Gradient plays its part - traffic from Mitton Street is heading uphill, High Street downhill. The likelihood of finding a parked car in the left-hand lane is much higher then for the right-hand lane and no you can't see until you've turned the corner and committed yourself. Like Gilgal the majority of traffic wants to use the same lane in this case the right-hand one and queues build up down York Street and feed into this lane.

York Street, like High Street a possible two-lane one-way system though in this case the missing lane divider is due to simply not re-painting it, flecks still exist. This should be the easiest road in the town, the only other feeder is from the low-volume Lichfield Street which can't use its priority in the left-hand lane due to the recent moving of a set of parking bays directly in its path; nevertheless it still has that priority and thus traffic flowing from Lion Hill should remain in the right-hand 'lane'.

The road is wide enough to accommodate a set of parking bays down its left-hand side, unfortunately it has vehicles legally (semi-legally) parking down the right-hand side too. So again like High Street all traffic heads down the middle of the road until it reaches the island. Here the left-hand lane gets blocked by the bus stop and the right-hand lane gets blocked because of the vehicles parking opposite the bus stop.

Those vehicles who've managed to remain in the right-hand lane can now turn sharply into the right-hand 'lane' of High Street. Those in the left-hand lane cannot see what the traffic coming up Bridge Street is doing and thus has to assume then whenever a vehicle is trying to turn right out of New Street has right-of-way over them before they can make a sharp turn left. Those heading into New Street will find that most local Bridge Street traffic will ignore the fact they aren't signalling to turn left, because no-body does.

I won't even begin on the fun to be had when you get a longer vehicle trying to turn in either direction out of York Street.

So that's Stourport a small mix of bad driving on a road system not designed for the load it's carrying. Come and visit why don't you, just um don't drive here.


Anonymous said...

What in the name of God…?

Seriously, doesn't anybody ever plan this stuff? Joking aside, you do have to wonder how in the name of God anybody could think some of these arrangements are a remotely good idea…

Fancy a trip to MK sometime, old bean? All the roads are in virtually straight lines. And they're numbered sequentially. Oh, I hope you like roundabouts… ;-)

Just my 2p. It is St Flip's day after all…

FlipC said...

'Hey I've an idea let's firm up this old cow track we've been using to herd our animals into town' Seems to be the basis of every non-motorway road in the UK. I think the only straight roads we have here were originally based on the old Roman Roads

Oh and thanks for the tuppence

Anonymous said...

...prudently, fruitfully, frugally invested in the - to be specific in the Dawes, Tomes, Mousely, Grubbs, Fidelity Fiduciary Flip.

Needless to say, I used mine to feed the birds.