Reader's Letter: A34 Bypass - Would you use this road looking at these facts?

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I just wanted to comment on the latest crash on the A34 Bypass at Nether Alderley.

It is clear over the last few years this section of the bypass which is single carriageway is extremely dangerous to life. There needs to be something done about this section of road and immediately before anybody else is killed.

1st February 2021

A 32 year old man critically ill, another man also suffered serious injuries, after a crash involving two cars (Time of crash 20:15pm)

8th January 2020

The assistant coroner for Cheshire said the bypass 'Presents a danger to life' after the inquest into the deaths of three people killed on 4th November 2018. A minibus hit another car travelling in opposite directions. (Time of crash 12:04am)

29th December 2019

Two people were involved in a two car collision on the A34 Bypass and had to attend hospital. (Time of crash 12:22pm)

4th November 2018

Three people tragically killed in an accident on the bypass between a mini-bus and a car. (Time of crash 00:04am)

14th November 2017

Councillors proposed a reduction in the speed limit.

3rd November 2017

An 85 year old man and a 82 year old woman killed when they crashed into a van going in the opposite direction. (Time of crash 16:00pm)

23th March 2016

Two people were injured in a two car accident on the Alderley Bypass this time not seriously. (Time of crash 19:11pm)

13th February 2015

A man was found guilty at Chester Crown court of causing death by dangerous driving on the AE bypass after the death of an eleven years old boy Flynn Morrissey after a head on collision (Time of crash 08:00am on 16th September 2013)

21st September 2104

Three vehicles were involved in a crash on the bypass the road was closed for six hours. Fire engines had to attend the scene as people had to be cut out of the cars. (Time of crash 11:40pm)

16th September 2013

Eleven years old Flynn Morrissey was killed in a fatal accident when a Porsche Cayman hit a Ford Focus travelling in the opposite direction. (Time of crash 08:07am)

There appears to be a common theme here as it is a single carriageway and most incidents appear to happen when it has gone dark in the evening. I would like to know what Cheshire East Council are doing about this dangerous road. It is very clear after the above reports of previous accidents lots of people showed their distrust for the bypass and felt it is unsafe putting suggestions to Cheshire East.

Yes, to fix we know it will be expensive but how many people will have to die before the council actually do fix it and we have no further loss of live. So the big question what exactly are Cheshire East doing or are they going to talk about how expensive it is to fix.

I have taken all these reports from alderleyedge.com and as you can see it makes uncomfortable reading. I should point out that since all these incidents started happened I have not used this part of the bypass myself, and indeed I have only used it once when it opened and after seeing how dangerous it was for myself never since.

David Carey

Concerned resident of Alderley Edge

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Comments

Here's what readers have had to say so far. Why not add your thoughts below.

Brian Hamilton
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 3:06 pm
David is spot on with his analysis. I said when the by-pass opened it would be a death trap, having gone from a dual-carriageway, to single carriageway, and having no junctions or roundabouts, it has the feel of a motorway. It also encourages the motorcyclists and performance cars to exceed speed limits. Unfortunately, I'm sure there will more serious injuries and deaths before anything is done.
Andy Brown
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 3:12 pm
The council will no doubt do the obvious thing and reduce the speed limit which will only make the road more dangerous. It will encourage more people into overtaking.

I read somewhere that as the road from Manchester is primarily dual carriageway that once you've gone over the roundabout a lot of the crashes are due to people overtaking but actually thinking they are still on a dual carriageway. Perhaps solid double white lines in the relevant places would remind people that they have left a dual carriageway?
Pip Warne
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 4:15 pm
Comments excellent.. can only add that as is prevalent with much of the country’s either confusing or misleading communication .... in this case inferior, ineffective and non existent serious warning signage that this is a two way highway not a dual carriageway!
Craig Browne
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 5:12 pm
Hi David,

Thank you for your letter. You will be aware of course that, following the triple fatality which occurred in November 2018, Cheshire East Highways in consultation with Cheshire Police installed some textured surfacing and carriageway separation markings along the bypass.

Whilst welcoming the move, I recall saying at the time that these measures were the bare minimum necessary and that solid white lines (no overtaking) and a reduction in the speed limit to 50mph, along with enhanced speed enforcement were also essential.

Officers have continued to discuss further potential measures, including the possible introduction of average speed cameras, through the Cheshire Road Safety Partnership. I have raised this with the relevant cabinet member and requested an update.

I'm also aware at this time that the Police & Crime Commissioner is intending to make provision for the installation of average speed cameras at eight locations across the county of Cheshire and I will be pressing for the bypass to be considered as part of this.

I have a briefing scheduled with officers over the coming weeks and will provide a public update following this briefing.

Kind regards,
Craig
Carol Bland
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 5:26 pm
Completely agree with everything Andy Brown has said , the road is long enough without reducing the

speed , the sooner those solid double white lines are down the better .
Alastair Wolff
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 5:28 pm
To answer your question - yes, I live in Nether Alderley, I use this road every day, as do my wife and children, and I do not believe it is any more dangerous than any other road of its kind.

Any road traffic accident, injury or loss of life, is always regrettable, and of course our thoughts and prayers are with those affected, however, according to government statistics, 27,820 people were killed or seriously injured on the roads of Britain in the last year (for which statistics are available), so it would be wrong to think that accidents and tragedies don't happen, or that they can be reduced to zero.

And without a proper understanding of the facts, or training in accident investigation, I simply do not see how you can blame the design of the road for all these accidents. The very fact that 26,000 vehicles per day use this road, and on most days, with no incidents at all, tells me that this road has been designed and built to a high standard, and is fit for purpose.

I certainly feel safer on the Alderley Edge bypass, than I do on many other sections of the A34, going south towards Congleton, or on other Cheshire A-roads, which have not been designed and built to the same high standard.

I would obviously much prefer to see no further loss of life, or serious injury, on any of Britain's roads, but I think those who constantly pick out the Alderley Edge bypass for criticism, are simply scaremongering, and unnecessarily trying to highlight problems that simply do not exist, which could mean that less attention is given to the real reasons why these crashes happened.
Donald Strathdee
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 6:40 pm
Is it really the road?
Possibly it’s reputation.
Two weeks ago whilst walking with a friend across the Soss Moss bridge across the buy pass at Nether Alderney we watched in amazement as a BMW travelling North crossed the hatching referred to by Councillor Browne over taking a number of cars before getting nowhere behind other traffic.
Idiot.
These people should be banned. They are putting other people’s lives at risk.
The only answer short of rebuilding the road is for cameras located every half a mile.
Helen Williams
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 7:46 pm
Why does this stretch of road get so much attention? Right now there's three 'shrines' on the stretch of A34 from Monk's Heath to Congleton yet it never gets a mention!
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 8:45 pm
There is absolutely nothing wrong with this road. It is well engineered with no sharp bends or steep gradients, and with segregated cycle lanes. I wish other roads in the area were of similar high standard.

I use it regularly by car and by motorcycle and have absolutely no qualms doing so. However, it is not a road that offers safe overtaking opportunities because of long sweeping bends with insufficient sight lines ahead to allow a safe overtake, or the dip to the railway bridge where the bridge itself blocks the line of sight in its one straight section, in both directions.

There is absolutely no point in reducing the speed limit as (as others have said) as that may encourage some to try an overtake which us unsafe for the above reasons. My experience is that many cars only travel at 50 mph along it anyway, perhaps ignorant of the national speed limit on single carriageway roads of 60 mph, a legal and (in good conditions) a perfectly safe speed on this road.

However, there is a strong case for double white centre lines along the entire length to discourage overtaking.

I should add in response to some posts, that if any driver does not recognise that is a single carriageway road and thinks it dual carriageway.... Well.... I would be just amazed. Heavens above there is no shortage of clues that it is what it is!
Richard Bullock
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 10:37 pm
Before everyone switches back to the old road out of fear of the bypass, probably worth pointing out that whilst there have been 9 incidents between opening date and the end of 2019 classified as "serious" on the Alderley bypass, including the 3 fatals mentioned above, the old road through Alderley village has had 13 "serious" incidents in the same timeframe, including a fatality. And the A34 Wilmslow/Handforth bypass up to Handforth dean have also had 13, including 4 fatals. A34 between Monk's Heath + Congleton: 22 serious including 5 fatal accidents. Unfortunately no road is completely without risk.

Looking where the accidents have happened on the Alderley Bypass is revealing through. Out of the 9 serious, 7 have taken place within a 1/3rd of a mile stretch north from about the Brook Lane bridge, including 2 of the fatal accidents. Perhaps the council could look at improving the alignment in this particular area. I don't know whether this would have helped in this particular incident however. But perhaps the sight-lines in this particular area are giving people the false impression that it's clear to overtake when it isnt?
Michael Blomeley
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 10:49 pm
In my view as a fairly frequent user of this road, there is nothing intrinsically wrong with it. The problem is with idiot drivers who seem incapable of driving sensibly. You only have to travel on the dual carriageway section to observe the stupidity of so many drivers who treat it like a race track. Some of that attitude will be present on the Alderley section, where overtaking is a very risky business. I would have no problems with a double centreline along most of the road if that is what it takes to discourage that sort of driving, though the 40mph pootlers are another menace.
David Carey
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 8:57 am
Hi Craig
Thanks for your quick response to my letter. I think everbody welcomes anything to help with safety on roads.

I have always thought one of the issues on this strethc of road is 'safe overtaking'. Will the installation of solid white lines (no overtaking) help if installed, I hope so, but I think we have to see what happens in the long term. I do believe excessive speed can be a factor, and how that is safely combatted without exacerbating the problem will be a challenge.

Many thanks to Richard for his post regarding facts and figures for serious traffic incidents on other local roads. One thing became apparent was the A34 between Monks Heath and Congleton has had five fatalities (although not sure over what time period). After comparing the facts and figures the bypass has unfortunately had six tragic fatalities so far, which statistically points to this being a road to be very wary of. Also Richards other comment regarding where the accidents actually occurred and sight lines on the bypass are interesting points.

The whole point of my letter was to make people aware of this road and the number of incidents. Everybody has their own view on what could be done (or indeed nothing) but I am really sure of one thing I don’t want to be having the same conversation in a years time.

Many thanks
Richard Bullock
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 2:18 pm
@DavidCarey: The timeframe for the incidents on the Monk's Heath to Congleton road were since the Alderley Bypass opened - same as the stats for the bypass itself. On the new bypass, there have been 6 deaths, but in 3 separate incidents. On the Monk's Heath-Congleton stretch: 5 separate fatal incidents.

However this data only goes up to the end of 2019 - and I've found police reports of a further two fatal accidents in 2020: one where two were killed near Marton and another where a lone driver was killed near Siddington. So that's actually 7 fatal accidents in the same period of time where the Alderley bypass has had three. Without downloading the detailed breakdown, I can't see the exact number killed, but one of those incidents involved 4 different vehicles and 5 casualties (some of whom might have survived).
Tony Haluradivth
Thursday 4th February 2021 at 7:22 pm
I agree with Vince Chadwick's comments. Spot on (there you go
Vince there is always a first time for everything ;))
Craig do not allow the Council to reduce the speed limit ...that is a lazy solution just maintain as is with no overtaking *solid white line). Use cameras to raise revenue from overtakers and aggressive motorists who tailgate . We dont want to be constantly fining those who are 4 miles over the national limits
Tony Haluradivth
Thursday 4th February 2021 at 7:23 pm
I agree with Vince Chadwick's comments. Spot on (there you go
Vince there is always a first time for everything ;))
Craig do not allow the Council to reduce the speed limit ...that is a lazy solution just maintain as is with no overtaking *solid white line). Use cameras to raise revenue from overtakers and aggressive motorists who tailgate . We dont want to be constantly fining those who are 4 miles over the national limits
Stephen Justice
Thursday 4th February 2021 at 9:19 pm
Fascinating comments. The one that particularly stood out for me was the reference to “40mph pootlers” who apparently constitute a menace on a road with a speed limit of 60mph.

Note that’s a speed limit, not a target...

Craig as ever, has already facilitated some safety measures and has indicated more will come.

If “idiot drivers” are a problem then anti idiot measures are unfortunately entirely necessary and the superior (something like 75% of men believe they’re above average drivers... a statistical impossibility!) drivers will just have to take a deep breath, relax and enjoy the “well engineered, high standard road”.
Mark Russell
Friday 5th February 2021 at 9:32 am
Stephen. A speed can also be inappropriately slow. 40mph on this straight road will feel more like 30mph especially coming of the dual carriageway. Therefore people will be more inclined to overtake. Holding other drivers up by slow driving is driving without due care and attention and can also lead to road rage, some of which is poor overtaking. The rules are very clear, it’s not just the speeders who are at fault but a certain section of drivers who think they are in right to drive slow to slow others down.

As with everything Cheshire east related, it’s not managed properly and despite deaths total inaction as normal.

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