An accident this week at the top of Station Approach, which was a repeat of one several years ago, has again highlighted the dangers for pedestrians at this junction – and in this part of Rye generally.
A man was knocked over by a car turning right into Cinque Ports Street from Station Approach at around 11:15 am this Monday, January 25. The South East Ambulance Service and a police car from Battle were quickly on the scene, first aid was rendered, and the traffic diverted. Fortunately the man, John Tolhurst who lives in Rye, was only bruised, not injured, and after a rest in the ambulance was allowed home.
He said later: ” I would like to say thank you to the police, paramedic and public, who came to my aid after the car hit me. I am feeling a bit sore, but hopefully there is no lasting damage. Thank you also to Bargain Box for the get well card, it certainly cheered me up”.
It was the driver of the blue Renault Clio, a woman from Hastings, who was the most shocked by the experience. She was clearly unaware of the pedestrian crossing at the corner, and possibly dazzled by bright sunlight shining down Market Road straight into her eyes.
However the road is clearly marked as an uncontrolled crossing, as the photograph above shows, though the four belisha beacons at the two pedestrian crossings to and from the traffic island in the middle of the junction are not particularly visible against the background of the shops behind.
Visibility at the junction is also not good because of buses and vans parked on the right alongside the Royal Mail sorting office, and because of buses (particularly double deckers) stopping on the left to drop off and pick up passengers.
It is however the principal route into the town centre for pedestrians arriving by train or bus via Market Road, and made worse by the absence of a pedestrian crossing on the left hand side of Station Approach by the Cinque Port Arms.
A previous casualty on the pedestrian crossing, on the right hand side of Station Approach, was Robin Warner. A former Rye traffic warden, who in 13 years’ service was responsible for minimising obstructions and keeping the traffic flowing through the town, he is scathing about the present state of undisciplined free-for-all parking in Rye, calling it “quite ludicrous”.
Shortly after he retired in 2012, he was knocked down on that crossing and his hip broken, an injury from which he still suffers today.
He blamed the poor visibility on “that blasted great pillar which blocks the view” – hidden in the photograph by the parked bus on the right. The brick pier, and its companion across the street (on the left in the photo above), once used to support the gates to the railway station and yard. It is now deemed part of the station listed building and as such is protected from demolition.
Various traffic calming ideas have been discussed over the years with the East Sussex County Council highways authority in an endeavour to discourage speeding vehicles, given the number of pedestrians going into, or coming back from, the town centre via Market Road, which can be seen at the back of the photograph, beyond and to the left of the traffic island with vehicles parked in the busy one way exit from the town centre.
The road layout at the top of Station Approach with the sharp right hand turn into the one way part of Cinque Ports Street; a left hand turn into the two way section of Cinque Ports Street; and traffic coming down Market Road turning either left or right, along with two pedestrian crossings to the central traffic island, is sufficiently complicated perhaps to put experienced motorists on their guard.
However the small detailed road signs on the traffic island itself, warning of the narrow and height limited Landgate arch into the town centre to the left, and sending Dover/Folkestone traffic round to the right to the South Undercliff road to avoid the town centre, causes confusion with some drivers unsure of which lane to be in; and, with the yellow beacons warning of pedestrians crossings not particularly visible, this all adds up to a dangerous situation.
This is then made worse by the absence of a pedestrian crossing to the left of the traffic island, and the absence of a clear and obvious route for pedestrians from the station, except by going in the opposite direction to the pedestrian crossing in front of Jempsons supermarket.
These issues have been considered in detail as part of the Neighbourhood Plan for Rye setting out ideas for the town’s future, on which a referendum should be held later this year. But any solution may be controversial because of the volume of motor traffic through the town on the A259 road at this point (as traffic coming south from the Udimore Road has no alternative route) is combined with the volume of pedestrian traffic generated by the railway station, bus stops, Post Office and supermarket.
Details of the draft Neighbourhood Plan were exhibited at St Mary’s Centre last weekend seeking further comments before it is finalised and one consideration may be for one or more controlled crossings, like the one in Fishmarket Road, to protect pedestrians and slow the traffic.
Photo: Kenneth Bird