Letters: Never mind calming, what about fining?
PUBLISHED: 11:27 09 March 2006 | UPDATED: 13:17 04 May 2010
Downham Road is the principal line of communication northwards between the city centre and the A10 trunk road. It also provides, between its roundabout with Cam Drive and the corner with Egremont Street, the most attractive approach road, lined with trees
Downham Road is the principal line of communication northwards between the city centre and the A10 trunk road. It also provides, between its roundabout with Cam Drive and the corner with Egremont Street, the most attractive approach road, lined with trees and gardens fronting ranges of quality housing plus the spaciousness of playing fields. As I write, rumour has it that there are plans afoot to introduce traffic calming. Such action will, unless it is handled very carefully and with great sensitivity, be an urban disaster.
Personally I would prefer the police, through covert operations, if necessary, cautioning, fining, and finally punishing speed-limit offenders.
If the authorities are determined to enforce their subtopian mark on our environment then there is one of the current forms that does not scar the built environment, and that is surface texturing. This requires a road surface to be laid with a patterned aggregate panel, that stretches neatly across the width and along a stretch of the road some 15 metres (48 feet) at each end of the particular area. In the case of the roundabout to Egremont Street, where the openness tends to encourage some people to put their foot down. The textured surfaces on Downham Road will be already within the statutory protected built up area but be salutary reminders to drivers to reduce their speed or face the unavoidable circumstances.
The advantage of this system over bumps, raised areas and priority-chicanes is that there are no restrictions or added hazards for the police and rescue services who need to get somewhere fast. Going to the scene of an incident can be done at speed, and an ambulance returning with a casualty can take the shortish surface texturing areas with the necessary care.
As an architectural historian, part of my work is as a consultant with a conservation and design group working on aspects of the built environment. I am too often dismayed at the unnecessary mutilation to the visual and operational aspects of our communities.
I do hope that the many amenity and history societies of Ely and the surrounding villages will be alert to the signs of impending calming scheme. Already Ely has a few examples, the Cathedral Green, the Gallery and Silver Street have raised portions of roads that are not particularly useful, although Barton Road has such ridiculous and dangerous bumps there should be a petition to have them removed. The layout of the Barton Square-Black Hill 'roundabout' suggests that the designers have never seen, let alone driven a heavy vehicle in their lives; all that is required there is a priority circle so that drivers are reminded of who should give way to who. The sad thing about all this business is that it is caused by thoughtless or poorly instructed driving.
Ely is such a nice place to live in. It needs TLC from everyone of us, not traffic calming.