Why have you let our residential street become a rat-run?

Families claim a Derby council road “improvement” scheme has funnelled hundreds of extra cars past their homes.

Some say that their lives have been made a living hell by the constant stream of traffic, while others say that the stress has led them to having mental health issues.

Residents say busy drivers are “encouraged” to take a rat run up their street, but only end up jammed in and “shouting” at each other.

An action group formed to campaign for changes is based in Eastwood Drive and adjoining North Street, Littleover.

They say Manor Road motorists trying to avoid rush hour jams at its junction with Burton Road are using Eastwood Drive as a short cut. This allows them get through to Burton Road without going through traffic lights.

Ward councillors for the area have confirmed that they will be providing a temporary solution to this issue “soon” and residents should expect to see changes within months.

Campaigners say the issue has been made worse since the council put in a right-turn filter lane from Manor Road into Eastwood Drive.

This stops queuing cars blocking Manor Road but, residents say, encourages drivers to use the rat run.

A recent council study detected 11,000 cars using Eastwood Road/North Street each week. Campaigners estimate this is an extra 1,500 a week since the filter lane was put in.

Families have formed the “North Eastward Road Safety Campaign” after claiming their complaints to councillors fell on deaf ears.

Lucy Care, Littleover’s Ward Counciller, replied to this by saying that they have listened.

They haven’t been ignored, we have done surveys, reported back what’s happening to them and we have continued to work with the officers on this issue. It doesn’t mean that local residents are included in these meetings because officers broadly haven’t felt comfortable for them to be there.”

James Mathers, a resident on Eastwood Drive, said 85% of people who signed a local petition backed the stopping up of Eastwood Drive/North Street to through traffic.

CONTRIBUTED IMAGE - (North Eastwood Campaign)
A map showing the cut-through and how traffic have being using Eastern Drive and North Street to avoid the traffic lights.
A map showing the cut-through and how traffic has being using Eastern Drive and North Street to avoid the traffic lights

Mr Mathers has lived on Eastwood Drive since 1964 and has seen traffic increase since the Burton Road/Manor Road traffic lights were put in during the 1970s. Before then there was a roundabout.

The campaign conducted the survey along North Street and Eastwood Drive, before the Council conducted its own which found that 57.7% of people in the area were in favour of closing the road.

Bal Mahal, another Eastwood Drive resident, said: “They went into the side streets where the problem wasn’t, maybe to dilute it.

Every other road has been closed off to stop traffic, Manor Road, Warwick Avenue, Burton Road have had their bypass roads blocked off. We never did.

Traffic on North Street has been more congested since 2019
(Image: North Eastwood Campaign)

The most important change was the improvement of a right turn from the A511 Manor Road onto Eastwood Drive, which was done for safety reasons by Derby City Council in 2019.

The result has been yet more cars for the residents to deal with as the turn is now easier for motorists.

In official monitoring conducted by Derby City Council it was found that over 11,000 cars were using the cut-through every week, with a staggering 85% ignoring the 20 mph speed limit put in during 2018 to help slow traffic.

The 11,000 cars per week has increased from roughly 9,000 per week before the right hand turn was improved, according to Mr Mahal, although he noted that the road has been busy for decades and that it is now at its peak.

“When the council told us it was about 1500 to 1800 cars a day, we were shocked.

“It’s been growing over the last decade, but opening up that right hand turn has almost legitimised it.

“We’ve got evidence of 3.5 tonne-plus vehicles are using the route, it’s just an absolute race track, if we didn’t do anything they’d just ignore it,” says Mr Mahal. “Somebody will get killed at some point.”

Councillor Care agrees with Mr Mahal saying: “we were really concerned about that because it would encourage people to use what had been a really small gap and low and behold once it was completed the number of people using that gap has increased significantly and Google now directs people through that gap.”

But it is not just safety concerns that worry Mr Mahal and the other members of the North Eastwood Campaign, it’s the mental stress the cars are putting on residents, the majority of whom are retired, according to Mr Mahal.

The people living on the road are suffering. Every night I come home I get aggression from someone tailgating me. I need to slow down to get on my drive and people try and undertake me, overtake me, it’s a regular thing.

“Your heart’s in your mouth because it’s a busy road. Sometimes they stop, swear, beep their horns, no matter what time of day it is and a lot of residents are living in that fear and have gone over the edge in anxiety.”

Vans and lorries have been using the road as a cut-through, according to residents
(Image: North Eastwood Campaign)

Another resident, who has asked to remain anonymous, agrees with Mr Mahal.

“It’s just taken over my life, mentally it’s doing me in. I live on the bend and there is a constant stream of cars.

“They all start hooting and shouting at each other outside my house.

“I’ve lived here for 40 years and it was a quiet residential street and now there is a constant flow of traffic, but I’ve tried going to the council and they just fob you off.

They added: “It’s not ruining their lives like it is ours, I’ve just had enough.”

The residents approached Derby City Council directly with their concerns during a Council Meeting on Wednesday January 20.

Their question, ‘is it DerbyCity Council Policy to enhance the movement of through traffic from Major A Class Roads (A5111 and A5250) via the residential streets (North Streetand Eastwood Drive)?” was answered by Deputy Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Transportation. Councillor Matthew Holmes.

Councillor Holmes said: “It is self-explanatory that major roads are most appropriate for high volumes of traffic. There is, therefore, no policy or technical strategy to divert traffic into residential streets and away from major roads.”

He then stated that the right turn filter lane, which in the eyes of residents has led to an increase of traffic, was introduced for safety reasons and could not be undone.

Motorists attempting to rejoin the main road after leaving North Street
(Image: North Eastwood Campaign)

He added: “I am aware that council officers have been monitoring the location and have been working with residents and local councillors. This has included a further consultation exercise, which unfortunately has not resulted in a conclusive locally-agreed solution.

The options are very limited but include changes to Eastwood Avenue with consideration to additional restrictions, or ultimately closing the central reservation with the resulting reduction in access for residents. Any of the options for further measures will require formal consultation to comply with the legal process.”

Mr Mahal, speaking for the North Eastwood Campaign, followed up by asking: “Does the City Councillor accept responsibility for creating the through traffic problem of over 11,000 vehicles per week in residential streets in Littleover?”

Councillor Holmes replied: “I am very willing to have further discussions about this and to receive correspondence which I’ve already received.

“I will discuss this further in my role as Strategic Transport Lead member and obviously try and liaise with officers and the councillors involved in terms of the neighbourhood work they’re doing. So what I’d say in response to that is that further discussion is required and I am happy to have that.”

Both Mr Mahal and Mr Mathers felt that the response was not satisfactory, with Mr Mahal saying: “The question was not answered by Councillor Holmes.

“If there was a common sense answer they could give it to us, they would, but we’ve shown them the maps that the A-roads are connected and they’ve never denied. They’ve just brushed us aside.”

The council did not wish to provide further comment and is still discussing the fate of North Street and Eastwood Drive.

Councillor Care, however, has said that there are plans in place to ensure that the residents will not continue to suffer.

She said: “A number of options will be trialled on the road with barriers and signage over the next six months, and as long as people are happy with that option then it will become permanent in 2022/23.”

“The last conversation I had with the officers a fortnight ago was how to take this forwards with barriers and signs and all the technical bits.

This is affecting four relatively small streets, so it’s probably about 150-200 households who will be affected out of 6,000 households across the ward and they will be having one of our two highway priorities this year and in 2022/23 for the whole ward assuming we can find a solution that works.

They’re a very small part of the ward, but their problem is a key problem and it’s why the highway engineers are working on it because we’ve made it a priority.

“There is an enormous amount of bureaucracy in the council and the high way regulation works, so it can seem to take a very long time so I can appreciate their frustration at how long it has taken, but it frustrates us as well sometimes.”

She added that the change to the central reservation may have saved lives, but at the risk of ruining the lives of those on Eastwood Drive and North Street.

“It may have cut down the number of injuries, which is really significant. My mother was killed at that junction so I understand about road death, but it’s quality of life that matters, not just extent of life, and quality of life has really been impacted by the changes that were made.”

Courtesy of Derbyshire Live – Derby News