Bad road design is at the heart of our congestion problems

IT came as no surprise that a recent survey showed Nottingham to be the third-most congested city in the country.

This country needs an efficient road system to speed goods and people to their destinations if we are to be economically successful and thus provide jobs for all.

Unfortunately, it is obvious that roads are not being designed for this purpose and the survey suggests this is true in Nottingham more than almost everywhere else.

The council’s answer to this problem is primarily to stop people using their cars — “a modal shift away from the motor car and onto public transport” is the official jargon.

However, those of us who were around in the 1960s, when there were fewer cars and public transport abounded, know the difficulties when journeys involve more than one bus. The simple truth is that public transport can only economically cater for main routes.

This was a prime consideration when Lord Beeching cut back the railways, starting in 1963. Nowadays, with jobs located in so many different places, an infinite variety of bus routes would be needed to get everyone to work.

This is clearly impractical. Nor does public transport change the number of lorries carrying goods, or vehicles required by workers providing services around town.

As well as not designing to avoid congestion, at every hint of danger attempts are made to slow vehicles down. Now we have the plan to create 20 mph zones in Nottingham. Do the authorities not recognise that by definition slow-moving vehicles constitute congestion?

To slow the traffic down, physical obstacles are often put in the driver’s way, such as chicanes, humps and narrowed lanes, which are dangerous in themselves.

Consequently, safety measures not only slow vehicles down they nearly always make difficulties for drivers, resulting in the increased chance of those drivers making mistakes and having accidents.

In order to design for easy traffic flow, I would suggest a number of design features. Firstly, it is necessary to maximise the numbers of lanes, whereas at Moor Bridge in Bulwell, two lanes become one unnecessarily.

Cycle lanes should not be carved out of existing vehicle lanes making them dangerously narrow, as on Portland/Nottingham Road in Hucknall.

The use of mini-roundabouts should be avoided, as I advocated in a previous letter. Tight radii should be avoided at roundabouts and all turns, as these slow traffic and are difficult to negotiate.

The widening of roads approaching a junction from one lane to two only to reduce back to one immediately past the junction, should be banned. This does not help the traffic flow and can cause a lot of aggravation. Traffic should be directed into the correct lane at junctions instead of being given several alternatives, which cause uncertainty and thus danger.

To summarise, these design features should allow vehicles easier passageway and should also make driving easier, thus reducing the chance of driver error.

Regarding Hucknall, two road designs are good in my view. The layout of Waterloo Road, created after Linby pit closed, and the new traffic-lighted junction of Forest Road with the A60.

The worst designs are Ashgate Road, which is too narrow, and its roundabout junction with Linby Road that were created circa 2002, the new junction of Watnall Road with the B600 and the mini island on Papplewick Lane that is so tight it can only be negotiated easily by a bicycle.



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