Taking on the town’s traffic


The issues of congestion, pollution and parking brought about by increased traffic in Rye is a long running and growing problem for which this ancient and medieval Cinque Port is ill equipped. In response, a group of residents has formed the Action for Safer Traffic in Rye (ASTIR) and are seeking the views of residents and those working in Rye regarding traffic issues.

ASTIR will be gathering evidence to help tackle the traffic problems experienced by people living, working and visiting Rye. This includes speeding, illegal parking, increased noise, pollution levels, as well as the effects of increased traffic volumes passing through town – both local as well as the heavy goods vehicles thundering through on their onward journey.

The group will be investigating where new pedestrian crossings and other road safety measures should be located to make walking safer and will be lobbying for Rye to become a 20mph zone.

One of the most pressing areas for investigation is that of air quality. A number of residents have expressed their concerns about the increased pollution levels. This is partly down to more and congested traffic but also because of the popularity of diesel engines, which are known to be the worst polluters.

Since the opening of the Channel Tunnel, a number of long standing residents have witnessed a substantial increase in HGV traffic through Rye. The sheer size of the trucks means houses shake as they speed by with vibrations being felt in adjacent roads, including in the citadel, but more concerning is that a number of roads that they use are not wide enough for them to pass each other without mounting the pavement. The group has been gathering evidence of “near misses” and where lorries have come dangerously close to pedestrians. In one instance a resident was struck by a wing mirror and had her rib broken as the passing lorry came close to the pavement beside her.

ASTIR members have already met with Amber Rudd MP, Rother District Councillors and Rye Town Councillors about their concerns. Communication has also taken place with Highways England and it has been agreed to resurface Fishmarket Road and South Undercliff with noise reducing tarmac in June 2018. The group are now aiming to do an analysis of all the “hot spots” in Rye, such as Station Approach, that need to be tackled and will be liaising with the relevant authorities on behalf of all residents of Rye.

If you have first hand knowledge of any traffic/safety problems in Rye and are interested in joining ASTIR to support their aims please contact Vickie Nocera, Chair of ASTIR (01797-224228) or vnocera@btinternet.com).



Photo: Vickie Nocera

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  1. Good to see residents have formed a group called ASTIR,to tackle the growing problem of pollution, and traffic in our town, just a couple of suggestions to them, we need all our pedestrian crossing to be pelican,like the one by Lucknow carpark,and the narrowest part of south undercliffe from Shipyard lane, to St Margaret’s terrace, should be double yellow lines, something we were promised years ago, but as usual never materalised.

  2. Well done to those involved in ASTIR. It needs a vocal lobby group to keep our elected representatives working on solutions.

  3. What terrific news about ASTIR.
    I live on the Winchelsea Rd and have been in communication with Highways England about the speed of cars on this Rd and the virtual non existence of 30mph signs.

    I would be happy to join your group.

  4. While not unhappy to see additional pressure applied to try and solve the traffic issues of Rye I should remind readers that Rye Town Council has had a Highways Forum for several years to consider exactly those problems. The Forum has representatives from the Council, Rye Conservation Society, Rye Community Transport, Sussex Police and East Sussex County Council’s Highways department.

    Many of the troublespots listed above have already been examined by the Forum in detail. What folk do not realise is that there are significant limitations on what can be achieved. For example, the A259 is a trunk road and is administered by Highways England, and it is not possible to place a 20 mph limit on a trunk road. 30 mph signs are not permitted in built-up trunk roads that have street lighting. Reducing traffic speed to 20 mph has been shown in studies elsewhere to reduce average speeds by only 0.7 mph and the cost of implementing a 20 mph zone could be as much as £1m. Crossing changes require evidence of risk; there have been no major accidents that are sufficiently serious to warrant changes. Street layout changes require extensive and expensive consultation; thus, a proposal from the Conservation Society to reduce parking by the High Street cashpoints at the bottom of West Street failed because the cost of a consultation (quoted at £85,000) was prohibitive. There has been much hot air over the dangers of Deadman’s Lane but serious examination revealed that vehicle speeds were low, and again there had been no accidents. The problem of speeding on New Road might be mitigated if the 30 mph signs at the start of the built-up area were moved further onto the marsh, with the speed indicator likewise brought outwards. Pat Hughes from Rye Community Transport has done some valuable work on speed issues and it would be a pity if time was wasted repeating it.

    It is a sad fact that, however hard we try, large chunks of the traffic problems are outside local control or are unaffordable. Changes as suggested require evidence of significant risk that may be mitigated. Maybe we will have to wait for HGVs to be electrified, but then you may not hear them coming…

    However – I would also like to remind readers that if you are concerned about a highways problem (potholes, loose pavement, damaged kerbs, faded white and yellow lines) then you can notify ESCC via a dedicated reporting website, https://www.eastsussex.gov.uk/contact-us/report-a-problem/report-a-problem-on-a-road-path-or-verge/

  5. I find it hard to believe that Andrew Bamji does not think that our crossings need updating, to pelican crossing, at least 3 people including myself knocked down on the crossing at the top of station approach,and lots of several missed, Two crossing adjacent to kettle of fish roundabout, where there has been many near miss instances,So have we got to wait for a fatality before we try to make motorists more aware of these crossings, which have been badly positioned in the first place,the people of Rye deserve better, Rye harbour road cycle path, just goes to show what can be achieved after tragedy,don’t let us wait for more on these crossings, with negative comments.

  6. Some thoughts with regard to the comments from Andrew Bamji;

    1 – Surely that this new group now exists demonstrates that the Highways Forum does not adequately represent all Rye residents and has not been effective (or seen to be doing enough) in addressing the traffic issues that affect Rye residents?

    2 – What about speed cameras? These could act as a deterrent and you’d make a small fortune if they were positioned along South Undercliff, New Road and Winchelsea Road.

    3 – The quality of Highways England / A-one+ surface repairs are lamentable.

    4 – An electrified HGV is still an HGV and will still make houses shake if the quality of the road surface is poor.

  7. I haven’t said there is not a need to upgrade our crossings – quite the opposite, I agree with John Tolhurst. I am merely pointing out that, whatever our views, East Sussex County Council have run detailed assessments following set criteria, and our plans and wishes do not meet those criteria. It is a complex business; to see how complex, take a look at one council’s guidance details at http://www.cheshireeasthighways.org/Uploads/Files/ReviewofGuidanceforPedestrianCrossings2005.pdf

  8. I agree with J Knowles and John Tolhurst with regard to their views on what Andrew Bamji has said.
    For a country town – Rye (unfortunately like so many) is amazingly not pedestrian friendly – pavements narrow when road width allows for wider and speeding cars.
    A car inadvertently mounting a pavement and hitting a pedestrian even at 20mph can result in serious or life threatening injury.
    I walk my son to school using Deadmans Lane – despite cars rarely appearing to exceed 20mph – pedestrians have in places only one metre between a passing car and the fence with no pavement – not enough – particularly if you have a pram, dog or children by your side. A car passing by so close at 20mph is stressful. 5-10mph should be the limit for this road at the western end of it.
    It is crazy to think that Deadmans Lane (a single track no pavement route) is the ONLY vehicular access into Rye on the north side.
    We should NEVER need to wait for an incident before improving road safety. Any person knows when a road situation feels dangerous.

  9. In support of ASTIR.

    Thanks Mr Bamji please inform us just what has the highways forum achieved? No doubt well intentioned but it’s clearly time for a change.
    Rules are there to be challenged and should not deter the determined.

    Please tell me why in France Spain and Portugal, most rural and urban towns and villages, have speeds of 30 KPH i.e. 20 MPH. Achieved on the equivalent of A roads and controlled by traffic lights on approach together with various road calming devices. Cost has not been an issue or excuse there.

    Speed around towns such as Rye require a cultural change and is being led by the above countries together with informed councils e.g. as in many London boroughs.

    As to comments about waiting for HGVs to be electrified appears typical of the highways forums approach to change. Wait no action required now.

    Good luck to ASTIR.


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