Beech Parish Council takes action to curb 'rat run' motorists

By Jon Walker   |   Senior reporter   |
Friday 23rd October 2020 1:00 pm
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IN A bid to curb speeding motorists ‘rat running’ through Beech and putting pedestrians, cyclists and horse riders in danger, specially designed signs aimed at educating drivers have gone up in the village.

They are part of an ongoing campaign backed by Beech Parish Council to encourage more considerate driving in the village, where the main through road has no pavements meaning adults and children are likely to be walking in the road.

Beech Road Safety Group chairman Sir Charles Cockburn said: “The road through the village is a typical narrow, winding country lane, and Medstead Road and Kings Hill are too narrow for two vehicles, let alone two vehicles and a pedestrian, cyclist or equestrian.

“In places, 20 mph would be the only safe speed. Yet these vulnerable road users have no option but to travel along the road because there is no footpath for all but a short section of the village near the A339 junction.

“The volume and speed of through traffic has increased to the point where it has become uncomfortable and often dangerous for pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

“The unique and unusual new road signs have been designed especially for the village.

“We hope they will attract drivers’ attention and contribute to a safer and less stressful environment for all road users.

“What we hope to achieve is a long-term change of behaviour from motorists who come through the village too fast, even when they are travelling at the 30 mph speed limit.

“If motorists are a large part of the problem, they could also play a crucial role in the solution.

“We would encourage drivers to look for the signs and point them out to their kids, explaining how vulnerable pedestrians are and the potential impact of being hit by a motor vehicle.

“Long term we want to achieve the sense that charging around at speed through country lanes comes to be seen as unacceptable as drink driving.”

Meanwhile, Beech Road Safety Working Group has appealed to local police chief, Alex Reading, to devote greater resources to enforcing speed limits, targeting well-known rat runs such as that in Beech.

Sir Charles said: “We need to see more regular visits from the police mobile speed camera to catch the idiots who blight our lives.

“For Beech residents, the speed of traffic through the village is our single biggest concern.

“During the Covid lockdown, our perception is that because of the decline in traffic, speeds actually increased through the village.

“In March a runner was knocked over and seriously injured by a passing vehicle, whose wing mirror was ripped off in the collision. The driver drove on without stopping.”

One village resident said that even those sticking to the speed limit create a constant sense of fear.

The resident added: “They treat us like dustbins, they come so close.

“Walking young kids down the road to the village green to use the play equipment is fraught with danger as motorists drive straight at you, because a car is coming in the other direction, rather than wait so that they can safely pass the pedestrians.

“Yet we have no option but to walk on the road.”

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