Villagers press for speed limit after a second traffic accident

Lest We Forget

Calls for urgent action to introduce a 20mph speed limit have been made after another pedestrian was involved in an accident with a vehicle in Rusthall last week.

The incident took place on the evening of December 15, and saw a woman in her 20s taken to hospital after being knocked down by a car at the junction of Lower Green and Coach Road.

It came less than three weeks after 78-year-old local man Roy Bowen was killed in a collision with a white van.

Rusthall council chairman Jenny Blackburn said: “That’s two accidents on the high street in just a few days. Are you listening Ann Barnes, Kent Police Commissioner?

“The fatality was the first of its kind here in 25 years. Fortunately the young woman wasn’t badly injured.

“It would be ideal if we had a 20mph speed limit on the high street. We’ve had discussions with the campaign group 20’s Plenty about it, but it’s in the hands of KCC. They are reluctant to reduce the speed limit, even in front of the school.

“We were told years ago by a highways engineer that the zigzag pattern of parking down the high street theoretically forces people to drive more cautiously.

“But people park on double yellows and junctions all the time, causing mayhem. How do you change that behavior?

“This is a 19th-century village in a 21st-century world. It was never designed for the level of car ownership we currently have.”

Opinion is divided as to how to solve the problem, with some favouring the removal of the bus route, others calling for improved road markings, parking enforcement measures, or the installation of extra crossings and speed cameras.

Mrs Blackburn said: “The whole village is very exercised about traffic. Many people feel the buses are a big part of the problem, but if people drove and parked better, that would help, too.

“KCC is reluctant to spend more money, having already spent a lot installing flashing speed limiters. There’s already a crossing on the high street and they’re not willing to install another.”

Adrian Barendt of 20’s Plenty said: “Rusthall is definitely a place that needs to be 20mph in the high street and surrounding areas.

“I’m trying to challenge KCC on their 20mph policy because it’s not meeting department for transport guidelines.

“Instead of setting an appropriate speed limit for every road, KCC are basically saying, ‘we’ve got a certain amount of money to spend, how can we ration 20mph zones?'”

The county council view:
A KCC spokesman said: “We were extremely saddened to hear of the fatal crash in Rusthall and our thoughts are with relatives of the deceased.

“We constantly strive to keep road users as safe as possible on Kent’s roads and are always concerned over any accident, particularly when someone is hurt.

“We do this through two main mechanisms – road safety awareness campaigns and safety engineering measures. As a result of these, the long-term trend for the number of people killed or seriously injured in road crashes in Kent is downward.

“Kent Police traffic officers are investigating this incident and we will take on board
any conclusions they reach in terms of the cause.”

The spokesman said the council has to make ‘tough decisions’ on where to improve road traffic and safety and where to say ‘no’, and that areas most in need of improvement that have ‘the support of the whole community’ take priority.

He added: “Managing the speed of traffic is essential to continue reducing the number of, and severity, of casualties on our roads. Kent Police are responsible for the enforcement of local speed limits.”

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