By-pass speeding offences hit new heights

Photo of a 30mph sign on the Stoke Gifford By-Pass (September 2018). Photo of a 30mph speed limit sign on the Stoke Gifford By-Pass (May 2019).

Police mobile speed camera vans that pay regular visits to enforce the controversial 30mph limit on the Stoke Gifford By-Pass have detected the tenth highest number of offences across all speed camera sites in South Gloucestershire during the 2017 to 2018 financial year, the Journal can reveal.

And despite enforcement at the site being active only for the final six months of the year, it has detected the highest number of speeding offences across all mobile camera locations within the district.

The startling conclusions can be drawn from the response to a Freedom of Information request recently published by Avon and Somerset Police, which shows that 658 notices of intended prosecution were issued in relation to the Stoke Gifford site for offences detected over the period 21st September 2018 (when enforcement commenced) to 31st March 2019.

Comparing this figure to the previously reported 307 offences recorded up to 22nd January 2019, the data also shows that the rate of detection accelerated significantly in the final two months of the financial year.

The news comes just as South Gloucestershire Council (SGC) has complied with an obligation to provide a formal response to a resident’s petition calling for the speed limit on the by-pass to be raised because “it has a speed limit that quite drastically does not match the engineering standard of the road”.

Alex Hosking’s petition ran on the SGC website from 22nd January 2019 to 23rd April 2019 and attracted 527 signatures.

Several Journal readers have commented that although the by-pass is a wide road, sweeping across open countryside for half-a-mile from its junction with Hambrook Lane to the A4174 Ring Road, it has a speed limit that is lower than the main road through densely populated parts of nearby Bradley Stoke.

Travelling south from Parkway North Roundabout (near Nuffield Health), the by-pass (officially named Rosedown Avenue) initially has a 40mph speed limit before changing to 30mph shortly before the traffic light-controlled junction with Hambrook Lane.

Between Hambrook Lane and the Oxleigh Way traffic lights (entrance to Highbrook Park) the road has the appearance of one which might be expected to have a higher speed limit of at least 40mph, save for the presence of street lighting columns.

Several readers who have been caught exceeding the speed limit have complained that the signage is inadequate, with just one set of signs at each end of the 30mph stretch. SGC has previously stated that legislation prevents it installing ‘repeater’ signs at intermediate locations. It has however, recently added yellow backing boards to the existing signs (see photos above), bringing them in line with nearly all other speed limit signs on roads in the immediate vicinity. Small ‘speed camera’ logo signs have also been added and there are plans to paint more 30mph ‘roundels’ on the road surface.

A further measure that the council has used to heighten awareness of the 30mph limit is the occasional use of a vehicle-activated speed reminder sign.

Despite all the awareness and enforcement measures, some readers who have attempted to stick to the 30mph limit say they have experienced intimidatory tailgating or been subject to dangerous passing manoeuvres.

Reacting to the council’s response to his petition, Mr Hosking said:

“If the speed limit is set correctly, you shouldn’t need yellow backing boards and speed camera logos. That just seems to be an admittance that there is an issue. If the speed limit is set correctly, most drivers should naturally not feel comfortable exceeding that speed.”

“It still doesn’t really sound to me that the road is of a lower standard than many of the other 40mph limit urban roads in the district, especially like the road through Hambrook, where despite the 40mph speed limit, I’d be unlikely to go that fast. It just feels too fast to go at the speed limit there most of the time, unless I intended to drive recklessly. That’s exactly how a speed limit should work.”

SGC’s response to the petition ‘Raise the speed limit on the Stoke Gifford By-Pass’, which attracted 529 signatures

During the road design, it was established that existing site constraints meant that the vertical and horizontal alignment on the southern part of the by-pass fell below the desirable minimum for a road with a speed limit above 30mph, as specified in national standards. The 30mph speed limit was applied as a mitigation measure, which was envisaged to be an appropriate length as it was anticipated that the [housing] development on the southern part of the by-pass would have followed more closely than it has, thus naturally reducing traffic speeds.

This development will be accessed from Hambrook Lane and two new signalised junctions (one 4-arm crossroads and one 3-arm junction) on the by-pass between the Hambrook Lane junction and Oxleigh Way. Pedestrian/ cycle crossings on the by-pass are proposed at both new junctions in addition to those already present at Hambrook Lane and Oxleigh Way.

Although there will be no frontage access from driveways onto the by-pass, the presence of four signalised junctions in a relatively short distance should make the character of the road feel more urban and traffic speeds should reduce. Works are expected to start on the new junctions this year.

You may be aware that the ‘30’ speed limit terminal signage on the by-pass has recently been upgraded by the addition of yellow backing boards. Speed camera logo signs have also been erected to inform road users of the possible presence of enforcement cameras. It is also proposed to lay ‘30’ markings on the road surface (known as ‘roundels’) at the southern end of the by-pass next to the speed limit terminal signs as an extra indication of the speed limit.

Photos: Yellow backing boards have been added to the speed limit signs (l-r: same location in September 2018 and May 2019).

This article originally appeared in the June 2019 issue of the Stoke Gifford Journal magazine (on pages 8 & 9). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH, to over 5,000 homes in Stoke Gifford, Little Stoke and Harry Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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  1. It should also be noted that the average speed is (according to SGC’s own data) 6mph higher on the 30mph section of this road than it is on the 40mph section, yes you did read that right.

    It’s not that people are more likely to observe a rule they perceive as reasonable rather than ignore it, although that might have something to with.

    Speed limits have been shown consistently to have very little effect on the speed most people drive at, that’s dictated more by the road engineering and the conditions at the time.

    That’s why some roads will have very high compliance and other roads very low, it depends if traffic speeds been used to asses what speed most people drive at and then used that as a basis for setting the speed limit, or if councilour X has just decided what the speed limit to win votes from people who don’t have very good knowledge of how and why speed limits are set and just assume that lower must always equal safer until you get speed limits that have very little relation to what most motorists would perceive as a safe speed to travel and come across more and more irrelevant.

    The addition of houses on this road is not going to make it a lower standard than many other urban 40 limits in the county, they will only make it more important that pedestrians are given a more realistic expectation of traffic speed, and 40mph repeaters cause people to take more care crossing.

  2. Is there any data on the number of reported or fatal accidents on this by-pass? It would be interesting to know SGC’s response if it is a low figure – when the number of speeding offences is the highest in the county and the accident figure is low (assuming it is of course) it can’t be unsafe, so something else must be wrong…

    SGC do seem to be completely deaf to opinions of others. The Hatchet Road bus lane debacle being a good example.

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