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Rubbish Infrastructure of the Month 5: Willingale Road Chicanes

Willingale Road in Debden is a narrow residential street which follows the perimeter of the mid-20th century Debden housing estate. The road itself, like many roads first built in this era, consists of cast concrete slabs covered with a thin layer to tarmac. As is common, the condition of the road today is generally poor.

Along the length of Willingale Road there are a number of Chicanes which Eftag presumes serve to slow down speeding traffic. One wonders what this was meant to achieve in reality, given the speed limit remains a frightening 30mph. Five schools have a fence along Willingale Road and a huge number of children could be concealed by the parked cars which ordinarily line the length of the road, usually obstructing the pavement, as pictured.

The actual chicanes themselves have a nod to active travel, offering by-passing cycleways in both directions (or through the single chicane where the design is different nearer The Broadway). These cycleways are however blighted by a dreadful road surface which is neither swept nor maintained for smoothness.

The cycleways are also commonly obscured by parked vehicles, vehicles which often also obstruct them. We see in the above image that there was once a hatched road marking implying that the approach to the cycleway should be kept clear. This hasn’t been maintained but given there were never waiting restrictions which might allow tickets to be issued, Eftag suspects that the driver of the white van would not have been deterred.

Parked cars also block the exits to the cycleways, where riders have to re-merge into the main flow of traffic just a few metres after they left it. The example depicted here is not the worst Eftag has seen. The lanes themselves are extremely narrow too and this too poses a hazard to would-be users. Eftag suspects that no tricycle could use this facility safely and we do have tricycle users in our community in Epping Forest.

While these small token cycleways have been severely neglected, no maintenance could have made them good. They are an afterthought, a hollow concession to those road users most impacted by a flawed speed reduction programme. Willingale Road desperately needs a fully accessible cycleway which can serve its schools, and a 20mph speed limit. Eftag is asking for exactly that.

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