Recent Proposal from Essex Highways

Essex Highways has received funding from the government to improve the safety of Epping New Road, because it is one of the 50 most dangerous roads in the country. From our perspective it is also currently a huge blight on the Forest, creating a huge barrier between the north-west and north-east of the Forest, with the high traffic speeds making it unsafe for visitors (walkers, cyclists, horseriders) to cross the road, with many visitors to the Forest therefore choosing routes which avoid Epping New Road altogether.

Only in July was a cyclist crossing Epping New Road killed by a speeding motorbike.

Essex Highways have presented their  proposals to the Epping Forest & Commons Committee and the Epping Forest Consultative Group. The slide deck of their proposals, which include details on the most recent crash and casualty data, can be seen here.

Epping New Road A104

Our Responses:

We support their plans to put in place speed cameras, but we think their current plans could go much further to reduce speeds, reduce pollution and make the Forest are more accessible to, and pleasant for, visitors.

We have been liaising with Epping Forest Transport Action Group and the London Cycling Campaign to feed in views, and will share more detailed suggestions in due course.

Our initial views are:

We welcome:

  • The plans for the speed cameras. These are proven to reduce speeds and reduce crashes. Lower speeds will also help reduce pollution in the Forest.

We think this is a huge opportunity to make Epping New Road work much better for the Forest and better for visitors to the Forest. We think:

  • That the whole of the A104 should move to 30mph. As set out in the paper to the Epping Forest and Commons Committee, and well evidenced elsewhere, lower speeds will lead to fewer crashes and less pollution. This will enhance the safety and enjoyment of the Forest for visitors, whether they are travelling down Epping New Road on their bikes, or wanting to cross Epping New Road on foot, by bike or on horseback. It will also help protect the precious ecosystems in the Forest.
  • Proper, safe provision for cycling should be made along the whole route.
  • A new layout and entrance could enable cyclists to get easily onto Fairmead Road which they could then use to continue north.
  • We think that there is potential to use this scheme not just to look at car park entrance improvements, but also how it can much better provide for visitors to the Forest the areas either side of Epping New Road – people walking in, running in, horse riding in, cycling in, to or through the Forest.
  • We think consideration should be given to more formal crossing points, where vehicles are slowed significantly or stopped, to enable walkers, cyclist and horse riders to cross safely.

We also have serious safety concerns about the proposals as they stand as follows:

  • Stopping/starting the 30mph limit at Rangers Road will simply encourage drivers to accelerate heading north, just when drivers and people cycling are trying to get across the traffic to turn into the Warren. Similarly drivers and cyclists exiting the Warren will have to face cars accelerating up to 40mph as they exit the 30mph area at the Warren. Pedestrians crossing from the Warren will also face the danger of these accelerating vehicles.
  • We also think there is an opportunity to engage Waltham Forest in discussions as to whether the whole of Rangers Road could move to 30mph for the same safety and pollution benefits.
  • The proposed pedestrian islands will be of considerable danger to cyclists as vehicles swerve left to avoid the islands causing severe pinch points and cycling fatalities. They are also of limited help to Forest visitors – walkers, cyclists, horse riders wanting to cross Epping New Road if vehicles are still travelling at 40mph. Instead, these should be more formal road crossings which don’t restrict road width, and allow for easy crossing for all the Forest visitors – walkers, cyclists, horse riders.
  • The central hatch markings proposed may increase speeds rather than reduce them as they provide a clearer separation from oncoming traffic and give a feeling of safety/invulnerability for drivers. The government guidance on this layout with islands specifically warns that the suggested layout may not be good for cycling, and says that the needs of cyclists must be taken into account.
  • In relation to the formal consultation we encourage Essex Council to engage with a wide range of Forest visitors – walkers, horse riders, cyclists as well as relevant community organisations around the Forest.

We will continue to monitor developments, and brief members, although Essex Highways are clear that there is not time for a formal consultation.

How you can help:

We would welcome people’s feedback on our initial views to policy@efht.org.uk