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What has happened to the European idea?

South Beds FoE totally supports the need to improve the situation with the traffic lights as the congestion is crippling the town. But there are many examples of shared space Best Practice in Europe and here in this country (in Hertfordshire). It would be perfectly possible to make sure that traffic flows smoothly and that pedestrians and cyclists are safe.

Why can't we do this here? This could also go with a push for improving walking, cycling and buses in the town. In Darlington,  Worcester and Peterborough, car use has recently dropped by between 10% and 14% through the promotion of sustainable transport. A 10% drop in traffic could really help Leighton.

Just turning off the traffic lights without traffic calming will make it very unsafe for children and vulnerable people. Therefore lots of parents will start driving their children to school making it much more congested and there is a chance that if a child is killed on the way to school and the council has not provided a safe crossing, that the council would be liable to very heavy penalty fines as well as being found responsible for the death of a child.

In the early summer there was discussion about the European model and I really thought that things were moving forward and that with a change of council we would get improvements to Leighton -Linslade. Removing the traffic lights and implementing traffic calming along the principles of shared space, which has been done so successfully in Europe would be so straightforward and would keep everybody happy.

There is work going on in Beds CC to link all the traffic lights together and introduce proper phasing of the lights, why can't this be made a priority and trialled and then consultations come in on traffic calming. With the bypass there is no need for any through traffic and with the Lorry ban, this is a real chance to really improve Leighton, and to make Leighton Buzzard a national leader in creating a pleasant urban area.

Please  -  let’s go for traffic calming and a sensible plan which keeps children safe, reduces congestion and makes Leighton a nice place to visit  -  and saves our town centre. 

Wing Road/Old Road junction

Shenley Road, Borehamwood, Hertfordshire

Traffic calming on a main road

Borehamwood, a large town in Hertfordshire, is situated north-west of London between the M1 and the A1. Shenley Road is the main road through Borehamwood and the only through route for traffic, carrying more than 1000 vehicles per hour.

Shenley Road is also an important local shopping centre, which used to suffer from many of the problems associated with a traffic-dominated main road. It was a noisy, polluted, unpleasant street and congestion, illegal parking and street clutter were major problems. In the evening, when the road was clear, traffic speeds were high.


Experimental scheme

In 1989 an experimental scheme was proposed for part of Shenley Road to tackle the traffic problems and improve the local environment. The success of this scheme, and its acceptance by the public, led to it being extended along the entire road.

Shenley Road was redesigned around the needs of pedestrians, making it safer for people to cross the road whilst still allowing traffic through. Raised tables at regular intervals and a central refuge along the length of the road make it easy for pedestrians to cross. The majority of drivers stop at the raised tables when pedestrians want to cross.  


Eye contact

The slow traffic speeds allow eye contact to be made between drivers and pedestrians and this is a key factor in the scheme’s success. The central refuge is wider where the raised tables occur to encourage pedestrians to cross at these points. However, people can cross almost wherever they like due to the slow traffic speeds.

Signal-controlled junctions were replaced with more informal mini-roundabouts, resulting in smoother traffic flow and less congestion. Trees, seats, cycle racks, play equipment, attractive paving and street lamps have helped create a more pleasant and sociable environment.


Key features

  • Pavements were widened and carriageways narrowed.

  • Raised tables were built at regular intervals along the road. These slow traffic down and serve as informal crossing points for pedestrians.

  • Signs warn motorists that pedestrians may cross at raised tables.

  • The raised tables are level with the pavement so it is easy for people with pushchairs and people in wheelchairs to cross the road.

  • When the scheme was implemented, users of the street were advised that it was necessary to ‘make eye contact’ with drivers.

  • A low central reserve was implemented along the entire length of the street, enabling people to cross at places other than the raised tables.

  • Marked bays were provided for parking and raised bays provided for loading.

  • Raised parking bays were provided for disabled drivers.

  • Traffic speeds have fallen and pedestrians find the street easier to cross.


Friends of the Earth