‘Northgate Gyratory urgently needs traffic lights’

The Northgate Gyratory leading onto Oaklands WayThe Northgate Gyratory leading onto Oaklands Way
The Northgate Gyratory leading onto Oaklands Way
Letter from: John Templeton, Washington Street, Chichester

The Northgate Gyratory is a classic example of a failed traffic concept of the 1960s, constructed by West Sussex County Council in the mid-1970s.

Together with the dual carriageway Oaklands Way (with a subway allowing Festival Theatre audiences and users of Northgate car park to cross safely) it was part of the grand plan for a complete dual carriageway ring road to allow traffic to flow at speed uninterrupted by pedestrians.

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Apart from the subway, no pedestrian facility has been provided at the gyratory to this day, although gyratories elsewhere, notably at London’s Hyde Park Corner, have been calmed by light-controlled pedestrian crossings.

In March, 1976 direct action by the Orchard Residents’ Association one rush hour stopped all traffic in Orchard Street and shamed WSCC into providing the two light-controlled pedestrian crossings on Orchard Street later that year.

But the gyratory has steadily become more dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists alike and the latest temporary plastic bollards have merely added to the confusion and danger to everyone.

A particular problem is at the exit onto Orchard Street, designed to allow traffic to speed away onto Orchard Street with centrifugal force and scarcely a turn of the steering wheel, with many drivers not bothering to indicate their intentions.

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This is highly dangerous for the numerous pedestrians who need to cross from Northgate to St Paul’s Road without a detour to the Orchard Street crossing.

Traffic lights should be provided as a matter of urgency before a tragedy occurs. But WSCC’s original plan was to make Orchard Street a dual carriageway, demolishing all the houses along the south side.

It was only due to a lack of funds and a major campaign led by the Chichester Society that the scheme was abandoned, but had it gone ahead, the demolition of the granary would probably have provided sufficient space for a pedestrian subway to have been constructed.

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