A difference between Horsham and Farnham

Horsham and Farnham are ostensibly quite similar. Two prosperous towns in the south of England, about 25 miles apart, as the crow flies. Farnham has a population of about 40,000 people; Horsham is slightly larger with a population of 55,000.

Although, beyond these main similarities, there are presumably many differences, one noticeable difference one stands out. The number of pedestrians who are being seriously injured in their town centres.

Looking at Horsham first – just four pedestrians have been seriously injured in the town centre in the last ten years.

From Crashmap.

From Crashmap.

Noticeably, every single one of these casualties occurred on the inner ring road; a dual carriageway with a 30mph speed limit. All occurred at crossing points into the town centre. There were no serious casualties, at all, within the inner ring road.

The town centre of Farnham, at the same scale –

From Crashmap.

From Crashmap.

Rather different. 18 pedestrian KSIs over the same period, including one fatality. Four of these occurred on the A31 Farnham bypass, which has to be crossed to get into the town from the station. 13 pedestrians have been seriously injured in the centre of Farnham in ten years. News reports on two of these incidents are here and here. (The data doesn’t include last year, and so does not include this incident).

Why might this be? Why is nobody being seriously injured in the centre of Horsham, while a pedestrian is being seriously injured in the centre of Farnham at a rate greater than one a year?

Horsham is a far from brilliant place to walk and cycle around, but the town centre itself has largely been civilised. Much of it is pedestrianised, and there is very little motor traffic travelling through it. What traffic that is moving through is generally travelling at a low speed, thanks to a 20mph zone (zone, not limit) with tight corners, humps, and cobbled surfaces.

The only route through Horsham town centre.

The only route through Horsham town centre.

Farnham, by contrast, is not so much a ‘town centre’, more a funnel for motor traffic.

It really is this bad.

It really is this bad.

A one-way system dominates the shopping streets in the centre, motor traffic travelling at 30mph, with tiny pavements on either side (see for yourself).

The price of this arrangement – beyond how awful it is, as a place – is a pedestrian seriously injured, at least once a year. Somehow Horsham manages not to do this to people visiting its town centre.

Interestingly enough it appears that the problem has been recognised – proposals from Jeremy Hunt (yes, that Jeremy Hunt!) for pedestrianization of some of the problematic streets in Farnham has just been narrowly endorsed. Worth keeping an eye on.

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12 Responses to A difference between Horsham and Farnham

  1. rdrf says:

    You have to be careful assessing levels of danger in terms of absolute numbers of casualties recorded for a particular user group. You know this from your “the going rate” post (and my comments ).

    So, for example, if Horsham was massively successful in encouraging loads of relaxed walking, you might get an increase in pedestrian casualties – but not in the more important measure, the casualty RATE (per journey, time or distance walked).

    What seems to be happening here is that Farnham is so comparatively dreadful (far more motor danger) that even with more pedestrian care being taken (due to the relatively greater motor danger) the pedestrians who are still there are going to have a far higher casualty rate. And a lot of people will still have to walk – even if many, particularly very young, old and disabled are scared away – so the overall number of serious injuries will be relatively high.

    • That’s true, but if these factors are in play – Horsham genuinely having more people walking in it because it is more attractive, with Farnham having a suppressed walking rate – the picture for Farnham would be even worse!

  2. fonant says:

    What struck me first when looking at the two photos in this article, was how old-fashioned Farnham looks with all that useless motor traffic in a prime shopping street! Are you sure that Farnham photo wasn’t taken in the 1970’s?

    • Take it from me, Farnham was far nicer in the early 80s & less traffic as most was using the new by-pass. But as we know from experience this wasnt to last & its back to mayhem & few yrs back Farnham was deemed the most polluted town & still nothing been done. Will get worse to if the East St regeneration finally gets the go ahead & will bring more shoppers into town. I lived in this town for over 10yrs & its just got worse in that time.

  3. rdrf says:

    Mark, you and I would think that “the picture for Farnham would be even worse!”, as expressed in terms of walking Serious Injuries per crossing, or per distance/time travelled by foot. But traditional “road safety” people would not, as they do not have that kind of metric.

  4. smsm1986 says:

    The centre of Ipswich is mostly pedestrianised, and many of the main shopping streets used to have through motor traffic. I really don’t know how the shops would be popular if they were full of motor traffic. Will there, or has there been protests from retailers in Farnham about loss of trade from the pedestrianisation, or are they championing it?

  5. binsted says:

    That picture of Farnham shows a particularly narrow part of the street where the path is also very narrow sometimes necessitating stepping off the kerb to pass oncoming pedestrians. Add to this that cars are converging from roads from south and north and are looking to switch lanes, this is often done “at speed” as nobody will give way. I am surprised there have not been more accidents.

    • Oh there’s been far more accidents but not recorded, normally classed as trips or falls due to narrow paths so not a traffic accident. paths are so narrow it can only take single file flow of peds & yet you get 2 way fighting through it. Worst part is the Borough between West St & East/South St crossroads, wheelchairs can barely get along those paths there.

  6. paulc says:

    Centre of Gloucester in the 1970’s before it got pedestrianised:

    and well after (video dates from 2006)

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