Traffic Orders A944 and Migvie Gardens

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See the response submitted by Kingswells Community Council.

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Migvie Gardens / Kingswells Avenue

 Kingswells Community Council welcome the proposed introduction of ‘At any time’ waiting restrictions. The extent of these restrictions could be increased to offer better visibility at the junction when vehicles are parked on the unrestricted area.

Proposal to reduce the speed limit on the A944 and surrounding roads

Kingswells Community Council would like the following points to be considered regarding the proposal to reduce the speed limit on the A944 and surrounding roads

When we discussed the road system around Kingswells a few years ago with ACC Roads Department we were advised that they were considering closing off the central reservation openings. Local residents and businesses who require to access the opposite carriageway will have to do so by travelling along the A944 to the next roundabout. This will be an inconvenience to people who have to perform this manoeuvre, and the reduction of speed from 50 to 40mph will exacerbate the situation.

The A944 was reported to be one road that would carry more traffic after the introduction of the Western Peripheral Route. It is also key to the distribution of the increased traffic from various developments in the area. The traffic assessment for these developments was carried out on the basis of the speed on the A944 being 50mph. Reducing the speed to 40mph makes the road network less efficient.

The A944 is not perceived to be different from other roads in terms of road safety and we question the need for the reduction in speed limit approaching roundabouts and traffic controlled junctions when this is not required as a National Standard.

We have requested information on road safety and recent accidents from ACC Roads Department, without success. We suspect that although there have been fatalities on the A944 that speed was not a primary reason for these.

We feel that the proposed changes have been made in haste and that road improvements in the area would benefit from a more in depth assessment. The study should consider road safety and the various methods by which it can be improved without impacting on the effectiveness of the road network. No more changes should be implemented until a full review has taken place.

We consider the existing speed limit of 50 mph to be more appropriate than the proposed 40mph.

Comparison with other roads in Aberdeen

The A944 is a dual carriageway which has had its speed limit reduced over recent years to 50 mph. It is now proposed to reduce the limit to 40mph. The A944 is the western gateway to the City Centre. The road starts at the City boundary with Westhill and is in open countryside for a distance of 3 miles before reaching the first main settlement of Kingswells. The road continues past Kingswells as a dual carriageway to the Greenhedges roundabout where the road continues as single carriageway to Sheddocksley and Hazelhead. The proposal is to make the speed limit 40mph on this 5 mile route

The Parkway is a single carriageway main arterial route through Aberdeen with a speed limit of 50mph. It has several roundabouts and signalised pedestrian crossings.

Access from the south is by the A90 dual carriageway with speed at national speed limit. The speed limit is reduced to 40mph a short distance from the Bridge of Dee. Safety on this road was increased by the closure of central reservation openings.

Access from A96, the Inverness road, is by dual carriageway at national speed limit. The speed approaching the airport roundabout is 70mph. Speed is reduced to 40mph prior to the next roundabout where the road approaches Bucksburn.

We conclude from this comparison that a 50mph speed limit on the A944 offers a greater level of safety than other access roads to the city and it is not necessary to reduce speed to 40mph to accommodate normal road features like roundabouts and traffic lights. Where reduction in speed is required it should be introduced local to the area of concern.

The Consequence of Recent Change

The introduction of the traffic lights at Westhill has improved access onto the A944 from side roads by breaking the flow of traffic. It is now easier to join the A944 at the end of a wave of traffic. This change is welcomed.

Recent reductions in the speed limit on the A944 have caused driver frustration and may lead to increased accidents on the road. The following behaviours are being demonstrated, and we consider the root cause is the recent reduction in speed:

  • Increased bunching of traffic and driving in convoys is more dangerous than driving in naturally flowing traffic. This will be more dangerous in poor weather conditions when stopping distances are increased.
  • Under-taking – this is a dangerous manoeuvre resulting from driver frustration
  • Pulling out into traffic – a 40 mph limit gives a driver a false impression that he has more time to complete manoeuvres. Driving at 50 mph would reduce the need to pull out, and is fast enough to ensure that these manoeuvres are performed with more care and attention.
  • The approach to the City from Banchory is by a single carriageway road at 50mph. There are few overtaking opportunities on the 12 mile road and driver frustration can be high. At the new signalised junction at Westhill the road joins the A944 dual carriageway. Prior to the reduction in speed limit this road allowed overtaking and consequently reduced driver frustration. This benefit has now been lost with the introduction of the 40mph limit, and the speed reduction adds to driver frustration and increases the propensity of accidents.
  • Cars travelling at 40mph are not economical in terms of fuel consumption and have a greater impact on the environment than a car travelling at 50mph.

Justification for the reduction in speed limit

We understand that some of the reasons put forward for the need to reduce the speed include the introduction of new developments and driver confusion. These points are discussed below.

Impact on New Development

The new developments along the A944 corridor include:

  • Countesswells will be accessed via a signalised junction at Greenhedges and, subject to planning application, from the Kingswells roundabout. The roundabout is currently signal controlled at peak times, and has high level traffic lights if these are required out with peak times. The roundabout and the new junction are a significant distance from the housing development and does not pose any safety issues to the residents. Conversely, with 3,000 new homes the residents will require a better road network which will be achieved more easily with a 50mph speed limit rather than the 40mph proposed.
  • The Maidencraig development is adjacent to the Lang Stracht, and we agree that the speed from the Greenhedges roundabout should be reduced to 40mph, but we think the timing of this change should be much later when house building has commenced and drivers can clearly identify the reason for the change. Making arbitrary changes to the road network with no clear reason for the change can cause driver frustration and increases the propensity for accidents.
  • Changes to the junction at the crematorium include the proposal for a reduction in speed limit. We agree that a signalised junction maybe required when there are cremations, but these controls should be part time with sensor type controls to activate the lights. Out-with crematorium business hours the lights should be turned off. The Parkway has several signalised pedestrian crossings on a road with a 50mph speed limit, and the need for a 40mph limit at the crematorium is questioned.
  • New Access to Prime 4 on the C89C: There is a proposal to reduce the speed limit to 40mph approaching the new signalised junction on the This junction will have significant impact on the flow of traffic at peak times. Limiting the speed will cause more traffic problems which will have to be addressed if the proposals are approved. As demonstrated elsewhere in this document there are traffic controlled pedestrian crossings in Aberdeen on roads with 50mph speed limits. These are more hazardous than a signalised junction. Consequently, the need for the speed reduction is questioned. The true cost of introducing the reduction in speed limits is much more that that identified in the consultation documentation, and details of how congestion will be mitigated should be included in this proposal.
  • Prime 4 has a signal controlled access off the A944. The gantry style traffic signals provide an additional level of safety. The access is close to the Kingswells roundabout and is served by slip roads and dedicated turning lanes. These measures are sufficient and the need for a 40 mph speed limit is questioned.

 

Driver Confusion

The confusion drivers are experiencing due to different speed limits in the area has been created by the introduction of the 40mph limits. Prior to that the norm was 50mph and there was no confusion. It is clear that in other areas within the city approaching roundabouts and pedestrian crossings at 50mph is acceptable, and the ‘double standard’ is causing confusion and frustration in drivers.

The signage is also confusing. Speed limit signs come in two sizes. The use of larger signs would reduce driver confusion.

The Way Forward

The road system in the area is congested at peak times, and there is little that can be done to resolve these issues at this time. Developments in the area will introduce new signal controlled junctions and additional roundabouts which naturally control the speed of traffic. The last thing road users need is for the system to be micro managed. The road system was not dangerous when the speed limits were 50mph, but the proposed reductions will increase driver frustration and the probability for an increase in the number of accidents.

Aberdeen City Council should make the roads safer by closing the gaps in the central reservation, if this is still the intention of the Roads Department. Road safety can also be increased by the introduction of safety barriers on the central reservation. A reduction in speed limit at this time will increase journey times and will have an impact on businesses and personal lives of road users. This is a measure that can be used in the future when other measures become ineffective. It is inappropriate at this time.

Kingswells Community Council request that the current proposals are turned down and approval is given instead to assess the road network in this area. The assessment should propose a full set of road improvement measures that will be introduced in a phased manner. The area may well have significant road issues, but changes that are considered seriously in a mini master plan can be introduced, if required, with minimal frustration to drivers. The current proposals do not achieve this objective.

The proposals are not small scale road improvements. They will have significant impact, and should be considered in a more detailed study. Please refuse approval and approve the study.

 

Attachments

  1. CHI-15-167 Small Scale (New Works) (1.7 MiB)
    Traffic Order for A944 and Migvie Gardens

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