Monday, 15 August 2016

A Walk In Walton

In this week's blog, I look at a little high street which has made extensive use of continuous footways and it serves to remind us that new ideas are rarely new.

Walton-on-the-Naze is in the far north-east corner of Essex and as is characterised by this part of the country, the town (with nearby Frinton-on-Sea) is almost on a peninsula because of the network of watercourses and marshes around it. It's very much at the end of the line as far as rail and road go and so it's perhaps not as popular (in tourist destination terms) as Clacton-on-Sea and Southend-on-Sea. But, it's a pretty little town, with a great beach for kids and being compact, it is eminently walkable.

Anyway, the point of this blog post is to talk about the High Street in Walton. I have visited the town with my family on and off for some years (not for a few years though), but it was only this last weekend did I notice that the footways along the High Street are all continuous. I put it down to having sharpened my eye in the last few years, but it wasn't until we had walked along most of the street that I noticed!

Continuous footways are those which simply continue across side roads (as with private accesses) so that people driving are having to cross them to get to and from the side roads. In essence, pedestrians retain full priority. I explored the concept some time back here and here. The layout in essence turns usual custom and practice on it's head. The image below shows different junction  treatments. The first drawing shows a layout we see all over the UK; the second is better as there is now tactile paving to assist visually impaired people to cross the side road; third is a large flat road hump (a speed table) to provide a level crossing of the side road which is better for those with reduced mobility and fourth is a continuous footway.

The Walton layout has been in place for several years (it must be over ten years) and from a walking point of view, it provides a high level of service. High Street is one-way for traffic and it is bypassed neatly by the two-way Old Pier Street (forming part of the B1034) and so in theory, most people don't need to drive into the street unless for access. 

The streets accessible from High Street don't go anywhere (mainly dwellings), although Mill Lane serves a car park which probably generates more traffic than should be in the High Street. There is also quite of bit of on-street parking provision which is not necessary as there is parking very close. There is some loading space which does restrict footway width when being used. Let's look at some photos;

The two photos above are the junction of High Street with Alfred Terrace; the first is a view along High Street and the second is in Alfred Terrace looking back at High Street. The paving across the junction is a pragmatic grey block paving which can better deal with vehicle use compared to the 400mm square modular concrete paving used away from the junction. 

The block paving starts well before the junction and continues into the side road to give visual priority. The give way line in the side road is set well back to further reinforce the fact that emerging drivers are entering someone else's space. The yellow lines also assist with visual priority, but the area is in a Restricted Parking Zone which states that parking should be in marked bays only and so is superfluous. It wasn't there the last time I visited, so I assume it was put in to appease those claiming to be caught out by lack of yellow paint which is a shame.

The four photos above are all of the junction High Street with Mill Lane. Interestingly, there is "blister" tactile paving on each side of each junction along the High Street and I wonder if it shows caution on the original designer's part or is the result of local consultation with visually impaired people who may have had concerns about walking in an area where drivers previously treated it as their own. If anyone has views on this I'd be grateful for feedback. The tactile paving is in an area which vehicles could over-run and so maintenance could be an issue.

I have had a look at the casualty history for the site as it turns out that Essex County Council has the information online. Between April 2011 and March this year (the data available), there was one collision (May 2012) at the junction of High Street with Alfred Terrace which involved a pedestrian being slightly injured by a vehicle (yes, driven by someone, but that is how it's reported). We are not given any more details, but if I were pushed, I would say perhaps someone leaving the side road was looking for vehicles coming from their right rather than people walking from their left - it's pure guesswork though. My feeling is that this is a single (recorded) injury in 5 years where there are lots of people walking and so safety (from a people getting hurt point of view) it's unlikely to be a significant issue.

High Street is a nice place to be on the whole, but the on-street parking and loading reduces footway width (and some are fairly narrow), but given the age of the scheme, it would have been quite forward-thinking when it was proposed (if you know any background, do let me know). I think it needs to be changed further and the street made a pedestrian (and cyclist) zone during the day when there are most people walking around. Those needing to access could be provided with permit exemption and loading could take place out of hours.

The Mill Lane car park is an issue and to remove the need to use High Street, it would be necessary to look at the access road between Mill Lane and Kirby Road as an alternative way to access the car park (it is currently narrow and one-way "out" of the centre). Of course, it could be redeveloped as housing!

All the above stated, it is a good example of how most traffic can be excluded from a street and pedestrians given better priority in order to to provide a distinctive place which gives a reason to linger, far better than many comparable seaside high streets in my opinion.


  1. When someone is reported as injured in the UK traffic records, what exactly does that mean? Needing your mum to give you a good hug and some pain meds for a day or two and needing to lie down for a day or two is what I needed last year when I was going for my last round of vaccinations (ironic, I tried to get better health and ended up with worse health) some doofus didn't clear out the hidden gravel that made my front tyre slip out from under me and I went over the handlebars. It probably wouldn't happen today given that I ride omafietsen now, well, just one, but you know what I mean. Does that count as an injury? I asked my mom to go and come pick me up in her mini van because I had a hard time walking even 10 metres after the milliseconds of adrenaline wore off to get myself out of danger from being hit by a car.

    Or would it require something like a broken bone or what?

    I bring up this point because I know that people who advocate for Vision 0 and Sustainable Safety also call for no serious injuries either, of course it's not good if you get a broken bone either. So when do we draw the line between first aid and no medical intervention and a serious injury?

    1. The data which is being looked at comes from the collisions reported to the Police only. The Police 'accident' reports categorise severity as either Fatal, Serious or Slight.

      Generally it looks like an injury is serious if you need to go to A&E and slight if you can be treated with first aid on the scene.

      Some of the examples of injuries which would be classed as serious are:
      - Broken neck or back
      - Severe head injury, unconscious
      - Loss of arm or leg (or part)
      - Fracture
      - Deep cuts/lacerations
      - Concussion
      - Detention in hospital as an in-patient, either immediately or later
      - Injuries to casualties who die 30 or more days after the accident from injuries sustained in that accident.

      The Police accident reports are put in to a database called STAT19 - more infor here if you're interested:

  2. It's a good point. In the UK, we have "slight", "serious" and "fatal" collisions which are defined as;

    Slight injury: An injury of a minor character such as a sprain (including neck whiplash injury), bruise or cut which are not judged to be severe, or slight shock requiring roadside attention. This definition includes injuries not requiring medical treatment.

    Serious injury: An injury for which a person is detained in hospital as an “in-patient”, or any of the following injuries whether or not they are detained in hospital: fractures, concussion, internal injuries, crushings, burns (excluding friction burns), severe cuts, severe general shock requiring medical treatment and injuries causing death 30 or more days after the accident. An injured casualty is recorded as seriously or slightly injured by the police on the basis of information available within a short time of the accident. This generally will not reflect the results of a medical examination, but may be influenced according to whether the casualty is hospitalised or not. Hospitalisation procedures will vary regionally.

    From this;

    1. I still see it as absurd that the UK doesn't adopt Sustainable Safety. Not even the parts that would actually make it much easier to drive, like monofunctional roads. Crashes involving motor vehicles only of course are still a huge problem in the UK and so I'd imagine that if the UK government was genuinely concerned, wouldn't Sustainable Safety be on the top of the list? There are so many easy ways to make a huge difference, from changing from solid lampposts to collapsible, going from a .08% BAC to .05% BAC, at least on the level of when you'd get a suspension and a very big fine like Canadian provinces limit you to, (.05 makes you a provincial offender, .08 makes you a criminal), angling the kerbs next to roads is simple but incredibly effective. Ordering that new suburbs be built to Sustainable Safety standards would be so easy but is not done, single carriageways being 50 mph roads rather than 60 mph roads in the countryside along with a nice 6 metre wide clear zone on either side and a metre of a buffer in the middle with a slight curb like the former provincial road in Kampen NL, so many ways to save so many lives and prevent so many serious injuries, even preventing slight injuries and crashes in general, hugely effective, no reason for why the uK shouldn't swallow it's medicine and take it.

    2. Actually, the definition of a fatal is quite important, particularly when comparing data from different countries.

      In the UK a fatal collision is one in which someone dies within 30 days of the collision occurring, I believe the same is now true for most of Europe, but there are/were some places which define a crash as being fatal only if someone is dead at the scene, and others who considered a crash to be fatal if death occurred within 1 year of the collision.

      Andy R

  3. I've been looking at the Stats19 data and there are several sites mapping it (soon to be joined by me). The Essex site you link to is a re-badged version of which is UK wide.

    A lot more data is available publicly as databases but most mapping sites don't give you the full details for commercial reasons - either they want you to pay for reports or they want to sell their consultancy services.

    I hope to get some maps up soon giving out more of the data. I will include the 'Accident Index' number, which makes it easier to dig out the full details if people want more details.

    If you've got any ideas for interesting maps, let me know - once I've got the data in to a usable form making more maps is quite easy :-)

  4. "Continuous footways are those which simply continue across side roads (as with private accesses) so that people driving are having to cross them to get to and from the side roads. In essence, pedestrians retain full priority." - can I ask, then, does that mean that on a shared-use path in that situation, both pedestrians and cyclists would 'retain full priority'. Making it, in theory at least, the responsibility of the person turning into or out of their driveway to check and/or wait until it's clear? I've never been clear about that, myself.

    1. This piece on the CEoGB website also talks about continuous footways/cycleways and should answer the question.

      Andy R.

  5. Why do roads and workplaces have such utterly different approaches to incidents? Might it help if roads used the same principles as for example aircraft and workplaces?

  6. Looking at the top image... Why is there not an interim option that has the stop line pulled back from the pedestrian crossing/desire line? The table crossings in Walton show the recessed stop line so it doesn't appear to be a legal thing.

    1. I suppose you could, but it is less legible as there is still "road" beyond

  7. Francis Vernon3 March 2018 at 18:08

    I've just used your continuous footway photos from Walton on the Naze and Dutch examples in a consultation response for Three Bridges Station developments - trust that's OK?