T-junction of terror


In the space of two weeks, two meetings will have been hosted by different organisations both looking at different aspects of walking and cycling in and around Rye.
On Monday February 19 Sustrans, commissioned by East Sussex County Council, hosted a stakeholder meeting to get input into the creation of a walking and cycling strategy for Rye and Camber. A week later on March 1, Natural England are consulting on how to improve coastal access along the 33-mile stretch of the East Sussex coast between Eastbourne and Camber, via Rye.
I would plead that both groups give serious attention to the dangerous junction where Harbour Road meets Winchelsea Road. This junction forms part of the National Cycle Network (Route 2) and the proposed Coastal Path but acts more as a barrier to safe cycling and walking.
As a pedestrian walking from Rye out to Rye Harbour or Camber Castle you are thrown off the pavement into the junction because the pavement just disappears. You have nowhere to hide as cars turn down Harbour Road at speed and it just doesn’t feel safe. You are forced to attempt to cross the two lanes to reach the other side while cars on Harbour Road are also impatiently trying to move off at any gap in the traffic and turn right into Winchelsea Road.
It is equally unsettling as a cyclist. Even though the distance from Rye is quite short, cars pick up speed in anticipation of the straight stretch of Winchelsea Road ahead. This usually involves cars closely tailgating you until you can turn down Harbour Road – and that’s when it gets really dangerous because you have to cycle across to the opposite side of the road to the cycle path with a blind bend ahead. You have no way of knowing if traffic is approaching but you daren’t stop in case a speeding car comes up behind you and knocks you over.
As a cyclist, the reverse journey is equally fearful. Turning right from Harbour Road onto Winchelsea Road and you are literally throwing yourself in front of the relentless speeding vehicles because there are so few gaps in the traffic.
A new pedestrian and cyclist-only route would be an ideal, for instance a pedestrian and cycle bridge connecting Rock Channel Quay and Harbour Road over the River Brede, thus avoiding the perilous junction. As a minimum, a short term solution is needed that slows down the traffic. This could be the installation of traffic lights at the junction that would allow pedestrians and cyclists to use it safely.
The health benefits of cycling and walking are well known but it’s the role of local planners at East Sussex County Council to make the environment conducive and to encourage it.

Images from Google Maps

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  1. We were promised improvements to the Rye harbour road many years ago,and were told development would be stopped until these were done, sadly our Councillors and East Sussex Highways have as always reneged on their promises.

  2. The deterioration of the road surfaces all around Rye contribute greatly to the dangers for cyclists and have led to accident, injury and loss within our family in the last few weeks. Relevant to this helpful and revealing article, the deep potholes all across the junction between the Rye Harbour road and the A259 Winchelsea Road may be only an irritation for motorists, but they are a genuine danger for cyclist, especially given the volumes of traffic – which includes huge heavy lorries.

  3. Absolutely agree on how dangerous this junction is for both cyclists and pedestrians.
    Cutting back vegetation on the corner would be a start so that cars turning into harbour road can see people crossing.

  4. Absolutely agree. Writing as a pedestrian with disabled spouse, to turn down Rye Harbour Road from Winchelsea Road, or vice versa, is an absolute nightmare.
    I was terrified last summer to see a Dutch family cycling with two small children trying to make sense of the traffic and cross safely.

  5. It is worth reminding readers that ESCC has a website where you can report road problems such as potholes. Submissions are dealt with promptly and efficiently. That said I agree that the abrupt end of the pavement on Winchelsea Road on the East side of Harbour Road is a hazard and the Highways Forum will consider how to sort it.
    The Conservation Society has in the past proposed putting a mini roundabout at the junction but Highways England claim the traffic flow down Harbour Road is insufficient to justify it.

    • Unanimous then that ‘something should be done’. I understand Highways think there wouldn’t be space for large lorries to negotiate a mini roundabout. It therefore has to be traffic lights with a pedestrian phase.
      One thing that has changed in the last decade is the number of people working in the Harbour Industrial Estates, I guess 200-300, nearly all commuting by car via this junction.

  6. As East Sussex County council own the land adjacent to the harbour road, which one must say has become an overgrown eyesore, it’s high time Keith Glazier who is supposed to be our representative,got his act together, as this problem will not go away,sadly over the years it’s the usual empty promises, and no action.

  7. Trying to cross this junction from Rye to New Winchelsea Road, a school(!) bus turning left into Harbour Road, (at what seemed like super speed) slightly mounted the extremely narrow footpath (hardly any at all) just missing my daughter, myself and dog on a lead.
    Going the opposite way back into Rye crossing this road you have to totally rely on cars intending to drive up Harbour Road to indicate left before doing so – which they don’t all do until they spot you half way across the road!
    Installation of traffic lights/pedestrian crossing lights would deal with the problem.

  8. This issue has been raised repeatedly during the development of the Rye Neighbourhood Plan. As a result we have reflected the need for junction improvements in the Plan as Aspiration 5. It must be an aspiration because any work there would be funded in the main by partners. Although ESCC has earmarked a slice of the corner (part of the ESCC owned former gritting depot) to provide space for any future improvements, traffic lights with a timed sequence to allow pedestrians to cross would seem to be the most practicable and cost effective solution. Rye Town Council has just allocated money for a study of the increased danger and risk to pedestrians crossing by the Jempsons Extension. Perhaps the Council could do something similar for this location?
    http://www.ryeneighbourhood plan.org.uk

  9. We regularly walk into Rye from New Winchelsea Road and each time risk life and limb crossing this junction. I now never cross the junction until all lanes are clear of oncoming traffic. It can take time! I never accept kind offers from waiting drivers to go ahead and cross; I have learnt not to from a narrow escape once when I was almost hit by a truck turning right into Harbour Road from the Hastings direction which did not see me. I was beckoned across from a driver waiting to turn left and started to cross thinking it was safe as I could see no indicators on any cars coming from any direction and this truck turned right into the road and narrowly missed me. It was a big truck! Since then I do not trust any driver who doesn’t indicate left or right, that they won’t in fact turn into Rye Harbor Road at the very last minute. Hence some very long waits for me. But I am still alive. Traffic lights would probably be the cheapest option. As Dr Anthony Kimber says above, this junction does feature in the neighbourhood plan for which I am grateful. It’s about time traffic lights are installed. The danger to pedestrians and cyclists is increasing (I cycle too) and no one wants a serious accident or worse to happen before safety measures are put in place..


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