Your solutions to Lyme’s traffic chaos

IT’S been debated in the council chamber for years on end but no real solution has ever been found to Lyme Regis’ increasing traffic congestion problems.

A recent traffic survey was commissioned by Lyme Regis Town Council for £25,000, but its results were widely regarded as having provided no new information or solutions, and did not include any public consultation.

So we turned to our readers and asked for your suggestions on how the town’s traffic chaos could be alleviated.

I AM very pleased to see that you encouraging people to consider possible solutions to the Lyme traffic problem. Your timing is opportune as the problem grows every year and the proposed new pelican crossing is only going to make matters worse.

It appears that every time a solution is proposed, it is shot down in flames because it will create traffic hold ups – it’s absurd: the traffic hold ups are already evident and if the council are not careful there will be an accident that will prompt the health and safety executive to impose a less than optimal solution on the town.

Solutions have been presented historically and we should recognise that there is not going to be a magical solution that suddenly appears.

It’s a great shame that the funds wasted on the recent traffic report were not used to outline each of the potential solutions and to identify any possible legal or highways impediments so that the solutions can be narrowed. Perhaps such a report could be commissioned once you have canvassed the views of your readers.

Personally, I think steps can be taken to limit the heavy traffic in town but ultimately there needs to be either a one-way or extended traffic light system.

I suspect the one-way system will be dogged by the introduction of heavy traffic flows on narrow residential lanes.

This just leaves the extended traffic light system and clearly this is limited by the number of access roads on to the road covered by the traffic lights. Logically the upper lights should be extended to just above the old London Inn so that traffic can queue up the main road out of town instead of in the narrow roads leading down to the council offices.

If the lights are placed there, the following access roads need to be considered: Coombe Street, Monmouth Street, Pooles Court and Long Entry.

I suggest that Coombe and Monmouth Street are made one way with no access on to the road covered by the traffic lights. Long Entry and Pooles Court are sufficiently close to the lights at either end that they must be able to be controlled from those lights.

I do hope that someone on the council takes ownership of this issue before another regulator does so.

Tim Dean
(by email)

FIRST, it has to be said we are lucky to have the problem; most towns would just love so many visitors arriving and the resultant thriving businesses.

In truth too, as Philip Evans must know well from his time in London, it is a problem now and then and nothing like a big city traffic chaos that is there 24 hours a day.

Broad Street Parking – Let’s start with Broad Street and the “chaos” that will ensue if, God help us, pensioners are allowed to cross Broad Street safely. The most ridiculous thing I ever heard was that some are worried the crossing will spoil the view for photographers when it is snowing once in ten years. What about the potential loss of trade, a more important issue?

At present there are 17 spaces where parking is permitted for one hour and one disabled space. That means in a day, if each space is full, perhaps 130 cars can park during a day. In addition, up to another six cars parking illegally outside the Tesco area for a few minutes, and we all know this works just fine!

Moving the bus stop back up the hill will help but how long does it take to shop locally? As seen above most do it in five or ten minutes.

If the legal parking was reduced to 30 minutes there would be 190 spaces each day even after the five have been lost. It is not unusual in towns to limit parking to fifteen minutes so the current 130 cars would become 380 at a stroke.

Traffic Chaos – To be honest I am amazed how well the problems at the bottom of town cope. The traffic lights respond so quickly to let traffic start to pass in turn.

As your picture shows two buses can pass on occasion albeit with the judicial use of the pavement. Why everyone uses half empty double deck buses I have no idea but we do need public transport through the town.

In peak summer the main issue is cars ignoring the road signs and road markings as they think they must push on through, when a little patience would often solve the problem.

Technology could help here. A camera at the ‘Give way’ sign by the London Inn could show traffic approaching hidden from view and flash a sign saying “give way to on coming vehicles” when they were in view of the camera.

Then, opposite the Chinese, another sign could flash on to say “Stop” to prevent vehicles entering the yellow boxes when the road down to the lights is full and the lights are on red.

The stop sign would only go off when the oncoming  vehicles had cleared that point and the traffic lights by that time had turned to green.

W.A. Lewis,
Broad Street

P.S. Many a town has been ruined by one-way streets it is just not the solution.

I READ your article in this week’s newspaper with interest. Here are my suggestions.

  • Put in place a meaningful park and ride that uses appropriate small single deck buses. This has to be done on the east and west of the town. And fund it properly with frequent services at low fares. The service on the west side of the town must be reinstated.
  • Prohibit through traffic except buses and taxis. Number plate recognition to be used to catch offenders. And place signage to this effect well before Lyme.
  • Make Cobb Gate car park disabled only.
  • Ban all parking in Broad Street.
  • Ban coaches in town centre. Make them drop off at Holmbush or Charmouth Road car parks.

David Green,
View Road, Lyme Regis

FORWARD thinking radical change.

Simply pedestrianise it from Anning Road junction all the way to the cinema, or even further up to Cobb Road.

Close the car park near the sea and turn the one with the clock into a turning place for delivery vehicles and the car park opposite into a pump track to actually add some interest for younger people.

People will start using bikes more. Add a cycle lane along the seafront too. Add hire e-bikes like in London for people to get around on.

Folk will adapt and companies will modify how they deliver.

Spend less money on gardening and more on modern infrastructure. Send the council on a trip to Copenhagen/London/Brighton and have a research trip looking at forward thinking and cultural diversity.

Buses can enter and exit the valley in the same road. Or if it’s a bus/cycle lane only, less traffic. No need to pass through the town. Many Cornish villages don’t allow traffic too close.

Richard Tilley
(by email)

YOU asked for solutions to the congestion in Lyme and I offer a few options as, like most residents, I am appalled at the traffic chaos and have been for 30 years since we first came here.

We thought it was bad then but we have only seen matters get progressively worse in the ensuing years to the state that it is now positively dangerous for both drivers and pedestrians alike.

There are solutions if only the powers that be would take definitive action and stop wasting money on surveys, which only told us what we already knew.

One way system – Buses and coaches navigating Woodmead Road and Anning Road would be a disaster waiting to happen.  The only possibility of a one way system working would be to extend the boundaries to Haye Lane and Colway Lane but would not be necessary if the following solutions were put into practice.

Move the traffic lights – This should at least be tried as a matter of urgency. The argument is that the distance between the lights and adjoining roads would cause unacceptable tailbacks but I am convinced that with my other suggestions, any additional waiting time would be minimal and offset by the fact that once through the lights you would at least be able to get through Church Street without the constant fear of having to mount the pavement, reverse, fold the wing mirrors and pray.

Pedestrians would also be safe and  able to walk without fear of being  run over and drivers would not be faced with expensive bills to repair tyres and tracking from bumping up pavements.

Filter lights could be in operation for exiting Pooles Court and Monmouth Street a one way.

Coach parties – All coaches should be banned from entering Lyme at all times.  Coaches should park at Charmouth Road car park and/or park and ride and Holmbush car park, and a park and ride bus ferry passengers into Lyme.  An additional small charge for passengers booking their coach trips would cover the coach operators costs and make it a viable proposition for the park and ride operators.

Obviously a time table would need to  be agreed to suit the seasons to ensure its profitability, and day trippers in private vehicles could also pay a small fee to use this service, thus relieving the town car parks.

Public transport – If coaches were banned from the town and the traffic lights moved there would be no problem with public transport.

Delivery vans – The restrictions should be enforced so all large delivery vans are out of the town by 10am.  If they are aware they will not be able to enter Lyme after that time they will make sure they are in and out within the limitations.

Parking in Broad Street – The single most congestion-causing factor is those cars and vans who persistently think parking between the bollards and half on the pavement is acceptable for “just a few minutes”.

Last week whilst driving through Lyme I encountered  two cars and a van parked between the Three Cups and Volunteer making it effectively one way traffic for the bulk of Broad Street.

Once the pedestrian crossing is in operation reducing the parking even more, the situation can only get worse unless the rules are enforced and no traffic is allowed to stop along that side of the road. The penalties should reflect this.

All vehicles should also be banned for parking outside Quality Corner and by the bus stop at Cobb Gate, another area of congestion.  We have restrictions but they are currently simply not enforced, a factor of which locals are fully aware.

Better signage – This is a total no-brainer.  There should be signs on all main routes into Lyme making it clear that all vehicles over 7.5 tons will not be permitted to drive through the town.

It may be regarded as severe to bring about all these measures but coach companies and private day trippers will quickly find that it is a pleasure to come to Lyme and be able to move comfortably and not experience such nightmares.

Towns such as Polperro have a total traffic ban and the visitors just keep coming.  They know they can park at the top of the hill and can get  local transport to take them to the harbour and surely coach drivers would welcome the relief from the hazards they currently face.

Margaret McLaren
(by email)

THIS is a copy of an email I sent to the town clerk probably over a year ago, never cot a reply of course!

Having lived in Lyme practically all my life (over 60 years) the traffic problem in Church Street/Bridge Street has been ongoing for all this time and nothing has been done about it.

There is a simple solution, although it would take time to organise and for people to adjust, but something like this could be considered:

Buses avoid Lyme by going straight along A35 to/from Axminster. The local bus can be timed to pick up/drop off passengers at an appropriate place at Charmouth roundabout and also at Hunters Lodge.

All large lorries are banned from using Church Street, and will have to come via Uplyme and return the same way to A35. How many of these large vehicles actually need to go right through Lyme?

The local bus would also be put to far better use (it regularly drives around Lyme empty) and provide possible employment for another driver (it may be necessary to have another local bus).

In high summer coaches cause big problems in the town centre, especially when there are two parked in the Square – why are coaches not banned from the town centre and made to drop people off at Charmouth Road or Holmbush car parks? Plenty of room for them to turn, and it would do the passengers good to have a walk after a bus journey.

Again the local bus can be used to ferry people to the town, and the park and ride bus could call into the car parks to pick up passengers from the coaches and take them to the Cobb.

Yes, it looks complicated, but I believe it would work. Things will have to change if we want to avoid endless traffic jams in Broad Street through the summer and it will inconvenience some for a while, but we did get used to not having a train service!

Judith Biscoe
(by email)

I HAVE been driving around Lyme Regis for 50 years. I lived in View Road for 30 years until 2012, so am familiar with traffic in Silver Street and Coombe Street areas.

For the last seven years I have lived in Fairfield Park and use the Charmouth Road and Church Street sometimes two or three times a day. We operated a fish shop under the Guildhall for a few years and even had a coach crash into the shop.

Once you get a holdup in Lyme, traffic backs up to such a degree that no one can move. Unfortunately the layout of the town means a one-way system is not feasible but the bus route via Pound Road seems to work well.

We have to accept that we need delivery vehicles and buses. Unfortunately they are getting bigger and causing more congestion.

Perhaps the suppliers and shop owners should be contacted and asked to park more sensibly. Even a few meters away would help keep traffic flowing. Shop staff could help unload as at Tesco and I expect most lorries carry sack trucks or trollies.

Coaches are getting bigger and come to Lyme more frequently. Unfortunately we lost the coach park at Cloverdale so now they all unload in town. Perhaps they should be contacted. Do we even ban coaches from the town centre in busy periods?

It is obvious we need to warn and educate the driver and improved signage would help solve our traffic problems. Church Street / Charmouth Road – Charmouth Road must have the most signage per mile than anywhere, several hidden by undergrowth, some (new road layout) years out of date and some (Colway Lane restricted) meaningless.

The car park is littered with signs; the driver cannot possibly read all whilst going even slowly. So a complete review of signs is needed, e.g. combine the Lyme Regis and Jurassic Coast signs into one.

The main problem here is that the visitor/new delivery vehicle does not know what lies ahead, and also the locals ignoring the priority sign at the London Inn. Signs are needed to inform the motorist/driver that the road is only three-plus meters wide and the corner at the lights is a right angle i.e. 90 degrees.

We have three ideal positions in Charmouth Road and need larger signs (say 2m x 1.5m) with warnings:

  1. Above Fairfield House, by the traffic restriction we need ‘Warning! Narrow streets and sharp bends ahead’
  2. At the football field we need ‘Warning! Obey road signs and markings ahead’
  3. At Charmouth Road car park we need ‘Narrow Streets Ahead (width xxx feet/xxx metres); ‘Priority Signs Ahead’
  4. At the London Inn we need a larger priority sign with also ‘Oncoming traffic in middle of road’ and broader road markings with possibly rumble strips. This makes a lot of large signs but is the only way to educate the motorist.

You see this sort of signage in many places in Cornwall, as I know from personal experience.

Broad Street – Everybody knows the bus stop is in the wrong place and needs to be moved back uphill where the pavement can be widened and a parked bus still allows two way traffic.

There is no doubt that the proposed crossing is going to mean a loss of parking spaces. Hopefully we will get back the two spaces we lost opposite the Three Cups. Another space could be provided outside the Royal Lion if the no parking area outside Serendip on the Shambles was blocked off permanently.

The Square – We need to educate the coach companies about unloading in the Square. Possibly by slightly widening the entrance to Cobb Gate car park and losing two spaces on the eastern seaward side an unloading bay could be found. We should not lose any more spaces.

Silver Street – The bus route out of town via Pound Road and into town via Silver Street seems to work well. Any idea of having a permanent one way system for traffic along these streets would cause chaos in Coombe Street, Hill Road and Woodmead Road – they have enough trouble already.

We need a priority sign and stop line in Silver Street at and above the Hill Road junction. It would work well for the stretch from the library up to Hill Road as it is a local tradition.

We need a ‘Slow – Narrow Streets Ahead’ sign near Kent House. We also need similar signs on the Uplyme Road and Sidmouth Road entrances to Lyme.

These are my own views on trying to sort traffic problems in Lyme. I am sure more people can come up with other suggestions.

Ken Gollop,
Fairfield Park, Lyme Regis

PROBABLY a big move, but I would stop access to Lyme for buses, coaches and large lorries from Hunters Lodge.

The route to lyme from Hunters Lodge is narrow and has many obstacles for the larger vehicles en route. Just look at the route particularly as you go through Uplyme and onwards to Silver Street. The road from Mariners Hotel through to town at Broad street is no place for buses, coaches or trucks, is it?

With no access for large vehicles from Hunters Lodge into Lyme, this would leave buses, coaches and lorries to access Lyme via Sidmouth Road and Charmouth Road. That’s no issue provided this is planned for. In fact, tour coaches should only access Lyme via Sidmouth Road only. (This would help to protect the route from the London Inn into town.)

There is no reason for tour coaches to negotiate the narrow roads that lead into the square and Broad Street. Sidmouth Road offers easy access to Holmbush car park allowing tourists to walk to town and beach from that drop off point.

A bus and coach only traffic light system could be used to assure that there would never be two or more buses in Broad Street at the same time. Buses and coaches could be held by traffic lights at both ends of town with access allowed for one bus in either direction.

CCTV could be used to monitor buses through town and trigger a green light in the opposite direction once the outbound bus has passed the access point for buses in the opposite direction.

Access for cars and light vans would not need to be restricted in any direction including from Hunters Lodge.

On the matter of local commuters that need a local bus service at Lyme? This could be achieved by using small mini buses that could operate a more frequent service in the local area if that is needed. I don’t live in Lyme Regis, but I know the town very well as I was brought up in Lyme.

The town really needs to be protected from large vehicles that are not suited to the local roads.

Nigel Gullock
(by email)

I HAVE written to your paper and its predecessor many times on the subject of traffic problems in Lyme Regis.

My family has owned a property in Church Street for over 50 years and the only real change in that time has been that there are now even more vehicles and they are larger.

The council has avoided the issue (partly, I suspect, for vested commercial reasons) and in recent times spent their time and our money on such things as disposing of the rotunda (totally unnecessary and a great shame), discussing a pedestrian crossing in Broad Street (which will increase the traffic congestion and is it really necessary?), and conjuring up a traffic survey costing £25,000 for East Devon District Council which had already decided not to allow a park and ride on the west side of the town.

The survey, incidentally, told us nothing that we did not already know!

Here are some of my suggestions to try and improve the situation:

  1. Large vehicles (say over seven and a half ton) should be banned from the town after, say, 10am. Action should be taken against both the driver and company owning the vehicle if they transgress.
  2. Day-tripper coaches should not be allowed to discharge their passengers in the town, but in the park and ride car park, where the coaches should remain. This also has the advantage of extra business for the park and ride service.
  3. It should not be rocket science to organise the bus timetables so that two large double-decker buses no not need to pass each other anywhere, but especially in Church Street.

I could go on but I am sure that our councillors will find far more important matters to discuss.

Jack Hansen,
Charmouth

I WRITE this through sheer frustration about the traffic chaos in Church Street and Bridge Street.

I work in the area and only yesterday yet another bus hit the window above the Your World travel agent – the glass from the window showering the street below.

I have first-hand knowledge and footage of 12 articulated vehicles over the last 24 months striking the overhanging Guildhall window. Also this week a bus found itself scraping along the scaffolding at the Rock Point Inn.

The larger vehicles have to be better controlled in this town.

Other areas that need addressing are pedestrian safety on Pound Street and traffic congestion at the top of Woodmead Road and on Silver Street and Coombe Street. We all know the town grew around the horse and cart – indeed Coombe Street was formerly known as Horse Street.

The town council is embracing the climate emergency initiatives with electric vehicles amongst other things, but I believe replacing petrol vehicles with electric does not solve the traffic issue and a bold solution to traffic must be found.

This is difficult to do in most small seaside towns but here we have the added complications of: a nationally controlled road by Highways England in the A35, and cross county boundary highways organisations, Dorset and Devon to deal with.

In addition any solution will inevitably involve, Lyme Regis Town Council and Uplyme Parish Council and will need to consider Axminster Town Council and Musbury Parish Council as well. No wonder this has never been solved!

Now to the bold solution – it may not be liked by some and will be painful and frustrating for residents but I offer it as a possible solution to throw into the melting pot. It could be trialled and then used only during the summer or all year round.

Pedestrianise Broad Street, control large vehicle delivery times and use smaller local buses. The town should also introduce other measures to support this including traffic calming on Pound Street with safe pedestrian zones and block the rat runs of Horn Bridge and Woodmead Road/Anning Road junction and Coombe Street.

The loss of high street parking must be substituted with more park and ride facilities using small buses or minibuses. However, resident access must be provided for those residing in Coombe Street, Pooles Court and Lym Close.

This can all be accomplished mostly through a series of six retractable bollards at key locations: Broad Street by the post office, Bridge Street by the Pilot Boat, by the old London pub, at the bottom of Hill Road at the bridge, bottom of Woodmead Road and at Horn Bridge.

It would, however, split the town in half – west and east – which will cause some difficulties for residents on the east wishing to travel west and vice versa but I believe this is a small price to pay when the local town bus service, which would have access, could be used. For travelling further afield running up to the A35 first is no great hardship.

It would also adversely affect the high street traders unless a suitable parking/park and ride solution and increased frequency town bus service comes with it.

The positives are that Broad Street, except for the smaller buses and larger vehicle deliveries, before say 10am, will be a pedestrian zone. People who live in the town can walk or use the more frequent town bus service reducing emissions.

Large delivery vehicles will never get down Church Street and Bridge Street again to damage important historic buildings and the town centre would markedly see a reduction in pollution from traffic.

In addition good signage will be required at the Boshill/Musbury A358 junction directing through-traffic up to the A35 as Lyme will not be passable. This will avoid traffic coming from the west having to use the Uplyme route to get to the A35.

Also good signage at Charmouth roundabout detailing that Lyme is not a through-route.

Some of your readers will no doubt think this is a mad suggestion, particularly the traders, but fortune favours the brave and other towns have managed it. We must tackle this issue now.

Pedestrianisation is inevitable – embrace it – be bold – we can do it”.

Name and address supplied

IF large vehicles could only enter from the A3052 (east bound) or from Hunters Lodge this would remove the major issue of large vehicles trying to turn around or to pass each other, especially in Church Street.

All large vehicles would then exit Lyme Regis via Charmouth Road and re-join the A35 at the roundabout. Corkscrew Hill would also need to be made one-way to enable any large vehicle that came into Lyme Regis from the roundabout to re-route back onto the A35 and then enter from Hunters Lodge.

Large vehicles heading towards the A3052 west bound from the A35 would need to be diverted via Trinity Hill.

The advantages of this are:

  • Entering Lyme Regis at Hunters Lodge either left (when west bound) or right (when east bound) is a relatively safe manoeuvre.
  • Exiting Lyme Regis at the roundabout on the A35 is a safe manoeuvre.
  • Damage to the Guildhall appears to be by traffic coming down Church Street not up.
  • Delivery vehicles would still have access to Lyme Regis centre.
  • The park and ride would still ‘capture’ the same visitors as it currently does.
  • Uplyme vehicles would not be affected.
  • There would be no need for vehicles to turn round at Cobb Gate.
  • Reduction in Lyme Regis’ large vehicle journeys through Uplyme, i.e. not both ways.
  • Any caravan or motorhomes mistakenly entering from the west would have any easier route through the town. None should enter from the A35 roundabout if well sign posted.
  • Limited impact on passenger vehicles.
  • No need for local Lyme Regis roads to be made one-way or carry extra traffic.
  • Any impact from longer journeys would more than be compensated by faster traffic flow, which should in real terms reduce journey times and pollution from stationary vehicles.
  • Reduce the number of large vehicles from Uplyme turning right at Hunters Lodge.

There are some issues with this proposal that could be solved:

  • Buses only being one way through Lyme Regis and ensuring passengers know which bus to catch.
  • Local roads becoming ‘rat runs’ (although faster flow through Lyme Regis centre should help negate this). The use of 20mph, or ‘sleeping policemen’ may manage this.
  • Simple sign posting to explain this to Large Vehicle Drivers.
  • A ‘village gateway’ near Screw Hill to catch large vehicles.
  • I trust the above provides food for thought.

Name and address supplied

THIS is what I am thinking and I’m sure transport planners could improve this proposal and make it workable.

The X51/53 bus would come into the Charmouth Road car park and the 9A bus would come into the Holmbush car park, so they would not go through the town. There would be adequate bus shelters constructed in both car parks.

The town bus service would be enhanced and it would be timetabled to serve both these bus stops to provide a connection for both services. This would have include the B3165 through Uplyme to Hunters Lodge.

I also have an issue with the X51/53 service with the winter timetable. It no longer provides a service to be able to catch the 7.37am train to Exeter from Axminster station, although if South West Railways (SWR) provided a 8.03am train service to Exeter this would not be an issue.

Interestingly, First Group who run the X51/53 bus service also have 70 per cent of the SWR franchise.

Also the last bus leaves Axminster station at 6.22pm, so if you catch the 5.50pm or later train there is no bus service back to Lyme. Maybe the town bus service could provide a connection service to Axminster Station when the X51/53 doesn’t.

I also note that the AVMT 885 bus service gives an excellent connection service to Axminster Station from Seaton Beer and Colyton.

As for the large lorries that come into Lyme the only suggestion I can think of is to instruct them by adequate signage on the A35 to enter and leave Lyme on a one way basis.

That would just leave large lorries coming in from the Seaton road looking for a solution unless the one way flow was west to east.

John Francis
(by email)

Woodmead Halls
About Francesca Evans 1760 Articles
Francesca grew up in Lyme Regis and has worked in community journalism in the area since 2011, having gained a First Class Honours degree in journalism and her NCTJ qualifications at Southampton Solent University.

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