Planting Trees Slows Down Drivers
This green and pleasant land, in our opinion, isn't green enough. We're not just talking about environmental and energy-saving initiatives but also the fact that this country was once covered in trees and mankind, in his infinite "wisdom", has seen to remove so many of them. However, Norfolk County Council have been planting trees in rural villages, not for environmental reasons, but for traffic calming.
The new Coalition Government, in its ruthless drive to cut costs, has slashed the road safety budget, meaning that local authorities are free to choose whether or not they can invest in speed camera initiatives. To the complete dismay of road safety campaigners, cash-strapped councils are rumoured to be bailing out of road safety schemes despite the fact that some cameras can actually generate revenue, not to mention saving lives.
But Norfolk County Council's innovative idea, at a cost of £70,000, appears to be slowing drivers down. On the approach to four of the county's rural villages, Martham, Horstead, Mundesley and Overstrand, the council's strategic planting scheme seems to be having an affect.
Planting 200 trees at these four locations, the council have created a "lazy diagonal" on the approach to the villages with the trees planted at ever-decreasing distances apart. The idea is that the tress play with the drivers' peripheral vision so, as they approach a village at speed, the placement of the trees creates the sensation of increased speed so the drivers naturally apply the brakes and slow down.
As well as reducing speed and hopefully accidents, the initiative is also a carbon reduction scheme and, in part, a historic restoration exercise. Looking back at old photographs of Norfolk, councillors saw that the "avenue affect", a classical sight in France, has been lost in this county and the tree-planting strategy was also restoring these bygone vistas.
Stuart Hallett, Norfolk's casualty reduction manager said that the trees were not replacements for speed cameras, especially on fast roads, but as the planting of the trees in the rural locations was reducing speeds by around 2MPH it was showing positive results in the villages.
"What we tried to do in some locations was get over this idea of the village dominating the road environment, not the road dominating the village, so the driver's perspective is 'I am travelling through a community, I need to respect that and slow down'."
said Hallett in an interview with The Independent.
The scheme has yet to release the full figures but let's hope they get the results they need. A reduction in costs, carbon emissions and in road casualties coupled with the re-greening of this land sounds like a very positive win-win situation for drivers, for villagers and for the environment too.