Opinion with Councillor Mike Garner: Improving road safety across Thanet

Cllr Mike Garner

Leader of the Green Group on Thanet District Council, Cllr Mike Garner, and his suggestions for road safety:

A recent accident in Church Street, St Peters, which resulted in a cyclist being seriously injured and needing hospital treatment, highlights the need for us to rethink how we can improve road safety for everyone.

Kent County Council has promised a public consultation following the cancellation of the Broadstairs and Westgate ‘active travel’ schemes, which were both ill-conceived and rushed through, and I’d like to propose a number of changes for them, and all of us, to consider.

A 20mph speed limit in all residential areas across Thanet:

Photo John Horton

Speed limits on the UK’s residential roads are already 60% higher than in other comparable European countries. Not only has reducing speed limits on residential roads been found to lower the incidence of accidents and the number of fatalities and serious injuries that result from them, a 20mph speed limit would also have the added benefit of improving the air quality of the area.

I believe there is significant local support for this simple change. At a recent Broadstairs & St Peters Town Council meeting, my motion to lobby KCC to implement a town-wide 20mph speed limit in residential areas was passed unanimously.

Road safety awareness and enforcement:

Introducing a 20mph speed limit alone is not enough, though. Our councils need to work with the police to raise awareness of road safety and to increase enforcement across the area. This could be done in a number of ways:

  • The introduction of radar speed signage. This can be fixed at the entrances to residential areas, while mobile signage can be available for accident hot spots highlighted by local residents.
  • The introduction of other road calming measures, like speed bumps, in areas where they are appropriate.

Making it easy to reduce car use:

Of course, our long-term aim needs to be a reduction in car traffic on the roads overall. We use our cars too often for short journeys when lots of us could either walk or cycle. To encourage this, we need to be making all roads, especially new ones, bike and pedestrian friendly.

Kent County Council has been allocated up to £8million as part of the Government’s push for ‘active travel’ and we have an opportunity during the upcoming public consultation to highlight areas in Thanet where this could best be spent, with a focus on making it easier for pupils to walk or cycle to school. I have a number of suggestions in my ward of St Peters.

If you have any suggestions for your local area either let me, or one of your local councillors, know, so that we can make our roads safer, and more accessible, for everyone.


      • There’s one on westgate bay avenue that huge numbers of people are too lazy to walk 50’ to use. Similar to the one by Boots in margate, it might just as well not be there given the number of people who won’t use it.

  1. I hope he sorts out some speed cameras for Newington Road Ramsgate , cars do a lot more than the speed limit I would say 50/60 MPH.
    I have nearly been hit many times on the crossing by bush avenue they just going too fast to stop.
    There have been a few deaths on this road and one house was smashed up , the car overturned .
    We have 3 schools on this road so it wont be long before a child is killed.
    It wont be until then that any action will be taken , oh we should have done this before.
    If the police would sit up Newington Road with a speed gun they would make a lot of money in fines.

    • Despite being in my late 70’s I am still riding a bike at least 4 times a week in Thanet, which I have been doing for the last 24 years! Cars are definitely ignoring the speed limits, so introduce 20mph as a matter of urgency! I am seriously thinking of having to give up cycling because not only are cars going faster, they are fatter, like most of the occupants! I am constantly being squeezed by cars when I am inside a traffic island, because there isn’t enough room for both of us!

      And don’t get me started on the state of the roads in Thanet, which are so poor, with potholes, and lowered drain covers, third world countries would be ashamed of them! Very soon electric scooters will be made legal (they are not on public roads!) but only people with a provisional or full licence will be able to use them. They have no suspension, so ride illegally on the pavements! Despite self isolating I do have to go out most mornings, and have had four near misses by e scooterists riding on the pavement, one by a child who could not have been more than 8 years old!

      These electric scooters are a menace, they should be classed as a moped, and the rider should be insured, and be licensed with a number plate, and lights! If they are riding illegally on a pavement, then a PCSO will have no chance of stopping them on foot, but if they have a number plate, then there is a better chance of aprehending them! Very nearly every road in Thanet is desperate to be resurfaced, so get it done you KCC Councillors!

  2. Any serious hope of a 20 MPH limit being enforced? Police are totally disinterested in anything that requires getting up from a desk.

    Try Surrey Road as a test zone – plenty of maniac cyclists going wrong way in a one way street with teen idiots on unlicensed and uninsured scooterso going the other way waiting for them. Add high speed electric scooters on road and pavement and the many disability buggies being used by healthy adults to try to get higher benefits and 20 MPH zones sounds peaceful.

    • I am not so sure about the disability scooters being used by healthy people to get higher benefits but there are a high percentage being used illegally with child passengers being taken to and from primary schools.
      Arthur Road and Dalby Square get regularly used as a high speed rat-run from Northdown Road to Ethelbert Crescent and should be made 20 MPH zones, especially with the childrens play area in the park there and without a pavement around the inner border of the square, just parked cars from which children run out from behind to cross the road. This residential area should have been a priority when the recent 20 mph zones were implemented. KCC know this has been a bone of contention brought to them many times over the years but continually refuse to alter the speed limit and make it safer.

      • Be better if the council enforced the parking restrictions on the bowling alley side of dalby square or mademit one way like the other side, its a menace with all the parked cars and obstructions they cause.

  3. Need a roundabout at the junction of Green Lane, Northdown Park Rd, George Hill Rd and Reading Street Rd. Nightmare junction and especially with buses Clogging everything up and dangerous trying to turn right from Green Lane into George Hill Rd as it is semi-blind with traffic coming from the left.

  4. Perhaps more than any other Thanet town or village, St. Peters could desperately do with some sort of bypass. A real shame, as the buildings are as historical and beautiful as the far more peaceful St. Nicholas.

    Agree with others that 20 MPH is fast enough for any residential area, and speed bumps and cameras would help enforcement (I’d start with Sea Road in Westgate!).

    • A by-pass for St. Peter’s is desperately needed but this was discussed back in the 1970s but nothing ever came of it for a number of reasons. One main issue was, and still is,the railway bridge at the end of Northdown Road,St. Peter’s, that can’t take the volume of traffic that would result.

      The Dane Valley Road past the Cabin Café would-be feasible but that was rejected for many reasons,one being the route under the railway bridge on Broadley Road.

      20mph,yes,please but needs enforcement. ‘Twenty’s Plenty’.

      We have 20mph in Reading Street but it isn’t monitored except when gardens walls are damaged,by then it’s a bit late!

      Church Street, St. Peter’s,simply can’t cope with the traffic and so many drivers don’t understand the priority signs there and bulldoze their way through.

      Having this as the main access for so many schools has led to an exponential growth in vehicles, many with driver and one child. It’s a two-way flow with some heading for Callis Grange and St.Peter’s,others to the three secondary schools (including St.George’s Primary).

      • Thanks Jenny. I went through St. Peters again today, and it truly is a nightmare. Something clearly needs to be done, even if it involves the expense of a tunnel.

        • Northdown rd in St. Peter’s joining church st is really bad and dangerous for people walking please do something

  5. Totally agree. 20mph should be the maximum on all town streets. I agree with Paul, Newington Road is terrible and totally discourages kids walking and cycling to school – it should be 20mph.
    Another bug bear is cars parked up on paths, why do people do this? The highway code should change to put the slowest method of travel (walking, cycling) as the highest priority we are obsessed with cars ruling the road. Cyclists should follow the highway code too and appropriate punishment if they misuse the road.
    As a car driver I only use it where I can’t walk, cycle or bus. As with everything, enforcement is the key, but our police forces are too stretched. Should this responsibility be passed to another organisation? If there were less accidents there would be a benefit to both the fire and police services and the NHS.

    • The parking on the paths is a bit of a tricky one.
      I dont own a car. It is illegal in London and some other towns to have one wheel on the pavement.
      But if one needs a car it is also illegal to block access for say a fire engine .
      It will take time to get a 20mph limit if ever on Newington Road .
      What it needs at this time is one police officer with a speed gun, That would raise a lot of money , I got a fine 26 years ago for doing 61 mph through roadworks on the M2 that cost me £60 then and 3 points .

  6. You’re obviously on to a winner here Mike Garner. Keep emphasising consultation so you take the majority of people with you on this. And add residents parking zones for what are obviously residential areas – especially needed in the Thanet towns where so many of the houses were built before the age of the car – and good cheap alternative car parks for visitors including mobile homes and coaches. It’s not so very difficult and many other tourist towns seem to manage it.

  7. 20MPH speed restriction at roads near schools colleges universities along the seafronts & all accident hot spots where 30MPH is now in force should be changed to 20mph

  8. I would love this kind of conversation to be had as to why, Thanet is in the top two of child poverty statistics, our self serving councilors who also have to follow the party line irrespective wether its good or not for Thanet. Should all hang their heads in shame to let thanet, yet again year after year have one if the worst areas for child poverty. We read TDC has spent vast fortunes in paying council workers and officers to keep them from blowing the whistle on bad practice, bad management and bullying in the workplace. Then there’s the fiasco over banning live exports, the councilors at the time made this decision, but it ended costing us the residents of Thanet millions upon millions in compensation while some are still councilor, some have swaned off into the sunset not bearing any responsibility for thier actions. Icould carry on with their utter obnoxious toxic ways, whilst the councilors are ” Lookat me aren’t I good lowering the speed limits” is a joke, children in thanet are hungry, have no heating, all of you mouthpieces stop this ridiculous ” look at me” attitude, get off the podium, until you lot do something to help the poorest and neediest in thanet you should keep quiet.

    • What has road safety got to do with the other things you mention? Lowering the speed limits should have been done years ago. To want it to happen is not a virtue-signalling tactic but common sense.

      Are you the Kapo Kapucinski who supports the idea of having a cargo hub airport in Thanet, by the way?

      • He is making the point regarding past performances of KCC, TDC, and waste of money. Millions in compensation regarding live animal exports being one example. What has his view on cargo hub to do with his point of view. You need to have lived in Thanet for a long period of time to understand what has gone on over the years and the state of the place now. How long have you resided in Thanet?

        • Just wondering if he was one of the people who persuaded the previous council to spend time and money investigating whether a successful airport was feasible at the former Manston Airport site, despite its not having been much used by the public in its earlier incarnations.

          And if it’s all right for someone to ask me how long I’ve lived here, then it’s all right for me to ask Mr. Kapucinski something.

  9. It took ARTRA – Athelstan Road Tenants & Residents’ Association – and KCC Cllr. Barry Lewis 18 months to secure a 20mph zone on Athelstan Road, following the hospitalisation of two primary school aged children in two separate incidents involving being hit by cars – clearly a street by street approach to 20mph zoning is totally impractical, so a Thanet-wide 20mph zone in residential areas is imperative, if Thanet is to become as safe as Faversham & other areas of Kent. Worth noting that ARTRA is seeking community members to be trained by Kent Police Speedwatch in February 2021, to help raise the profile of the new 20mph being enforced – police can prosecute drivers if caught on public utilised radar speed guns on 3 occasions & will visit those caught on radar camera on each occasion.

    Matt Shoul ARTRA Chairperson 2019/2020

    • Surlely the problem lies in the standard of driving of the residents of said road ( who else would use it ( decent wheels would be nicked whilst still moving)) have a look at crashmap for the acident statistics for athelstan road. Plus how many times has there been a check on the speeds on this road. ( though the residents may embrace the opportunity to remove said wheels with less risk).
      Only partially said in jest.

    • Huge difference between “can” and will. I’ll quite happily put my money on “don’t”. As i’ve said before there’s a reason why property in athelstan road is cheap.

  10. So we have the leadermof the politically superfluous ( in thanet) trying to make a name for themselves. As a driver in thanet i’d sugggest that a bylaw against looking at your phone whilst crossing the road would be far more beneficial for pedestrians. Plus walking 50 yds to use one of the multiple pedestrian crossings the isle is blessed with may be be a good idea.

    • What has road safety got to do with the other things you mention? Lowering the speed limits should have been done years ago. To want it to happen is not a virtue-signalling tactic but common sense.

      Are you the Kapo Kapucinski who supports the idea of having a cargo hub airport in Thanet, by the way?

    • Why do you call the Green Party “politically superfluous in Thanet”? The Greens are a proper party and have many supporters. Perhaps your idea of government is a single-party state (but only if it’s the party you vote for).

      • Because they have no political clout and are obsessed with matters such as this when thanet has far wider issues that need dealing with , there’s no need for side shows. The biggest hazards on the roads are thosemon their phones be that drivers or pedestrians, electric scooters, cyclists that ignore every rule of the road ( yes there are plenty of good cyclists too) the appalling efforts by tdc to deal with traffic/parking issues. The westbrook tescos is an accident waiting to happen but nothing is done to deal with the issue, simple addition of no loading “pips” would make the lines enforceable for any vehicle stopping. KCC need to get rid of the 5 year old with the duplo set that did the recent traffic schemes and sack whoever designed the road changes outside the bowling avenue, turning out of dalby square is awful, the recessed parking bay if in use means you can’t see traffic approaching from the right, plus the corner is so sharp you either have to block both lines exiting the junction from dalby square or swing right acroos both lanes on ethelbert terrace. Can’t believe the junction has sufficient visibility splays to be compliant.

        • Pedestrian safety is not a “side show”. The sooner people accept that cars have very few advantages and a huge number of disadvantages, the sooner sanity returns to our roads, and the sooner our polluted air gets cleaned up.

          • It is when far too many pedestrians are so negligent in the way they cross the road, not choosing to use a crossing less than 100 yds away is plain daft, it seems for somemthat putting their phone away for 30 seconds is an impossibilty and for some a push chair is just a replacement for a crossing lollipop. Then you have the electric scooters and kids on bikes for whom any sense of responsible road use is beyond them. The problem in most cases is not the drivers that do obey the speed limit and drive sensibly its those that don’ t and they are not going to slow down even more.

      • I gave up on party politics years ago! Now I just support those that I feel come up with sensible ideas, and this is one of them.

  11. It’s crucial that we get away from our obsession with the private motor car.
    Our streets are just not big enough to cope. Short of knocking down large parts of Thanet to make bigger, wider roads, by-passes and car parks, there’s not much to be done.
    In my street, just about every house has at least two cars. Some have a work’s van, too. It’s a terraced street, so each house has enough space for one car. Where do the others go? Knock down every alternate house to make a carpark?
    One glimmer of hope is e-scooters. If you just want to nip to the shop for some basics, or journey to the station as part of your commute, then a (properly licenced etc) scooter could see the need for cars reduced.
    And soon we will be blessed (!!) with autonomous vehicles. Well, how about this:
    Given that most car journeys are under 2 miles, and most cars spend about 23 hours a day doing nothing, have fleets of Über style autonomously taxis. You want to go somewhere, you click a button on your phone. A cab rolls up, you type in the post code of your destination, and Bob’s your uncle.
    And finally, public transport needs to be improved and supported, so it becomes the mode of first, rather than last, choice.
    Our streets would be quieter and calmer, we would be healthier and wealthier (you do know how much your personal bit of street furniture is costing you each year?). Each of us would personally benefit Thanet would benefit, and so would the Planet.
    What’s to lose?

    • Nothing wrong with any of that for those that choose to use such services. However for many there are practical issues plus the matter of personal choice.

    • Can’t carry much shopping on an E-scooter. Better off walking with a few bags or at least cycling with panniers.

    • This is a reply to”The Box”. When I hear or read people talking or writing about cars, it seems to me that most of them are in fact so hooked on their private metal box that they can only justify it, and see nothing wrong with using it.

    • Cyclists shouldn’t cycle in the kerb anyway. The Highway Code recommends the middle of the lane, despite what many motorists think!

      • Quite right!
        It’s counter intuitive, but the reasoning is that if a cyclist keeps well to the left, following cars will try to overtake when it’s not safe; for example, there’s a vehicle coming the other way. And what does a driver do in those circumstances? Pulls to the left. Just where the cyclist is!
        If the cyclist “takes the lane” then he will a) be in the direct line of sight of the driver and b) blocking a dangerous manoeuvre.
        Obviously, when it’s safe, the cyclist should pull over and let faster vehicles pass. But *only* when it’s safe.

    • Derek. The gutters in many parts of Thanet are choking with weeds. KCC spray them, they die and are left there to rot and either are washed down the drains causing in time blocked drains or form the compost for more weed growth next year! You might as well talk to a brick wall with most Councillors. I litter pick my road up to three a times a week and where I can will try and clear the gutters. I’m afraid in Thanet if you want anything doing on issues like this you have to do it yourself.

  12. Thanks to everyone for reading my article and commenting on it. There are a lot of positive ideas I’ll take up. I think it’s important that the roads are made safer and easier to use for everyone including cyclists, pedestrians and car drivers and as many people as possible need to be consulted on what’s best for their community. I’ll keep you posted…..

    • Mike I hope you will also consider one of the most hardworking groups of Council workers. The binmen much maligned but having to constantly battle against dodgy car parking etc and on occasions rude residents who take this service for granted.

  13. There is problems with your plan, yes 20 miles an hour are good in the right place, but as for trying to get us to reduce car journeys etc, You have to remember some people have a disability or have had injuries that restrict how far they can walk. or cycle. not all people with injury or disability get a blue badge.

    And now you got the planning department letting House Builders build on Grade A1 agricultural land at the back of Birchington/Westgate/ Garlinge The roads will not cope, And as we are coming out of the EU don’t you think feeding the nation, might be a bit more important than building on that land?

    • “You have to remember some people have a disability or have had injuries that restrict how far they can walk. or cycle”
      I am aware of that.
      But by far the large majority of people are well able to walk, cycle or use the bus (you can get reasonable sized mobility scooters on the bus, btw).
      So either we do something to curb use of private motor cars, or we turn our towns and countryside into motorways and car parks.

  14. So why support a local plan which doesn’t really resolve the transport issues here. It’s only going to get worse, so well done to the greens in voting for it.

  15. As well as 20mph speed limits in residential areas (they have them in Canterbury) theyneed to be enforced. We desperately need a speed bump or crossing at the Chapel Place/Chatham Street/Hight street junction in Ramsgate where cars speed and the very narrow pavements are full of school children travelling from one site to another. I have tried and tried with this but am told there are not enough deaths.

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