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Winchelsea Speed Watch

Winchelsea's traffic problem

Winchelsea's problem is the excessive speed of traffic passing through the village on:

  • C298 (Strand Hill-High Street-German Street-Monks Walk)
  • A259(T) (Rectory Lane-Roberts Hill-Ferry Hill-Tanyard Lane).

The problem on the C298 is rat-running by vehicles seeking to avoid slow traffic on the A259(T) at Ferry Hill --- both at the narrow gap at the top (by the Ferry Gate) and on the hairpin bend at the bottom of the hill. 

Some drivers rat-running through Winchelsea accelerate down the High Street in order to beat traffic coming the other way through the Strand Gate --- where the road narrows to a single lane.

Secondary rat-runs have developed down side streets as some vehicles seek to avoid occasional delays on the C298:

  • Some rat-runners coming up the High Street prefer to avoid German Street and Monks Walk. Instead, they cross into Hiham Gardens in order to rejoin the A259(T) earlier. But this means cutting across a sharp left bend and across traffic coming the other way. Accidents inevitably occur.
  • To avoid possible delays on the High Street and German Street, some rat-runners cut down Back Lane and Rookery Lane. These are otherwise quiet side streets where speeding vehicles take pedestrians by surprise and where there are no pavements. Back Lane also crosses the junction with the road to the primary school and is often blocked with the parked cars of parents and thronged with children coming from or going to the school.

Other danger spots in Winchelsea include:

  • T-junction at the bottom of Strand Hill --- vehicles heading for Rye have to cut across traffic coming from the right, whose approach is hidden from view by a house at the very edge of the road, while at the same time watching for traffic coming from the left, whose approach is hidden by a bend in the road. 
  • The single-lane bend through the Strand Gate --- a source of accidents and conflict between inconsiderate drivers. This bottleneck encourages speeding to try to beat opposing traffic.
  • Monks Walk --- rat-runners try to time by speeding down the long straight stretch.
  • High Street --- the speed of traffic is often too fast for the conditions prevailing along this road, which crosses the busy junction with Castle Street and St Thomas�s Street, across which there is a lot of pedestrian traffic to and from the village shop and post office, and to and from the church;
  • Hiham Green --- rat-running drivers coming down German Street often miss the sharp right bend into the High Street. They sometimes crash into the corner or overshoot into Hiham Green. Because this corner is also crossed by the secondary rat-run into Hiham Gardens (see above), it is the single most dangerous traffic hazard in Winchelsea.
  • Rectory Lane --- a long, straight stretch of road that encourages speeding, despite a 30mph speed limit for most its length. There is an accident hotspot at the southern end, where the bend at the bottom of Sandrock Hill passes a motel.
  • The Strand and Tanyard Lane --- there are accident hotspots at the western end, where the hairpin bend at the bottom of Ferry Hill forces large vehicles have to cut across lanes when negotiating the bend, and at the eastern end, where vehicles coming from Rye often overshoot the sharp bend past the junction with Sea Road.
  • Station Road --- speeding traffic uses this narrow, winding rural lane as a shortcut to avoid Rye. It also includes one of the most dangerous railway crossings in the country.

A fundamental obstacle to solving the traffic problem in the citadel is the fact that the main streets are long, straight and quite wide, valued legacies of the medieval town which must be conserved, but which unfortunately tend to encourage speeding. Recent research by the Transport Research Laboratory (Report 661) into the influence of road geometry on vehicle speed and casualty rate has shown forward visibility and carriageway width to be highly significant causes of speeding and accidents.

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Bottleneck on the A259 by Ferry Gate
Bottleneck on the A259 by Ferry Gate
Hairpin bend on the A259 at Ferry Hill
Hairpin bend on the A259 at Ferry Hill
Bottleneck approach
Bottleneck approach to Strand Gate
Single lane through Strand Gate
Single lane through Strand Gate
Accident to rat-runner in Hiham Gardens
Accident to rat-runner in Hiham Gardens
German Street looking towards Monks Walk
German Street looking towards Monks Walk
Monks Walk looking south
Monks Walk looking south
Bend at bottom of Monks Walk
Bend at bottom of Monks Walk
Vehicle cutting the corner by the New Inn 1
Vehicle cutting the corner by the New Inn 1
Vehicle cutting the corner by the New Inn 2
Vehicle cutting the corner by the New Inn 2
Vehicle cutting the corner by the New Inn 3
Vehicle cutting the corner by the New Inn 3

See more images on Flickr.