Willow Brook backtracks over speed bumps

Photo of a recently fitted speed cushion.

Bradley Stoke’s Willow Brook shopping centre has removed a series of much-criticised full-width speed bumps from its private access road and replaced them with softer ‘island-style’ speed bumps. The move came less than three months after the 50mm-high full-width bumps, widely condemned as being “overly harsh”, were fitted in mid-March.

The U-turn leaves the traffic calming measures on the access road looking much the same as they did prior to March, albeit with two of the island bumps being relocated closer to the zebra crossing in the vicinity of the Tesco petrol filling station.

The full-width bumps had been criticised, not only for the discomfort they caused to vehicle occupants and fears that they might be damaging to vehicle suspension and/or wheel alignment, but also because of the traffic queues that built up due to some drivers slowing almost to a halt to pass over them.

Support for the new measures came from those particularly concerned about the safety of pedestrians using the zebra crossing and some drivers who had experienced oncoming vehicles swerving into the centre of the road to avoid the previous cushion-type bumps.

The issues surrounding the new bumps, in particular their alleged role in causing “congestion on surrounding public roads”, were raised by a town councillor at a committee meeting on 17th April and the town clerk was instructed to write to the Willow Brook Centre management to raise these concerns.

A comprehensive reply from centre manager Andy Wynn was subsequently tabled at the council’s AGM on 15th May. Mr Wynn justified the introduction of the new bumps on road safety grounds and said the style of bump fitted was ‘industry standard’ for a road with a 10mph speed limit. A combination of seasonal factors had led to long tailbacks forming around the centre on the last Saturday in March, but traffic queues seemed to be “reducing week-on-week as more and more people adjust to driving over the bumps at the optimum speed of 8-10mph”.

Councillors at the meeting seemed unconvinced by the reply, with one stating that he now chose to shop elsewhere and another claiming the council were being told to “get stuffed”. A face-to-face meeting with Mr Wynn was suggested as the way forward.

However, before a meeting could be arranged, a further turn of events, on Sunday 2nd June, once again brought matters to a head. Perhaps because of the heavy rain that Sunday, many shoppers seemed to leave their shopping trip until late in the day, with the result that, at 4pm, when all the stores closed simultaneously, the entire Willow Brook Centre car park became gridlocked and took around 30 minutes to empty – it is assumed because of the throttling effect of the bumps along the exit route.

Three days later, at around 9pm on Thursday 6th June, contractors were observed removing the new bumps and replacing them with ones of the previous style.

A statement obtained from the centre the following day said:

“We have been monitoring traffic levels over recent weeks in and around Willow Brook. Whilst there has been improvement in some areas, the level of queues experienced by our customers on Sunday evening, the second time that the combination of the levels of traffic and the speed bumps has led to such queues, was not acceptable. As such we reviewed plans on Monday morning and have removed the first two of the new bumps in favour of relocated island bumps either side of the pedestrian crossing.”

The remaining full-width bumps were replaced the following day.

Photo of one of the new full-width speed bumps.

Photos: 1 One of the replacement speed cushions fitted on 6th/7th June. 2 One of the previous full-width speed bumps fitted in mid-March.

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of the Bradley Stoke Journal magazine (on page 29). The magazine is delivered FREE, EVERY MONTH (except August), to ALL 8,700 homes in Bradley Stoke. Phone 01454 300 400 to enquire about advertising or leaflet insertion.

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One comment

  1. I walk my kids to school down that road and across the zebra crossing.
    I was one of the supporters of the newer ‘harsher’ speed bumps, although I agree they did go too far.
    The ‘new new’ “cushions” are, as you say, exactly the same as they were before – they do virtually nothing to slow drivers down, as you can happily go over them at 20-30 mph and hardly notice. Bizarrely, some drivers still insist on weaving between them (so they can travel even faster than 20-30? Not sure).
    The main problem for me is some poor drivers speeding round the corner Northbound towards the zebra, and not wanting to slow down or stop. We had two incidents in the first week that the harsher bumps were removed. There should be a harsher speed bump either side of the zebra to prevent this, though maybe not as harsh as the ones taken out.
    The situation now is too far in favour of drivers, and this should be rectified IMHO – but as most people drive to the Willow Brook you can understand why this is where we find things.
    I have started filming our walks to school and will report any problems directly to Avon and Somerset video submissions officers. I will not bother reporting to anyone else. (https://www.avonandsomerset.police.uk/accidents/#/)

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