by Amanda Russell
20’s Plenty for Faversham was officially launched as FACT on Jan 30th 2015. FACT is an acronym for “Faversham Action For Calmer Traffic”. We subsequently made the decision to become 20’s Plenty for Faversham, a branch of the national campaigning organisation to reduce speed limits to 20mph on residential roads, because reducing the speed limit is a vital first step in addressing all the issues we are concerned about.
I grew up in inner London and when I moved to Faversham in September 2013 with my two-year old son, I fully expected traffic to be less of an issue. In fact, the opposite has turned out to be true. There is less specific provision for pedestrians and cyclists, traffic calming on residential roads is non-existent and the boundaries between pedestrians, cyclists and vehicles are not always clear. I could see that there was an obvious problem, so I started to monitor what was happening more carefully and listen to what the people living here had to say about it. A year passed, another appalling fatality occurred on a zebra crossing and then a hit-and-run incident involving a school child and a Taxi. So I decided I had to do something.
There are most certainly a large number of very considerate and careful drivers here. I drive, walk and cycle in Faversham and can see that many, though not all of the problems stem from an out-dated infrastructure. However, vehicle speed is an issue.
Many of the roads and pavements in town are very narrow and obviously residential, traffic (including significant numbers of commercial vehicles and HGVs) regularly travels at dangerously high-speeds. I live on Ospringe Rd, where traffic consistently travels at speeds in excess of 30mph all day long. It is unnecessary and deeply worrying.
We are very fortunate to have several schools in town but there are no traffic calming measures, speed limiter signs, dedicated safe-crossing areas or crossing assistants outside them or on the busy roads that connect directly to them.
Pedestrian crossings are few and far between and inadequate for the diverse needs of the town. Pedestrianised alleyways provide short-cuts across town, linking residents to basic amenities such as health centres, green spaces, schools, nurseries and the town centre but they are dissected by busy major roads, with no crossing facilities linking them.
Most alarmingly, two pedestrians have died after having been knocked down on two existing zebra crossings, and yet the crossings remain largely the same and are still dangerous. Mr Stanley Taylor was knocked down on the Forbes Rd crossing in January 2014 and despite his widow, Mrs Doreen Taylor amassing 1200 names on a petition, asking for the Forbes Rd crossing to be made safer, Kent County Council refused. http://www.kentonline.co.uk/faversham/news/flower-thieves-add-to-widowed-pensioner-misery-30265/ Prior to this Mr John Hobson died from injuries sustained after being knocked down on the Whitstable Rd crossing in Dec 2012. It is important to note that neither accident is recorded as a fatality in the crash data.
The Market Square and Preston St are pedestrianised on market days between 9am and 4pm and restricted to disability and delivery access the rest of the week, yet all these restrictions are routinely flouted, which is confusing and hazardous to pedestrians.
Kent County Council need to seriously engage with this problem, to create a safer and more pleasant environment, one that strikes a better balance between motor vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists, this problem is costing lives.
Having researched various solutions to the problem and referred to other campaigning organisations such as BRAKE and 20s Plenty for Us, one of the most comprehensive and simple strategies to implement, would be a 20mph speed limit. While it wouldn’t solve all the issues, it would be an important first step and is already transforming towns and cities up and down the country. For more information on the rationale behind this, please refer to the Why 20mph? page.
We have been campaigning to raise awareness amongst residents as well as town, borough and county councillors. The Green Party agreed to make road safety in Faversham one of their three key concerns for 2015 and continue to provide their invaluable support to the campaign. In the same month FACT lobbied the Swale Local Engagement Forum, attended by town and borough councillors, including two Conservative councillors, Mike Cosgrove and Nigel Kay (also town mayor), who both pledged to “support a 20 mph speed limit across Faversham” on re-election. You can read my account of what happened at the Local Engagement Forum here.
Mostly, we need your support. Simply start driving at 20mph. It may add a few seconds to your journey time but the benefits are immense. For info on journey times at 20mph check out 20s Plenty Myth Busting info.
I know that Faversham is a truly special place; as well as being beautiful and historic it is much-loved. It benefits from a strong and active community of residents, who are connected to each other and their local environment. They are passionate about what happens in the town and many work tirelessly to make it the best it can be.
If you want to get involved, please subscribe to this blog and send me your email, stating that you would like to help with the campaign.
Please also let me know:
- roads where traffic speed is an issue for you
- roads/junctions you find difficult to cross
- where you would like to see cycle paths and bike racks
- Thanks for reading