A19 safety concerns
The Parish Council believes that action is required to improve the safety of the A19 through Escrick - both for pedestrians and motorists.
Although highways issues are the statutory responsibility of North Yorkshire County Council, and the Parish Council has no direct responsibility for highways issues - the Parish Council does have a role to represent major concerns of the local community. There has been a long term history of concerns regarding the A19, and the Parish Council is not satisfied that sufficient action has been taken and continues to push the County Council for improvements.
Current status (October 2020)
The Parish Council, County Councillor and North Yorkshire Highways Authority worked together over several years to find an acceptable solution for this area. The Highways Authority (part of North Yorkshire County Council) concluded that the desirable solution, and only feasible solution, was a traffic light controlled junction, with integral pedestrian crossings at the Skipwith Road junction. North Yorkshire County Council were unable to find funding for the capital costs of the scheme, but agreed that if the Parish Council funded the capital costs, they would proceed with the scheme and adopt it upon completion.
In May/June 2019 we consulted on the option for the Parish Council to increase its precept to fund the scheme. The results of the consultation were presented to July 2019's Parish Council meeting. In July 2019, Councillors agreed to apply to the Secretary of State for permission to borrow the funds.
Whilst the Parish Council was processing this application, North Yorkshire County Council amended its position, and advised that it would now require the Parish Council to cover the full life costs of the scheme and an up-front feasibility study, not just the initial capital costs. This effectively made the scheme unaffordable based upon borrowing available to the Parish Council, and it proved difficult to get an meaningful engagement with the Country Council on the matter.
In October 2020 the Parish Council concluded that there was no realistic prospect of the traffic light scheme going ahead. It was decided instead to pursue the option of a pelican/toucan crossing located approximately outside the SangThai. This is outside of Escrick Parish, and outside of the North Yorkshire County Council area, therefore the Council is seeking to engage with City of York Council and Deighton Parish Council on the scheme.
Frequently asked questions
Why does the Parish Council not reduce the speed limit on the A19?
The Parish Council cannot set speed limits. Speed limits are the responsibility of the Highways Authority - in our case this is North Yorkshire County Council. We pushed for a reduction in the limit to 30mph, but the County Council declined the request based upon national guidelines on speed limits. Whilst a reduction in speed limit may be desirable, we note that speed is not a causal factor in many of the accidents in the village, and that residents report issues at times of day when the average speed is already below 30mph (i.e. the morning rush hour).
What about other roads in the village / Parish?
Whilst this initiative is about the A19 through the village - the Parish Council has, and will continue, to make representations regarding other roads. In recent years speed monitoring has been undertaken on both Skipwith Road and Carr Lane. Carr Lane found no evidence of a speeding problem, however results from Skipwith Road did identify a problem and this area is now monitored by the police speed camera vans and has a vehicle activated speed sign. We are aware of a catalogue of other issues throughout the Parish, and are looking at further speed mitigation and road safety measures.
There have been a lot of serious accidents already - do you know about these?
All accidents that result in an injury are logged by the police, and these statistics are available to local authorities, the Parish Council and indeed the public. These show that for the 40mph section of A19 through Escrick there have been 22 reported injury accidents since 2010 - of which 20 were categorised as 'slight', 2 serious, and none fatal. Six of these occurred at the A19/Skipwith Road junction. Analysis of the causal factors suggests a variety of different causes, suggesting that a speed limit reduction on its own is unlikely to be effective.
The vehicle activated signs on the A19 seem to be broken most of the time
The signs on the A19 are solar powered and do not have battery back-up, therefore only work during daylight hours by design. They are inspected annually by the Highways Authority, and we do not believe there is a reliability problem with them.
In March 2016 vehicle speeds were monitored outside the Parsonage for 7 days using automated monitoring equipment. This found an average speed of 37mph southbound, 36mph northbound, and over 85% of vehicles below 42mph. Based on this data, authorities do not regard the road to have a speeding problem vs the current 40mph limit. (As above, we may question whether the limit is appropriate).
From November 2016 - March 2017 the Parish Council also coordinated establishing a local Community Speed Watch scheme.
This is a police sponsored scheme where the police provide speed measuring equipment and training to local volunteers, who can then undertake speed monitoring at pre-agreed locations. The aim is primarily to prompt driver awareness of their speed.
In March 2017 the A19 outside the Sang Thai became a designated police camera van location, and the Community Speed Watch scheme was stood down as the police do not allow CSW to operate on the same section of road as camera vans.
The statistics for police camera van deployments are:
|Year||Number of deployments||Number of motorists caught|
In May 2016 the Parish Council circulated a 'speed awareness form' from the North Yorkshire '95 alive' partnership to every household in the village. Around 70 responses were received and the Parish Council submitted these along with the attached request to the '95 alive' partnership. This letter sets out our key concerns with the A19 through Escrick.
In July we received the following reply to our letter:
Thank you for your report and concern regarding the speed of vehicles at the above location. With regards to the speeding complaint reported by you, speed and accident data has recently been obtained and has recently been reviewed by the Road Safety Partnership Team:-Having looked at the available information on roads safety in Escrick, we have decided unfortunately neither police enforcement nor road engineering works would be suitable. Data was gathered in March 2016 and it showed that vehicles do not often break the speed limits in your community. The speed data obtained indicates a mean (average) speed of 37/36 mph and an 85th %ile of 42/41 mph. The speed of vehicles at this location are well within the 40mph speed limit, which is appropriate for this road. We are happy to gather new data after three years, which in your instance would be March 2019.
Following this reply, in Summer 2016, the Parish Council met with a representative of NYCC highways team to discuss the recent history of the Skipwith Road / A19 junction. The key points made by NYCC were:
- There have been several attempts over the years to improve the A19 / Skipwith Road junction, but it has been difficult to find a scheme that meets highways design standards and available budget.
- In 2009, around £150,000 was allocated to install traffic lights - however highways standards require a right-turn lane into Skipwith Road, which (when applying minimum lane widths for a road of this nature) would have required the expansion of the carriageway into the area where the Church Lychgate and wall are sited - which was considered both unacceptable and beyond the available budget.
- A roundabout is not considered suitable, due to the nature of the traffic flow.
- Due to current County Council budget policy, there is no longer budget in NYCC for improvement schemes such as this in any case.
- 40mph is considered an appropriate speed for a road of this nature ( DfT Speed Assessment Framework and DfT Circular 01/2013 'Setting Local Speed Limits')
The Parish Council is not satisfied with this response - improvements could be made to the pedestrian crossing, and it is stated government policy in favour of 30mph limits through villages:
It is government policy that a 30 mph speed limit should be the norm in villages.
Traffic Advisory Leaflet 01/04 (DfT, 2004) sets out policy on achieving lower speed limits in villages, including a broad definition of what constitutes a village. For the purpose of applying a village speed limit of 30 mph, a definition of a village can be based on the following simple criteria relating to frontage development and distance:
i) 20 or more houses (on one or both sides of the road); and
ii) a minimum length of 600 metres.
If there are just fewer than 20 houses, traffic authorities should make extra allowance for any other key buildings, such as a church, shop or school.
In November 2016 the Parish Council sent a further letter to NYCC citing our dissatisfaction with the previous response, and copying our local MP:
In December 2016 we received the following reply from NYCC, setting out the technical reasons why a 30mph limit would not be possible.
Following this feedback relating to speed limits, the Parish Council decided to change its focus to requesting improvements to the pedestrian crossing - requesting either a zebra or puffin crossing to be installed.
On 7th April 2017, Parish Councillors met with representatives from NYCC highways team to discuss options for improvements to the pedestrian crossing. The current crossing consists of only a small central island, with no high visibility tarmac, no street lighting, and no traffic lights.
The highways engineers advised that it was not possible to locate a puffin or zebra crossing on the section of road, as required separation from junctions could not be achieved. The only solution would be to have a pedestrian crossing as part of a signal controlled junction (i.e. traffic lights).
Since May, the new County Councillor (Cllr Richard Musgrave) took up the cause, meeting with the highways teams to attempt to get the scheme prioritised for funding.
The Parish Council will continue to press for improvements to make it safer for pedestrians to cross the road, and motorists to exit Skipwith Road. Further updates will be published here.