Landgate traffic


Articles in Rye News on November 4, 2021 and last week, highlighted repeat occurrences of large lorries trying to turn through the Landgate.

Jim Wood’s article last week flagged-up anomalies in the road signage and that lead to the conclusion that something is clearly wrong with the signs or the designation of the roads.

The approach to Rye Station has a clear sign with no mention of width or height restrictions:

The sign at the top of Station Approach is also clear. It refers to Town Centre (via a narrow arch) with height and width restrictions, 300 yards away.

Circular signs give orders – they must be followed to stay within the law. Circles with red borders tell drivers what they must not do.

There is a traffic sign at the bottom of Conduit Hill, which is clear and informs drivers approaching from Rope Walk that there is a narrow arch and width limit to the left:

This sign and the sign at the top of Station Approach both refer to a “narrow arch”, the inference being that the width restriction would be the narrow arch. Both show the width restriction and height restriction in red circles.

After turning left, drivers can see a sign on the side of the Art Shop beside Devonport House, which is where the confusion starts. It indicates that the width restriction applies to turning left away from the Landgate (which isn’t the case – see below). The Town Centre to the right is shown with an advisory height restriction in the triangle (which isn’t the case – see below).

Further along Tower Street, there is a sign above the Lemongrass Restaurant. It “applies” the width restriction. By law, no vehicle more than 2M (6’-6”) should pass, except for access to the left. It isn’t very clear that this is the case.

We don’t know what the highway designations are but maybe they are wrong.

We know from the Rye News articles, photographs of large lorries trying to turn right, and damage to bollards, that large lorries cannot turn right through the narrow and low arch of the Landgate. It is the sign on the side of the Art Shop that causes confusion (we hope that the highway designations are not in accordance with this sign).

We know that wide vehicles can turn left at the end of Tower Street. That is how the lorries photographed for Rye News eventually “escaped”. Also, buses and other wide vehicles travel the route regularly, so there is no need for confusion. The signage needs to be corrected so that it is clear and consistent that the height and width restrictions apply to the narrow arch at the Landgate.

Image Credits: Geoffrey Austen .

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  1. You remark on the “highway designations”, saying maybe they are wrong. The signage in Tower Street IS WRONG. There is a total confusion about turning left or right. While limiting signage in Rye is very necessary, attempting to put too much on the sign outside The Lemongrass has directly led to the damage to Rye’s environment. I stood in Tower Street (which I have known all of my 77 years) a few days ago, and, as a motorist, considered what the signs told me. They do NOT tell me that I cannot take an artic to the right.
    Dr Nick Hudd, Tenterden.

  2. Participants at the Town Meeting suggested that lorry drivers are following their satnavs, often using Google Maps on their phones rather than a built-in system, and turning right mistakenly at the Landgate rather than taking the (sort of) safe right turn onto Fishmarket Road.

    If this is the case, even correct signage (and I agree it looks confusing) may not help. We can criticize the drivers after the fact, but we’ll still get the damage, and one day it’ll be the Landgate that’s destroyed as well as the bollards.

    Perhaps it’s time to take drastic action, and review the whole question of allowing vehicle access (anything larger than a van) to the town’s streets. Yes, I can hear all the businesses and Citadel residents yelling at me from here, but it must be possible to work out some new ways of doing things. Can a physical height barrier (which can be unlocked for emergency access) be introduced on Station Approach so that it’s physically impossible for huge lorries to turn toward the Landgate, and an alternate route worked out? Could the one-way system be changed? Dare I mention the word “bypass?” Expensive and difficult solutions, no doubt, but expecting 20th-century signage to solve the 21st-century problem of satnav blindness is going to lead to the even more expensive problem of restoring the beautiful old structures on which the fame of Rye rests.

  3. What a mess all those street signs look in a place such as Rye. More and more street pollution. And I very much doubt many lorry drivers look at them, they are too busy relying on their GPS.


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