Bridgend Pedestrianisation Report Released

                                      (Pic: IComply)

As reported in this week’s Glamorgan Gazette, Bridgend Council are to discuss a much-anticipated report from Capita on the potential part de-pedestrianisation of Bridgend town centre (pdf).

I’m going to guess none of you are going to want to go through the report yourselves, so….

General Overview

Ever since the vast bulk of Bridgend town centre’s streets were pedestrianised in 2004, town centre traders have been worried that a combination of easy-to-reach out-of-town shopping parks and a lack of facilities to drop people off in the town centre have led to declines in footfall.

At present, Bridgend town centre’s main shopping streets are pedestrianised between 10am and 6pm, with cars prevented from entering the town centre through rising bollards at the main entry points.

While pedestrianisation has clearly improved the look of the streets, the concerns of traders and Bridgend town councillors over the negative economic impacts of pedestrianisation grew louder.

Towards the end of 2015, Suzy Davies AM (Con, South Wales West) launched a petition calling for BCBC to consider de-pedestrianisation of Queen Street, Dunraven Place and Market Street. In the Gazette, Suzy’s quoted as welcoming the report and encouraging the public to take part in any consultation once it’s launched.

Road Accidents Pre & Post-Pedestrianisation

One of the major concerns BCBC have about de-pedestrianisation is the possible impact on road safety. As I’ve said before, prior to pedestrianisation and the construction of the A4061 relief road Bridgend was a pretty dangerous place to be a pedestrian.

Capita compared accident records for the proposed de-pedestrianised route (Queen Street, Dunraven Place, Market Street) from prior to pedestrianisation but after the relief road was built to after pedestrianisation.

Before pedestrianisation (2000-2003) :

  • 13 casualties : 8 pedestrians, 4 drivers, 1 passenger in a vehicle and 1 cyclist.
  • 7 accidents involved a pedestrian-vehicle collision, 2 were collisions between vehicles, 1 was a car-motorcycle collision, 1 was a car-cyclist collision and 1 only involved a single vehicle.
  • 3 accidents were caused by pedestrians or cyclists crossing or turning, 4 were caused by reversing (1 being a combination of reversing and someone crossing between vehicles), 2 were caused by shunts, 2 were due to careless driving, 1 was exclusively due to someone crossing between vehicles, 1 was due to loss of control by the driver.
  • 7 accidents occurred during the day and 6 at night.

After pedestrianisation (2004-2014) :
  • 3 casualties : 3 pedestrians.
  • All 3 involved pedestrian-vehicle collisions during non-pedestrianised hours (6pm-10am).
  • 1 was caused by reversing, 1 by careless driving, 1 by a pedestrian crossing.
  • 2 accidents occurred during the day, 1 at night.

Potential Options & Costs

Option 1: Signing & Road Marking Changes – As suggesting, signing and road markings would be changed to mark de-pedestrianisation. This would require minimal works to the streets themselves. There would be an issue with the visually-impaired not being able to adequately tell where the kerb ends and the carriageway begins due to dropped kerbs. 2 puffin crossings would be installed (£80,000). It’s estimated to cost £247,000 and would take 3 months to complete.

Option 2: Tactile paving between the kerb and road – This would include the crossing options and markings as Option 1, but would also include tactile paving (like those at the edge of a railway platform) to mark the edge of the kerb. It would cost £350,000 and take 4 months to complete.

Option 3: Bollards and street furniture to separate kerb from road – Again this would include the puffin crossings and road marking from Option 1. Instead of tactile paving, bollards or street furniture (i.e. railings) would be provided along the length of the kerb to physically prevent vehicles mounting the kerb whilst still allowing pedestrians to walk between bollards. Again, there would be a risk with the visually-impaired. It would cost £552,000 and take 3 months to complete.

Option 4: Raising the kerb to normal road standards (60mm) – Again this would include the puffin crossings and road marking from Option 1. The kerb would be raised (or the roadway lowered) to provide a clear distinction between the road and the pavement. It would also allow traditional speed-control measures like speed humps to be introduced. It would be the most disruptive option, costing £855,000 and taking 12 months to complete.

Alternative or additional options to de-pedestrianisation proposals include :

  • Reducing the number of hours pedestrianisation is in effect to 11am-3pm. This way it wouldn’t affect shoppers as much, but would still enable traffic to enter during trading hours.
  • Reversing the current one-way directions on Wyndham Street and Caroline Street to prevent deliveries etc. using either street as a short cut to Nolton Street.
  • Changing traffic orders to allow the existing loading bays to be used for customer parking during trading hours. 11 spaces could be provided in total.
  • Lowering the speed limit in the town centre to 20mph from the current 30mph.

The Report’s Key Conclusions
  • The risk of collisions will inevitably increase and, from a road safety perspective, the big difference in pre and post-pedestrianisation accident statistics would warrant a recommendation to keep pedestrianisation as it is.
  • Speed wasn’t a major contributory factor to accidents so it’s reasonable to assume drivers would keep to a reasonable speed along the route.
  • It’s unlikely any of the proposals would satisfy disability groups, particularly the visually-impaired. However, this would be offset by the opportunity to park closer to shops and facilities.
  • Capita say Option 1 would be the most cost-effective, but Option 3 would provide the best balance between road safety, cost and impact on existing infrastructure.
My Conclusions

Over-engineering is the British disease.

Even if the streets were reopened to traffic, I wouldn’t expect them to be heavily used. It’ll be mostly deliveries (which happens now anyway), quick drop offs, taxi pick-ups etc. I doubt many people would willingly use it as a short cut as there are other options that are quicker and more direct.

So I don’t think there’s any need for two puffin crossings on what are very narrow one-way streets – which would save £80,000 on each proposal.

I suppose I was being too optimistic that a few signs, a lower speed limit, new traffic orders and road markings would be enough and could be done for under £150,000. I’d expect traders won’t be too pleased by some of the numbers involved either as ultimately it’ll be them paying for it.

I realise these things are more difficult to engineer than they seem due to utilities etc. but whoever gets paid up to £74,000 in design fees to draw some lines on a map and copy and paste in some signs has won the jackpot in the lottery of life.