The Sunday Telegraph reports the ‘misery’ that speed humps are causing in Chingford

Yesterday, the Sunday Telegraph published a long story about the Chingford speed hump saga, which is archived here:

Amongst the many striking observations included are the following:

‘Shanta Prasad was born in her home on Chingford’s Old Church Road in 1964 and has lived there ever since.

In all of those 59 years, she has never had any trouble sleeping – until last year, when London Borough of Waltham Forest installed a speed bump outside her house.

“As soon as they were installed, our houses started to shake, it’s a busy arterial road, and when you get buses and lorries, it’s like Formula One,” she said.

“I can’t sleep at night. I’ve been referred to the insomnia clinic. Sometimes all I want to do is cry.”

The speed bump was one of seven installed on her street, which is under a mile long. Dozens of others have popped up around the borough in recent years as part of the council’s plan to reduce speed across the borough to 20mph.

They were put there to reduce accidents, something the council says has been achieved, but for many residents, they have made their lives a misery. 

….So significant has the issue become with residents that Sir Iain Duncan Smith, the MP for Chingford, raised it in Parliament on Tuesday.

He spoke of the suffering of several of his constituents, including Adam Thackeray, whose house has started developing cracks thanks to vibrations from a newly-installed speed bump.

Lorries and other heavy vehicles can cause movements along a road surface similar to waves that result in vibrations in nearby houses.

Another, Tony Thorne, avoids certain roads because of the pain his arthritic wife suffers when driving over speed bumps.

The Telegraph travelled to Chingford to see how bad the situation is.

Picked up from Chingford station by local residents Trevor Calver, 76, and James Conway, 64, we quickly hit the first speed bump 20 seconds down Station Road, one of the main roads through the town, on the Essex and east London border.

Our car wasn’t going quickly, about 17mph on the 20mph road, but on some stretches we drove over five bumps in the space of a minute.

Some clusters were near schools, but the logic behind the placement of others was less clear.

“See like here, there are not even any homes around here,” Mr Calver said as we hit several bumps along a tree-lined street.

Throughout the drive, Mr Calver pointed out particularly confusing placements, including a roundabout near Mansfield Park where there are bumps just metres away from roundabout junctions where you would usually have to slow down anyway.

So steep was one bump, the impact jolting my body up and down so strongly, that my notes became unintelligible. According to highways regulations, the safety features should be no less than 25mm in height and no more than 100mm. The AA has said a 100mm high bump would mean cars have to drive at 5mph to navigate it without damage.

Mr Conway, who recently set up a residents’ association to help challenge local issues such as speed bumps, said there didn’t seem to be any science behind their location.

“What started out as a good idea has gone berserk, and the council hasn’t listened to residents,” he said.

He added that while he understood the need to reduce speed, he suggested cameras might be a better way of policing it…

We stopped at the house of Stuart Grix, 66, who has lived on Endlebury Road for more than 30 years. Seven of these have been with a speed bump outside his house.

Inside the front room and upstairs, his partner Bridget Lay, 57, pointed out long cracks that stretch across the ceilings and walls on the side of the house where the bump is.

“We never had these before [the bumps] were installed in 2016,” explained Ms Lay. “When the buses come, you feel it.” The road is served by the 97 bus which comes past every six to nine minutes during the day, and starts at 4.46am. The 26 night bus also uses the road.

The couple has become so concerned about the cracks, they have recruited a structural engineer to look at the property.

Stephen Field, 59, who is a member of the local community traffic watch, suggested that the impact on homes in Chingford was particularly bad because of the way many properties were built.

“Many of the houses in Chingford were built in the 1930s on shallow foundations, not more than six inches on clay soil, and I think this could make it worse,” he said.

…Residents have attempted to fight back, with a group of around 50 meeting Sir Iain in May to raise their concerns.

They were able to get Conservative councillors to demand that the Labour-led council carry out an independent review looking into the impact bumps were having on nearby properties.

This was rejected. Clyde Loakes, the council’s deputy leader, said bumps were the “only option” to slow down vehicles and make neighbourhoods safe for all.

Simon Williams, the RAC’s head of policy, said that while bumps do work to slow drivers, there were alternatives.

“While average speeds tend to reduce when a road switches from 30mph to 20mph regardless of enforcement, the aim is to get drivers to stick to the limit which is why speed humps are often used to force traffic to slow down,” he said.

“But if these humps are having very negative unintended consequences for residents, and indeed other road users, then new thinking must surely be required to ensure speed limit compliance.”

…Cllr Loakes said: “A study by the Department for Transport found that reducing speed limits from 30mph to 20mph in residential areas could reduce the number of road deaths by up to 40 per cent. It’s regrettable that the Government ruled out boroughs’ use of speed cameras in 2022, as this would have been an alternative measure.”

He added: “Multiple studies have found traffic vibration and road humps are unlikely to cause significant damage to buildings. We know for sure that vehicles travelling at speed do cause significant damage to people. And we also know the measures are working – the number of people killed and seriously injured on the borough’s roads has fallen from 97 in 2018 to 70 in 2022.”

For Ms Prashad, she would love the council to intervene for the sake of her home, which is developing cracks, her sleep, which is severely impaired, and her mental health, which is under strain.

She said: “The anxiety, the emotional and physical strain, my whole psyche is up the wall, I’ve never been in a situation like this but this has thrown me completely.”

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1 Comment

  1. emsal mulla - March 11, 2024, 4:18 pm

    yes as I am writing this busses passing so fast the building shakes and I am getting tired of trying to get my voice heard, I feel the same way as Ms Prashad is
    feeling, anxiety, emotional and physical strain.
    every time thinking oh my god one day the building is going to collapse.

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