Drivers slam 'optical illusion' speed bumps painted along school-run

Drivers slam ‘optical illusion’ 2D speed bumps painted along busy school-run to slow speeding traffic as an ‘absolute waste of paint’ – after old humps caused damage to cars

  • Residents believe the bumps were a ‘waste of paint’ as they’re clearly not real 

Motorists have branded fake speed bumps made to look like real ones a waste of council cash because drivers just ignore them.

The virtual humps were painted to slow down speeding drivers along a busy road that leads to two different schools in Swanscombe, Kent.

They replaced real bumps that had damaged cars over the years.

But residents called the virtual 2D speed bumps a ‘waste of paint’ as locals know they are not real.

Arriva bus driver Katie Bell drives along the road more than 50 times a day and claims the 2D road cushions, which act like an optical illusion, do little to slow down traffic.

Residents called the virtual 2D speed bumps a ‘waste of paint’ as locals know they are not real

Police close Stanhope Road which has the painted on speed bumps, after a traffic incident

The 46-year-old said: ‘It is an absolute waste of white paint.

‘People speed along there as they know there aren’t bumps. I’ve heard drivers beep others because they are driving too slowly over them.

‘I can’t quite believe they came up with the idea in the first place.’

Traffic has increased over the last two months following a landslide on a nearby major road, which has forced it to close for 18 months.

READ MORE: Pensioner installs £8,000 speedbumps and his own 5mph limit on 100-yard stretch of road outside his home to stop speeding drivers using road as a cut-through 

With the amount of congestion she sees every day, Ms Bell believes there may be better ways to control the flow, such as erecting more signs warning of schools.

She added: ‘That road gets crazy busy even at a standstill during school drop off/pick ups so it would make more sense to have more warning signs that there’s a school and residential area to calm down the traffic a tad, but the 2D bumps are pointless.’

One resident, Joanne Hales, thinks there needs to be a proper zebra crossing where people can cross over the one remaining hump.

She said: ‘The thing that concerns me is that many pedestrians assume the large hump is a crossing. They just step out without looking and expect all the cars to stop. One day it’s going to cause an almighty accident.

‘If it is a crossing then it should be signed so with black and white lines and orange flashing lights like you would see on a crossing. That way both parties know what to expect.’

However, she does not oppose the virtual bumps.

She added: ‘They’re good. I still find myself braking in preparing for the jolt even though the other bumps are gone. The trauma is still there.’

Some residents were even excited to hear about the plans to introduce the 2D humps after complaining about the ferocity of the old concrete bumps.

Ms Hales said: ‘The bumps were dreadful. They were too high and did lots of damage to lots of people’s cars over the years.’

Councilor Peter Harman, from Swanscombe & Greenhithe Residents’ Association and represents the area on Kent County Council, said residents are unhappy.

He said he had been relaying residents’ concerns to County Hall for the past two years as the 10cm high speed bumps were leaving residents unhappy.

He was initially delighted at the proposed traffic calming measure but he now believes they are not enough.

Virtual speed humps were first introduced by Transport for London in 2014 to create an ‘optical illusion, appearing raised to drivers as they approach, giving the impression that speed humps lie ahead’.

It is part of a strategy to control speeds without the use of bumps, humps and lumps.

They claim the physical interventions have a number of drawbacks, including an increase in traffic noise and pollution as drivers constantly change their speed.

Virtual speed humps were first introduced by Transport for London in 2014

Damage to a car at Stanhope Road which has painted on speed bumps, in Swanscombe, after a traffic incident

RAC road safety spokesman Simon Williams said: ‘Clearly, painting mock speed humps is significantly cheaper for any cash-strapped council than making physical changes to the road, but the risk is that drivers intent on speeding quickly realise they’re not real and continue to break the speed limit.

‘Having said that, with scant budget available to them arguably some intervention by a council like this is better than none at all – so long as the markings are kept painted.’

When they were first painted in 2019, a spokesman for Kent County Council (KCC) said: ‘We anticipate more psychological traffic-calming measures being implemented at sites across the county which aim to encourage a reduction in vehicle speed through changing the driver’s perception of the road environment.’

MailOnline has approached KCC for comment.

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