Sidmouth centre favours traffic claims resident

Resident’s survey calls for pedestrian safety in Sidmouth town centre

POOR transport infrastructure and absence of traffic management prevent Sidmouth from being a select resort.

So claims Sidmouth resident Graham Cooper of Peak Hill Road, who in a brief study, prompted by Herald articles about traffic and parking issues, says streets are dominated by traffic and are “hazardous and unnecessary vested interest in the town is resistant to change.”

Mr Cooper has sent copies of his report to Sidmouth Town Council’s chairman and the chairman of district planning.

He claims: “The quality of its (Sidmouth’s) streets and public spaces is being constantly undermined by the continuous pounding of ever-increasing volumes of traffic.

“The choices are clear, you can either do nothing or you can attempt to rescue the situation.”

He says narrow pavements and lack of safe crossings demonstrate pedestrians have been considered a “low priority” by the council and claims a mix of crowded pavements, stationary and moving vehicles; particularly Fore Street, is a lethal combination.

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His study highlights eight areas with particularly narrow paths.

Drivers tailgate one another at speeds of up to 30mph with wing mirrors brushing past bystanders, he says.

“A toxic mix of exhaust fumes and noise produces a thoroughly unpleasant atmosphere inconsistent with the exclusive resort Sidmouth aspires to be. …the traffic ensures a low quality shopping experience and is bad for business.

“Local representatives should consider how to reduce the risk to visitors by improving public safety and access.

“Their first priority must be the wellbeing of the guests and this will require an emphasis on the improvement to footpaths and the creation of safe public spaces.”

He recommends councillors should focus on improved pedestrian access, reduce traffic speeds to 10mph and ensure town centre paths meet minimum safe requirements and are more than two metres wide.

Town council chairman, Councillor Stuart Hughes, said: “There is no such thing as a 10mph speed limit. We looked at making a 20mph zone some time ago but the town council didn’t support it.”

He said the Traffic Management Plan was looking at whether to pedestrianise part of the town centre, from the Methodist Church to seafront, which would negate the need for wider paths, and to reversing traffic flow, which, he believes would cut traffic through the town.

“All the signing to car parks is down All Saints Avenue, but locals know it is quicker to get to them through the town,” he said.

“If you drove up through the town you wouldn’t get the bottleneck.”

He estimates it will take two to three years to consider a suitable scheme to ease the traffic congestion in the town centre, because of cuts to the county budget.

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