There has been growing public concern about vehicle speeds in rural areas, particularly through villages. To examine this problem, the Department of Transport is participating in the VIllage SPeed Control Working Group (VISP) with the County Surveyors' Society, and the Scottish and Welsh Offices. Alongside this initiative, Devon and Gloucestershire County Councils, as well as other highway authorities, have installed speed reducing measures, known as 'gateways', on the approaches to villages. These measures are intended to impart to drivers that they are about to enter a different environment from the open road and that they should reduce their speed. During 1992, eight villages (Beaford, Newton Tracey, Roachill, Landkey, Swimbridge Newland, Swimbridge, Halberton and Woodbury) and two small towns in Devon (Dawlish and Tavistock), and eight villages in Gloucestershire (Bishops Cleeve, Dymock, Fairford, Frampton-on-Severn, Littledean, Maisemore, Whelford and Whiteshill) were treated. In Devon, the measures include redesigned village nameplates, speed limit signs, hatched road markings and speed limit roundels painted on the carriageway, contrasting surfacing, central islands (some with planting) and night-time gateway illumination. In Gloucestershire, each gateway has village nameplates incorporating a "drive carefully" message, with red and white bars beneath them. Edge-of-carriageway markings and reflector posts compliment the signing. At two sites advance warning of traffic calming and rumble areas were installed in advance of the gateway. Gateways with visual impact, a central island, advance warning of traffic calming, and those on wider roads tended to be more effective, reducing 85th percentile speeds by up to 9mph. Less effective were gateways sited where, for example, a bend or blind summit was already limiting speeds. There was less impact on speeds within the villages, where additional measures seem necessary to achieve a reasonable reduction. The results will help towards the formulation of advice to assist highway engineers in designing appropriate speed reducing measures, particularly on village approaches. The need for public consultation when designing measures has been demonstrated. (A)

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