A48 Improvement

  • The A48 dominates St Nicholas, bringing noise and danger.
  • Many vehicles have been recorded at speeds far in excess of the speed limit
  • Footpaths are narrower than desired minimums and the road is wider than it needs to be

In the UK as a whole, a third of road deaths (around 1,300 per 
year) are the result of excessive or inappropriate speed.  If 
applied to Wales, this would translate to around 70 people killed
every year through excessive or inappropriate speed. - Road Safety Strategy for Wales, 2003

The 'Main Road'
Today, the A48 dominates much of St Nicholas severing the village into two.  This has not always been the case and need not be the case in the near future.  The A48 carries 15,000 vehicles a day though the village, contributing noise, particulate matter, other pollutants and danger to the local environment.  Recent studies by the council have revealed that very few people are obeying the villages clearly signed 30 mph speed limit.  Only 2% of vehicles exiting the village to the east are still within the speed limit, and some vehicles have accelerated to speeds in excess of 100 mph before they leave the village.

A study found that in just one week far into the village, 50 metres from the village school, 28,162 vehicles were exceeding 34 mph, 3,211 were exceeding 44 mph and 151 were traveling at at least double the speed limit.

The 2009 Conservation Area Appraisal and Management Plan notes a number of negative factors that detract from the Conservation Area, including:
•  The A48 dominates the village and provides busy traffic which often appears to ignore the 30 mph speed limit through the village; 
•  Wide road and narrow pavements, providing little protection to pedestrians; 

Recent research and thinking has resulted in new ideas regarding community severance, and safety that have proved to be successful.  Many of these have been adopted by the Department for Transport (DfT) in their publication 'Manual for Streets' - however, the Vale of Glamorgan Council continue to refer to the 'Manual for Roads and Bridges' when discussing the A48 through St Nicholas.

This modern thinking is clear that streets should not just be considered to be transport corridors, as is the case with the A48, and roads should not be allowed to dominate the urban environment.  Vehicles passing through St Nicholas should be "guests", treated and behaving accordingly, and not dominating the place.  This is graphicly illustrated below, with the situation today to the left, and where we need to be on the right, with the A48 ending at each of the village gateways, and vehicles continuing through St Nicholas as guests.

Considerable research has been conducted into how humans behave depending on the environment in which they are.  The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2010) states:

The road environment gives road users instruction, warning and information about the safest way to use the road.

Drivers‟ and riders‟ choice of speed is partly dependent on the characteristics of the road on which they are travelling. Their perception of what is a safe speed on a particular road can often differ from that of other road users, such as pedestrians, pedal cyclists and horse riders, and will often under-estimate the actual level of risk. For example, wide straight roads tend to encourage higher speeds, and thereby increase the likelihood of collisions and their severity.

It is crucial, therefore, that the road environment provides appropriate visual information to the people using it.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2010) encourage psychological traffic calming in villages through narrowing the road, and widening pavements to a minimum of 2 meters (St Nicholas pavements are typically 1.2 metres wide), village gateways,  changing the colour of the road surface.
Road Width
As old photos show, the A48 through the village was built as a wide, three lane road, with updated road markings reducing the road to two lanes, but the excessive 10m width remains.  Research in the 'Manual for Streets' associated road widths and sightlines with vehicle speeds - wider roads, a lack of parked vehicles and longer sight lines all encourage higher speeds.  The effectiveness of signage is limited, given peoples tendency to travel at speeds that minimise their journey times and interact with their immediate environment.

The A48 through St Nicholas is 9.8 metres by the former police station, and at its narrowest point by the former post office, is 7.7 metres wide.  As it goes up the hill to Trehill, the A48 is 9 metres wide and then widens again to 10 metres as it exist the village.

By comparison, at its narrowest point, Five-Mile Lane (according to the Welsh Government) is 5.6 metres wide. In cardiff, Ninian Park Road, approaching the bus station is 8m wide, but 2 metres are lost to the width of parked cars, 0.5 metres forms a buffer between the parked cars and the roadway, thus leaving just 5.5 metres for buses, lorries, etc. going to and from the bus station.

The Scottish Government's INTERVENTIONS FOR RURAL ROADS states: 
3.56 In research into road appearance which involved showing pictures in a questionnaire survey (Highways Agency, 2002), carriageway narrowing was found to reduce mean estimated driving speeds by as much as 7mph in one location. Other research projects in which reported speed has been measured (e.g. Fildes et al., 1987), and in which actual vehicle speeds have been measured (e.g. Kolsrud, 1985; Vey and Ferreri, 1968; Yagar and Van Aerde, 1983) support this finding.

The DfT's Manual for Streets (2007) suggests that 5.5 metres is wide enough for heavy street traffic as illustrated in this figure:

Based on the UK's Manual for Streets (2007), Ireland's Design Manual for Urban Roads (2013) and Streets recommends the following road widths:

The Design Manual for Urban Roads states: Research from the UK has found that narrow carriageways are one of the most effective design measures that calm traffic. 

The standard lane width on Arterial and Link Streets should be 3.25m. Lane widths may be increased to 3.5m on Arterial and Link streets where frequent access for larger vehicles is required, there is no median and the total carriageway width does not exceed 7m.  

Lane widths may be reduced to 3m on those Arterial and Link streets where lower design speeds are being applied, such as in Centres and where access for larger vehicles is only occasionally required.

The Northern Ireland Government's  document, Creating Places - achieving quality in residential developments - May 2000, says:
The minimum carriageway width of a local distributor road that will serve as a bus route is 6.7m where bus lay-bys are provided, and 7.3m wide when lay-bys are not provided. A minimum carriageway width of 6m will be required where access roads carry buses.
Note: These widths from 2000, are superseded by the widths from The Design Manual for Urban Roads (2013).
The Design Manual for Roads and Bridges, Vol 7: Pavement Design and Maintenance (HD 39/01) gives a recommended minimum pavement width of 2 metres, with an extreme limit of 1.3 metres - the Vale of Glamorgan operate a minimum of 1.2 metres.

It also states that, " A minimum of 2m width is required which could usefully be increased to 2.5m to provide space for cyclists to overtake pedestrians."

The widths of footways (or lack of) through St Nicholas were criticised in the councils appraisal of the Conservation Area.

Footway widths are shown here as illustrated in the Manual for Streets:

In it's document "Inclusive Mobility, the DfT says of footways:
A clear width of 2000mm allows two wheelchairs to pass one another comfortably. This should be regarded as the minimum under normal circumstances. Where this is not possible because of physical constraints 1500mm could be regarded as the minimum acceptable under most circumstances, giving sufficient space for a wheelchair user and a walker to pass one another.

Where a cycle track runs alongside a footway or a footpath best practice is to physically segregate the two as advocated in Local Transport Note (LTN) 2/86 Shared Use by Cyclists and Pedestrians. 

In St Nicholas, the footway from the former post office eastwards is generally between 1.2 and 1.3 metres wide, narrowing to just 0.7 metres behind the bus shelter at the bus stop.  This means that the bus shelter and eastbound bus stop is inaccessible to a wheelchair user - including everyone living down Duffryn Lane.

The southern footway east of Duffryn Lane is a little wider at 1.3 metres.

Given the speeds of traffic, is walking along the narrow footpaths of St Nicholas a pleasant, safe experience?

Village Gateway
Department for Transport Circular 01/2013 - Setting Local Speed Limits
138.  If there are high approach speeds to a village, or the start of the village 
is not obvious, village gateway treatments can also be an effective way to 
slow drivers down. Advice can be found in Local Transport Note 1/07 
Traffic Calming (DfT, 2007) and Traffic Advisory Leaflets 01/94 VISP – A 
Summary (DoT, 1994a) and 01/04 Village Speed Limits (DfT, 2004).
A well designed gateway will communicate to people that they are leaving a rural road and entering a village - it also prevents/deters overtaking within the village prior to exiting the village.

The deflection requires drivers to be driving at an appropriate speed for the street ahead, or to adjust accordingly.

An island can be aesthetically pleasing and provide refuge for pedestrians.

Gateways are supported by the The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2010) who state:

“Village  Gateways”  are  another  way  to  inform  drivers  that  they  are  entering  an 
environment  that  is  likely  to  include  vulnerable  road  users  and  so  they  need  to 
reduce  their  speed.  They  can  consist  of  natural  features  (such  as  verges)  and/or 
artificial features (such as chicanes). They normally include distinctive signs and road 
markings. “Gateways” need to be in sight of the village so the driver understands and 
can see why the limit is changing. Vehicle Activated Signs can also be a prominent 
“Gateways” have only a limited effect and need to work in tandem with road safety measures within the village itself. Installing mini-roundabouts, narrowing the road and constant signage on speed limits, can control driver speed.

The Scottish Government's INTERVENTIONS FOR RURAL ROADS states: 
4.61 A number of TRL research studies have investigated the effect of different village gateway schemes on vehicle speeds (e.g. Wheeler, Taylor & Payne, 1993; Wheeler, Taylor & Barker, 1994, Wheeler & Taylor, 1999). Gateways with simple signing and marking measures may reduce mean speeds by about 1-2mph, whilst more comprehensive gateway measures with high visual impact (e.g. coloured road surfacing and dragon teeth) may reduce mean speeds by 5-7mph. When physical measures have been used at gateways (e.g. narrowing), even greater reductions in mean speeds have been found, up to about 10mph.

4.63 Measures need to be continued beyond the gateway in order to maintain speed reductions through the village itself. 

A Dutch example - note: designed for entering a 20 mph zone, not 30 mph

Speed Limit
Due to the concealed junctions north of the A48 to each side of the former post office, reducing the speed limit to 20 mph between the Three Tuns and Pwll Sarn Farm should be considered.  The benefits include reduced noise, particularly for residents in the cottages close to the road, reduced particulate matter (PM2.5) and a reduction in injury severity should a collision occur.  An informal crossing for the church hall could then be considered.

Peterston-Super-Ely is attempting to implement a 20 mph zone, which has been discussed and promoted by the community council and residents.  There is even an online petition.  When people reduce their speeds, noise, pollution and danger will be reduced, which is particularly beneficial when children are arriving at or leaving the school.

The school and narrow concealed entrances to the village, plus the close proximity of dwellings to the street make a 20 mph zone a worthwhile consideration.

Department for Transport Circular 01/2013 - Setting Local Speed Limits
Traffic authorities can, over time, introduce 20mph speed limits or zones on:
  • Major streets where there are – or could be - significant numbers of journeys on foot, and/or where pedal cycle movements are an important consideration, and this outweighs the disadvantage of longer journey times for motorised traffic. 
132. It may also be appropriate to consider 20 mph limits or zones in built-up village streets which are primarily residential in nature, or where pedestrian and cyclist movements are high. [BUT] Such limits should not, however, be considered on roads with a strategic function or where the movement of motor vehicles is the primary function.
133. Traffic Advisory Leaflet 01/04 (DfT, 2004) sets out policy on achieving lower speed limits in villages.
The European Conference of Transport Ministers and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development recommend taking noise into account along with the wider benefits of speed reduction, such as safety, when setting speed limits: “Appropriate speed limits should also take into consideration noise levels generated by traffic for people living in the surroundings.”

A reduction of the speed limit to 20 mph would reduce noise by 2 dB - UK Noise Association. 
Road Markings
Studies have found that removing the central white line fro the road results in speeds more appropriate to the immediate urban environment.  On the straight stretches of road, the central white lines could be removed. 

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (2010) state:
Removal of the centre line can create a sense of uncertainty and encourage road users to take a slower speed in some circumstances.
Informal crossings are increasingly being built on streets, especially in areas where the speed limit has been reduced to 20 mph.  Informal crossings could be built to connect the northern village to the church hall, with other informal crossings in the east of the village (linking the north and south country footpaths) and Trehill.
Informal crossings can be built with or without the pedestrian refuge island.

Buffering the Pavement

Planting strips along roads can be used to buffer the pavements/cycleways from motorised vehicles, preventing pavement parking, providing water permeability, reducing dust and slowing any vehicle that leaves the road.

To prioritise pedestrian comfort and safety, the road would be narrowed to 6-7 metres and pavements widened - there is minimal HGV traffic through St Nicholas. To prioritise road capacity and speeds, the road would remain as it is as now, or be reduced to a minimum of 7.3 metres.

Narrowing the road to increase the footway to the south of the A48 east of the pedestrian crossing and to the north west of the pedestrian crossing would provide space for bicycle facilities that link the village and school to Bonvilston and The Downs - improvements required for the rural pathways.  

A 20 mph zone would reduce noise and pollution and improve safety, especially for children attending the village school.

Dyffryn Lane

It's clear that if people are to walk in comfort and safety from St Nicholas to Duffryn House and gardens, the speed limit along Duffryn Lane needs to be reduced, to a maximum of 40 mph - or lower.

The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents, 2010 -  Rural Road Environment Policy Paper