A covert traffic survey organised by a residents’ group has shown cars speeding at more than 55mph through the village, in contrast to Calderdale’s radar gun survey.
The council’s survey suggested average speeds of only 12-13mph but the residents’ group believes this was due to the way the speeds were measured. Full statement below from Heptonstall Traffic, Parking & Road Safety Group
Results of a traffic speed survey carried out in Towngate and Smithwell Lane over the period 20-26th June 2013.
Residents have long complained of the non-compliance of drivers with the 20mph speed zone through Towngate and Smithwell Lane. These complaints have grown in both number and volume since the Lee Wood Road closure forced increased traffic through the Village and serious road safety concerns have been voiced by an increasing number of the wider local community.
The Group and the Parish Council have repeatedly taken up these concerns with Calderdale Council, first to try to obtain effective speed zone enforcement and second to get effective traffic calming measures in place. The Council’s response has been to carry out some sporadic SiD/Radar gun surveys, the latest of which suggested average speeds of 12-13mph, maximum speeds of 20mph and 85 percentile speeds (the parameter used for determining speed limits) of 14-16mph. As a consequence of these results Calderdale Council proposed to take no further action.
To try to resolve this conflict between residents’ and Calderdale Council’s views and because in our opinion the Calderdale surveys are unreliable (random days & locations, short time periods, SiD/Radar gun visibility slows drivers down) the Group, with Parish Council support, decided to carry out its own more systematic, comprehensive and covert survey.
Our objective was to provide hard evidence either, that drivers are compliant with the 20mph limit and that therefore residents have no cause for concern or, that drivers are not compliant and that therefore some enforcement and/or traffic calming action is needed from Calderdale.
The speed survey was carried out over the seven day period 20th – 26th June 2013 by Leeds City Council, which is contracted by Calderdale Council to carry out similar work for them. Traffic volume and speed data was collected by hour, for 24 hours per day in 5mph wide ‘bins’ from 0 to 60mph, using pneumatic tube sensors across the road and battery operated electronic recording equipment – a more discrete method of measurement than radar guns/SiD and much less likely to impact on normal driving speeds.
Measurement was carried out for both ‘up’ (Northbound) and ‘down’ (Southbound) traffic at three points: at the start of the ‘cobbles’ just uphill of the junction with Valley View Road (ie inside the 20mph zone at the lower entry to the Village); at the junction of Silver Street with Smithwell Lane; and, at the Lodge/Sandal House entrance drive (ie inside the 20mph zone at the upper entry to the Village). Unfortunately, due to technical problems, the Silver Street equipment delivered only 3 full days of results but the other equipments delivered a full 7 days of results and we consider we have more than adequate data to draw some robust conclusions.
The survey produced a mass of data and analysis of it is on-going but a brief summary of salient facts of immediate interest is provided in the table overleaf. The most striking facts to emerge are:
• 800-900 vehicles travel up and down Towngate/Smithwell Lane per day (reducing to 500-600 at week-ends);
• Of these 8-12% exceed the 20mph speed limit at the lower end of the Village, 7-9% do so at Silver Street and 32-33% exceed the limit at the upper end;
• Amazingly, at the lower end of the Village 5 vehicles were recorded travelling at more than 45mph, of which 2 were exceeding 55mph, whilst at Silver Street (in just three days) 3 were recorded at more than 40mph and, at the upper end of the Village, 11 were exceeding 40mph, of which 3 were exceeding 55mph.
We consider the results of the survey lend substantive weight to the views of residents, that there is considerable non-compliance with the 20mph speed zone and that a significant number of vehicles are being driven at dangerously high speeds through the Village. It is our intention to use the evidence generated to try to persuade Calderdale Council to take effective action to achieve driver compliance with the 20mph zone.