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.

Mark Russell
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 3:22 pm
No road is dangerous. Just like smart motorways are no more dangerous than old style motorways. Over 97% of collisions in the uk involve human error. If people drive to the conditions and use appropriate speed but more importantly follow the Highway Code, there would be no collisions anywhere.

Unfortunately humans make mistakes, drive like idiots, and drive outside the capabilities of their vehicle.

We are currently killing 1700 people a year in the uk on our roads. Does that fact stop anybody driving? No it does not. But what it does prove is we are improving as 10 years ago we were killing over 3500 people per year.

The cat and fiddle is regularly named “Britain’s most dangerous road” well I’ve gone up there on a bike and driven, it’s never killed me! That’s because I drive to the conditions.

These accidents just show the total lack of continued education for drivers in the uk. Professional drivers have to take one day a year training. Whereas a normal driver passes their test at 17 and then never reads the Highway Code in the next 60 years. Total lack of re training is the problem.

Ultimately the only way to stop deaths on the roads are automated vehicles, but being realistic they are over 20 years away yet.

Added to this We should look at what Cheshire east spend their money on. For example £1,000,000 for a cycle path is obscene. They will hide behind 900k came from elsewhere. Well that 900k still comes from our pockets, the tax payer. The roads around here are falling apart, but they spend £1,000,000 on a cycle path which won’t even be used for over 6 months of the year due to winter weather etc.

I am always trying to call our councillors to account, this is just another episode in a lot of poor episodes. We can’t blame the council for drivers that don’t follow the rules. But we can and should hold them to account for the state of the roads, whether it’s contracted out or not, it’s their job to spend our money wisely.
Derek Ferguson
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 4:24 pm
Indeed, roads themselves aren't dangerous but poor road design can make them more susceptible to accidents. The Alderley Edge bypass is an example. It could have been designed with long straights for safe overtaking or better still as a dual carriageway but instead it's an almost continuous curve with dips leading to poor onward visibility. I agree that drivers need to drive to the conditions but similarly when conditions are good, drivers need to make decent progress and not hold up those that want drive at 60mph. That way frustration and misjudged overtaking manoeuvres may not need to happen.
Sadly the typical reaction of the council is to reduce the speed limit. I would suggest that this would make the overtaking problem even worse. The short term solution is either double white lines and overtaking prohibited for its entire length or average speed cameras. It should have been a dual carriageway from the start.
Jon Armstrong
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 5:10 pm
It is sad that people have died on this road, but every time this comes up I have never seen anything close to explaining what it is inherently about the road itself that is alleged to the be problem. The only thing that seems to come up is that it should have been a dual carriageway, but there are many many single carriageway roads that are national speed limit - including many nearby - that function safely. There is nothing inherently dangerous about a single carriageway.

It is a road that is largely straight with long gentle curves that do not require any sharp turns, heavy breaking or going up and down the gears. Visibility is good. The oncoming roundabouts are well signposted so drivers know they are coming. The lanes are not narrow. Cyclists have their own parallel path off the road and do not impact the flow of traffic or cause anyone to move out unexpectedly. This is not a twisty-turny country road that is challenging to drive by any means.

What is it you want done immediately that would stop the accidents? As far as I remember, one was caused by someone driving too fast in poor conditions, one caused by unsafe overtaking and the one with the elderly couple was unexplained why he suddenly veered out of his lane.

I would also challenge the statement about most of them being when it was dark. Of the 7 incidents listed, I think it is 4 would have been in the dark and 3 in the light, so that is not conclusive. Of the 3 fatal ones, 2 of them were in daylight.

It is interesting to compare other roads. The government website https://www.think.gov.uk/thinkmap/ maps accident data over the years 2013 to 2018. You can apply many filters such as whether it was serious or fatal, what time of day it was, the ages of the people involved, etc, etc. Yes, there have been three fatal accidents on the Alderley bypass in that time, which are undoubtedly tragic, but there are many other areas with a noticeably higher concentration of accidents categorised as severe, including Wilmslow Road through Handforth and the A538 to the M56.
Vince Chadwick
Tuesday 2nd February 2021 at 8:36 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.
Russell Young
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 9:07 am
The only thing dangerous along that stretch of road are the bad drivers. Keep to the speed limit and don't overtake. it's simple, but obviously not simple enough to many. It's only a 5 - 6 min section. They live (and also unfortunately, drive, amongst us).
Roger Thawley
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 2:29 pm
This is a major commuter route, which was always conceived as a dual-carriageway, had it been as originally conceived this would be less an issue.
Bob Bracegirdle
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 3:15 pm
It has always seemed to me that the road has the "feeling" of being a dual carriageway as it is fairly new and sweeping in nature. It follows on from the Manchester direction a long dual carriageway road too. Thus maybe drivers are lulled into thinking it actually is dual carriageway in their driving habits and panic when they suddenly realise it is not so and there is something coming towards them as they overtake a slower vehicle.

I drive along there at 55 -60mph when safe - and am regularly overtaken by people clearly exceeding 70.
Simon Worthington
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 3:47 pm
Civil engineer today Vince?
Planned as a dual carriageway. Money saved. Roughly one accident per year on a (normally) very busy road. Having read the circumstances of some of these serious driver error is involved and that unfortunately is a fact of life much like moving infected people from hospitals into care homes and results in death.
Dave Hopper
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 3:54 pm
Couldn't agree more with the readers comments - whoever decided to build an extension of a dual carriageway by creating a single lane + cycle lane got this completely wrong. It should have just been a continuation of a dual carriageway. I regularly use this route and am always dumfounded to come across cycle clubs who are riding 2 abreast on the road, and not on the cycle path. Money could have been far better spent on repairing the numerous pot holes still evident on Wilmslow's roads!
Jerry Dixon
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 4:34 pm
This road was planned and designed as it was built. Previous proposed schemes, going back many years, involved a dual carriageway but they never materialised. There was simply no sound case, or a budget, for a dual carriageway.
The sweeping bends are the result of the need to avoid two "immovable obstacles" namely the golf course and the tomato farm.
I'm frankly alarmed when people say that it "looks like a dual carriageway". These tragic accidents must be down to serious driver error.
Mark Goldsmith
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 4:41 pm
Just to add to this debate:

- The £900,000 received from the Cheshire and Warrington Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) is for our cycle lanes can only be spent on cycle lanes. Unfortunately, they won't give us a penny of it to repair roads.

- This part of the A34 is not in Wilmslow, so the responsibility for it comes under Cllr Craig Browne, Alderley Edge. He has left the following response to David's same letter on the AlderleyEdge.com site:

"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"


I hope this helps explain what additional measures are now being considered.

Cllr Mark Goldsmith
Residents of Wilmslow
Wilmslow West & Corley
Fred Rayers
Wednesday 3rd February 2021 at 4:56 pm
The death rate on uk roads is around 5 per billion miles travelled. At 3 miles long and with around 25,000 vehicles per day, 365 days a year it would be reasonable to expect a death every 7 years or so.

At probably more than 1 a year (over a number of years, so not just a statistical blib), less than impressive for a newly designed road.
Mark Russell
Thursday 4th February 2021 at 4:46 pm
Fred, that “stat” is totally useless. You can’t compare motorways with bypasses with a roads with residential roads. I live down a dead end, I bet no one has ever been killed by a car down here. Does that make it the safest road in the world? Or is it low speeds and no through traffic?
Fred Rayers
Thursday 4th February 2021 at 6:17 pm
Mark, or is it just a short road with very little traffic and if you do the same calculation you get a few 1000 years between deaths?

Surely newly designed through roads should be safer than average - this one clearly is not.
Diane Holcroft
Friday 5th February 2021 at 1:22 am
Great comments and a very good letter with accident stats by David Carey.
The darkness might be a big factor here.
Better signage (flashing warning lights) greatly reduced speed limit with more visible night time signage might help on this stretch of potentially hazardous road if not paying 100% attention.
Humans are humans, we try but can't always be perfect.
This stretch of road changes quickly and doesn't seem to have appropriate warnings when we may need more time to register the sudden change (in the darkness.)
Much like when an animal runs across the road at night, our reaction time isn't always the best when it's dark.
Martin Anderson
Friday 5th February 2021 at 7:15 am
There is an Freedom of information report : Information Request Road -773181 Road restraint risk assessment for A34 pre 2002 , on the Cheshire East Disclosure Log , would make interesting reading if it existed and was found!

Cheshire East Disclosure Log
Received between
06/02/2019
to
05/02/2021
Keyword
a34
Received Details Status
25/02/2020 11:53
Road restraint risk assessment for A34 pre 2002 Ref. 7731181
Response (information exempt)
No information sent - all held but exempt
30/01/2020 06:39
Road Restraint Risk Assessment for A34 Alderley Edge bypass Ref. 7415021
Response (all information to be supplied)
All information sent
29/01/2020 17:26
How many section 28 have been received from coroners with regard to the A34 Alderley Edge bypass Ref. 7414490
Internal review response
Response (all information to be supplied)
Internal review - Not upheld
Richard Minton
Sunday 14th February 2021 at 3:30 pm
I know this is a bit late in the day, however, quick synopsis of the accidents most likely causes , inattention or impatience. [there are few places to overtake unless you have a 911 or similar ],So thinking outside the box for a minute.
Have a Minimum speed limit of say 50mph and a if we must, a no overtaking end to end.

So if you don't want to do 50 go through AE village and past Nether Alderley mill
and if you want to make some "progress " go down the bypass

After all its not the road thats dangerous but the users,
like the fool cyclist yesterday in the main carriageway, [Darwin award iminent]

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