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TREES MARKED FOR THE AXE ON VICTORIA ROAD

Victoria RoadYet again, trees are marked for the axe on Victoria Road without, it seems, proper consultation. There seems to be several reasons for this planned action which seem conflicting and confusing:

1. to enable the creation of an "elegant walkway" (Bradford Council working with Hilary Taylor Landscape Associates, responsible for the Lottery spend on Roberts Park)

2. because they are diseased and sited too close to buildings and need to be replaced by smaller trees (Craig McHugh, World Heritage Officer for Saltaire)

3. that they obstruct visibility at the junction of Victoria Road and Saltaire Road and add to the risk of collisions (Simon D'Vali, Bradford Council's principal engineer for Shipley).

It's no surprise that some residents of Saltaire are feeling upset, frustrated and alienated with these proposals, which seem to lack proper explanation or consultation. Local residents, including Helen Duffy and Mike Gilbert have objected to the planned axing of the trees and they are supported by Green Party councillors and the Shipley Tory MP.

An exhibition highlighting key features for the new-look Victoria Road is on display in Victoria Hall and on the Telegragh and Argus website it's written that a workshop will take place on Thursday (6th November?) from 7pm to 8pm in Victoria Hall’s Glen Room. The contact for this is Christine Gordon on (01274) 433952, e-mail christine.gordon@brad ford.gov.uk

Local resident, Mike Gilbert objects to the proposed tree felling and emailed Green Councillor, Martin Love with the following comments:

Date: Thu, 30 Oct 2008 23:04:48 +0000
To: martin.love@bradford.gov.uk
From: Mike Gilbert

Dear Mr. Love,

It has come to my notice, as a resident of Saltaire, that Bradford Council has planned to remove four trees at the junction of Victoria Road and Saltaire Road to "reduce the number of traffic accidents at that junction".

I live on the north-facing side of Sir Titus Salt Apartments, Victoria Road, previously known as The Old Hospital, and have a first floor flat with extensive views towards Shipley Glen. All four trees form a very pleasant part of the views from the eight windows facing west and north and this plan is obviously of great interest and distress to me. My flat overlooks this traffic junction and it is quite clear that these trees have no effect on road safety whatsoever.

Drivers of any type of vehicle arriving at this junction from all directions have absolutely no restriction on their line of sight caused by these trees and can clearly view traffic coming from all directions. If stopped at the white line on the north or south sides of Victoria Road waiting to enter the traffic on Saltaire Road, drivers have a completely unrestricted view and the driver's seat is physically ahead of the two trees (not four!) which "might" potentially be blamed for being an obstruction. In other words, the tree trunks are behind drivers waiting at the white line. The accidents at this junction are not caused by trees in any way, but rather by the design of the junction itself and the roundabout at the Old Tramshed, and the lack of safety provisions for traffic flow and pedestrians at the junction.

It is abundantly clear that the person who has come up with the idea of cutting down beautiful trees in a World Heritage Site environment has not made any real effort to study the problems at this junction at all, or perhaps has an ulterior motive in trying to prevent expenditure on the relatively obvious actual solutions needed. Cutting down these trees will not save money, as the accidents will clearly continue and the actual causes of the traffic accidents will eventually still have to be addressed, but residents of Saltaire and the thousands of tourists who flock here will simply have four very empty spaces to look at on what is simply, at present, one of the most beautiful urban streets in Britain, Victoria Road.

The main causes of dangerous traffic situations
at this junction are the following in my view:

  • The build up of traffic jams which continue back to this junction from the roundabout at the Old Tramshed. That roundabout is extremely dangerous and difficult to enter from Saltaire Road going west and Saltaire Road can be very congested eastwards or at a standstill for long periods halfway back to Shipley.
  • Traffic moving east down Saltaire Road from the Old Tramshed roundabout has no jams to worry about and speeds build up very rapidly going down the hill. I have seen many vehicles speeding down that hill past the junction in question.
  • There is therefore fast traffic flow east towards Shipley and slow traffic flow west towards Bingley - a recipe for disaster.
  • Lack of any traffic control measures such as traffic lights or even a yellow hatched line "no stopping" box at the Victoria Rd/Saltaire Rd junction means that drivers trying to enter the Saltaire Road traffic are dependant entirely on the good will of drivers already in the Saltaire Road traffic flow. This can be very dangerous, as it causes a lot of frustration when it is impossible to enter the flow, as vehicles are bumper to bumper or drivers will not hold back to allow others to come into the flow or, even more dangerously, cross it north to south or south to north. Frustrated drivers act rashly and cause accidents.
  • The dangerous situation at this junction is further compounded by the dangerous placement of the pelican crossing ten yards to the west of the junction. Although this pedestrian crossing does prevent fast drivers speeding past the junction in an easterly direction for short periods, it also prevents drivers entering the flow west up the hill. So only one vehicle can enter the Saltaire Road westerly flow when the lights at the crossing are on red and then only if their passage into that flow is not blocked by bumper to bumper traffic jams. If a second vehicle attempts to follow, the easterly traffic down Saltaire Road is blocked until that vehicle is able to proceed.
  • As there is only one pelican crossing across Saltaire Road, it is tempting for pedestrians on the east sides of Victoria Rd, north and south, to take risks running the gauntlet of the fast easterly traffic flow when traffic west is at a standstill on Saltaire Road.
    Crossing on the eastern side of the junction is very dangerous for pedestrians. I have seen many people attempt it from my vantage point.

None of the above causes of accidents has anything whatsoever to do with trees.

  • An interim measure that would give north-south drivers on Victoria Road a safer way of entering, or more especially, crossing the Saltaire road traffic flows is the yellow hatched line "No entry unless the road ahead is clear" box. This should be backed up by cameras on the junction and warning signs prior to the junction from all directions.
  • Speed cameras should be installed between the Old Tramshed roundabout and the junction in question to slow easterly traffic down. Warning signs on entering Saltaire Road in an easterly direction from that roundabout would be effective.
  • A combination of cameras at the junction and from the roundabout would be very effective, I think.
  • The major problem of traffic jams building up at the Old Tramshed roundabout can be solved by installing traffic lights on Bingley Road into the Old Tramshed roundabout to restrict flow east west along Bingley Road. this would give drivers on Saltaire Road travelling into the roundabout in a westerly direction safer opportunities to enter that roundabout, which is one of the most dangerous I have encountered in Britain. Stopping the build up of these traffic jams would have a dramatic effect on reducing dangerous attempts to cross the junction by pedestrians on the east sides of Victoria Road and would provide greater opportunity for drivers to enter the westerly flow on Saltaire Road from Victoria Road.

A combination of the above temporary expedients towards improvements in road safety at this junction plus the installation of properly phased traffic lights with zebra/pelican crossings on all sides of the junction is the only real solution. Crossing opportunities for pedestrians are absolutely essential on all sides of the junction.
Traffic control is the key.

P.S. You could make the pelican crossings at most of the crossings in Bradford a lot safer by giving the pedestrian a visible and audible sign that traffic has stopped. There are no "Stop - Go" "traffic" lights for the pedestrian at the pelican crossing at this junction. All lights are directed at only drivers. This is absurd, as is the concept of cutting down ancient and beautiful trees for no reason at all.

"Don't tell Titus!" is the name of a local brasserie. He would turn in his grave if he heard of this proposal.

The person who thought up this idiotic and Philistine scheme should resign or be forced out of office. Residents of Saltaire would like to have logic, sense and safety from their local Council not bureaucratic lunacy. If you want to save lives and injury, cut down insurance payments for car damage and maintain the beautiful environment of Saltaire, then chop this person down, not the wonderful trees.

Yours sincerely

Mike Gilbert

________________________

Mike Gilbert can be contacted via this email link.

   

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