Horticulture and Road Safety

According to todays Independent on Sunday, cash strapped Councils are looking to innovative planting schemes to slow motorists down be changing their perceptions.

..”Norfolk County Council planted 200 trees in four villages – Martham, Horstead, Mundesley and Overstrand – in an effort to reduce average speeds by two to three miles per hour and cut accidents by 20 per cent. There had been 20 crashes in the rural spots over a five-year period.

Mr Hallett said the initiative, which supports carbon reduction and is the first of its kind in the UK, was about changing the environment to alter motorists’ perspectives. The planting of trees and hedges is designed to reduce speed “by playing with the driver’s peripheral vision”. One technique involved placing trees – at decreasing distances apart – on the approach to a village, tricking drivers into thinking they were speeding. “If you are staying at a constant speed, your peripheral vision [which takes in the trees] is giving you the impression you are going faster,” explained Mr Hallett. “People hit the brakes before they hit the village.”

Another method was to plant trees “so that it looks like the environment is closing in on the driver”, he added. The road remains the same width but trees are planted on a “lazy diagonal” that gets narrower towards the entrance to the village….”

I worked in commercial horticulture for five years and support this type of scheme wholeheartedly. Trees and plants can assist in all sorts of unusual situations. A Crataegus Prunifolia hedgerow, for example, can be planted as an excellent deterrent against burglary. The touring cyclist traveling through France will be familiar with the beautiful avenues of Plane trees along the roadside and further planting on exposed roadsides over here could act as an unwittingly good windbreak and landscape enhancement.

As far as road safety is concerned however, I would argue that these solutions don’t go far enough. I would like to make a couple of tentative additions of my own to their inventive arboricultural arsenal;

The Yellow Petunia Speed Camera Hanging Basket

A very nice Health & Safety yellow, wouldn't you say?

This is a great opportunity for towns and villages to combine their ‘Britain in Bloom‘ budget with road safety. Just plant oblong boxes with Yellow petunias to look like the backs of speed cameras and hang them on grey poles. It combines a topical matter with gardening and could give Alan Titchmarch the inspiration to write a decent novel for a change.

The Accident Black Spot Daisy Chalk Outline

Like this. But with daisies instead of chalk.

Where there is a high casualty rate, just plant beautiful daisies as a replica chalk outline in a nearby grass verge or meadow. Add Michaelmas Daisies across the head to create a baseball cap effect where there is a higher than average amount of Citroen Saxo’s in the area.

The opportunities are endless! I would personally advocate the ‘Palm Trees Falling Across The Road If Someone Triggers The Speed Trap In A Thunderbird 2 Runway Type Scenario’ but you might as well switch the cameras back on for that kind of money.

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