Some implications of the proposed changes
In general the new larger zone allows for more efficient use of existing parking spaces, such as the under-utilised spaces at the top of Abbey Mill Lane. The provision of additional car parking spaces and extended hours is generally to be welcomed but there is concern that some of the proposed changes will compromise road safety, particularly in Fishpool St. Here, shifting the bays from the S to N side will remove the traffic calming chicane and improve sight lines – which is likely to lead to an increase in traffic speed.
The two additional spaces in Fishpool St opposite Welclose St are considered especially dangerous. They replace double yellow lines (presumably there for good reasons) and will obstruct sight lines at the junction: for pedestrians trying to cross there and for traffic coming from Romeland and Abbey Mill Lane. The proposed changes will not lessen the danger and congestion from School buses in the Romeland area. In fact they are likely to be increased, particularly if the two spaces in Fishpool St opposite Welclose St are used as a de facto bus stop. It is difficult to escape the conclusion that car parking here is proposed merely to provide legitimacy for another dangerous but unofficial School bus stop.
Similar considerations apply to the dual-use bay on Romeland Hill S side. The absence of a pavement there means that to load/unload the buses have to straddle the bay markings, well into the middle of the road. This further obstructs sight lines for traffic coming from Romeland and Abbey Mill Lane and reduces Romeland Hill to impassibility at times, including for emergency vehicles. Such dangers are not apparent from the drawings which show only the length of parking bays but not the actual width vehicles will occupy.
Smaller School buses and many parental cars also park with impunity on double yellow lines directly outside the School on both sides of the road by the Abbey Gateway. This obstructs sight lines to the School entrance and to Abbey Mill Lane and increases the dangers for all road users, particularly pedestrians (mostly students). This situation is likely to worsen as some of the bays at the top of Abbey Mill Lane also currently used by parents on school run duties will now find them occupied by the new zone B residents.
The proposals do nothing to address these problems. Suggestions by APRA to have the area immediately N of the Abbey Gateway marked with School Keep Clear signs and lines (so action against offenders can be taken by civil enforcement officers) have been dismissed by SADC for a variety of spurious reasons, including: that it would be unsightly and the school has not requested the restriction (probably not unconnected with its convenience for parental car parking and as a de facto School bus stop/stand).
Responses to the consultation
APRA is generally supportive of the new merged zone but has serious concerns with some important details. On the detailed changes to parking provision, APRA’s view is that:
- The two additional bays in place of double yellow lines opposite Welclose St will obstruct sight lines at the junction and so increase dangers for all road users. They should not be implemented.
- The dangers at the Welclose St junction will be increased still further when used by buses, either within the bays or on adjacent double yellow lines. So buses should not stop, wait, park, load or unload here under any circumstances.
- The presence of so many large buses and the proposed changes to the road layout in the vicinity of Romeland Gardens makes it essential that a rigorous safety audit is carried out (with a site visit in normal term time) before implementation.
- A suitably worded brief is required to make plain the nature and extent of the School bus service and the use of bus stop/stand locations around Romeland Gardens. It should consider the need for School Keep Clear signs and lines by Abbey Gateway.
SADC’s original plans for a bus stand in Romeland Gardens failed a rigorous safety audit. Despite APRA’s efforts, SADC managed to evade the recommendations of an SADC scrutiny group to carry out a safety audit of the Romeland area. APRA complaints were dismissed with a token apology. SADC is now trying to legitimise yet another dangerous de facto bus stop at the Welclose St. junction, again without a road safety audit. This cannot be considered fair and reasonable behaviour.
This is probably our last chance to get SADC to act responsibly and reasonably, to better balance the needs of residents and road users with those of the School. So along with your own comments on the proposals please use the points above, and others in the tabled summary, as you think fit, and encourage your neighbours to do so too.
Many thanks for your help.