2015 Survey - Background
The Redbourn section of the Nickey Line (NL) is part of National Cycle Route 57. It is used by local residents to go to & from work and school in Harpenden and Hemel Hempstead and recreationally by walkers, runners and cyclists. It leads to Maylands Industrial estate, the biggest in the Eastern region, and a major employment site. The NL provides a traffic free link from Harpenden and via the Upper Lea Valley Way from Luton to Maylands.
The Nickey Line crosses major roads twice at Redbourn (one is a double crossing):
- Redbourn / Hemel Hempstead - B487 (by the junction with Hemel Hempstead Road), and
- Redbourn / Harpenden - A5183 Redbourn By-Pass and B487 Redbourn Lane (both by the roundabout).
The Roundabout has twin lane entry on two arms (B487 & A5183) which are particularly dangerous for Non-Motorised Users (NMUs). There are a further four public Right of Way footpaths crossing the by-pass between the two NL crossing points: Redbourn 24, 31, 34 & 38. All crossings are uncontrolled and with fast traffic.
Following extensive feedback from users, Friends of the Nickey Line ran a survey of users’ opinions on the safety of the Nickey Line crossings. Whilst concerns were expressed on both crossings, the Roundabout double crossing quickly appeared to generate the most anxiety and so was taken as the initial main survey priority, with a usage count, observations and informal interviews of users being added to the formal opinion survey.
The Redbourn roundabout crossings see heavy weekly crossing traffic. Over the late June/early July period, Friends of the Nickey Line measured over 1600 crossings per week with over 1 crossing per minute at peak times. Cyclists form 60% of users; runners and walkers about 20% each.
Users are very concerned with crossing safety on both Redbourn crossings:
- 84% of users expressing an opinion of the roundabout crossings felt they were unsafe
- 77% of the users expressing an opinion of the Hemel Hempstead B487 crossing felt it was unsafe
The main issues include:
- Traffic speed at both sets of crossings especially at busy periods
- Poor sightlines made worse by totally inadequate foliage control (mainly the Roundabout crossings)
- Unpredictability of traffic on roundabout made worse by crossings being too close to roundabout
- Family groups in particular can really struggle to cross safely. “This is a death trap - nearly been run over twice with a buggy - impossible to cross. The Harpenden crossing really puts us off using the Nickey Line when with children. Literally nearly been killed there”
The by-pass and unsafe crossings clearly creates a large ‘severance’ for Non-Motorised Users from accessing the traffic free route between Hemel Hempstead & Harpenden and the countryside to the south:
- One in three respondents said they would use the Roundabout Crossings more if they were safer
- Over one in six respondents said they would use the Hemel Hempstead Crossing more if it were safer
- User feedback reported potential NL users who refused to use it because of the perceived crossing risks
Call for action
Friends of the Nickey Line call for actions to improve the safety of both crossings:
- Highways to regularly manage verge vegetation to improve sightlines (See Appendix photographs)
- Speed limits be implemented on all approaching roads and the roundabout
- Both sets of crossings be upgraded to formal Zebra / Toucan crossings
- The Roundabout crossings to be repositioned to be further away from the roundabout to allow drivers to have more time to see them and space to stop.
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