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Peace again after battle with Freshford's lorries

PEACE has returned at last to Freshford's tiny lanes which had been blighted by heavy lorries using satellite navigation.
New "Euro-signs" installed by B&NES in March have been so successful that HGV incursions could be a thing of the past, say residents.
One couple had waged a seven-year battle for signs banning lorries from 6ft 6in Ashe's Lane and nearby Rosemary Lane, which is even narrower and steeper.
Astonishingly, both lanes had been a "preferred" satnav route through Freshford, so the couple had to persuade the giant data-provider Navteq to delete them from the map.
They won � succeeding where B&NES and even the police had failed.
A senior Highways official at B&NES Highways said: "Freshford has become one of the first areas in Britain to get the new signs. It's early days but already Ashe's and Rosemary Lanes appear to be almost lorry-free again."
For several years huge vehicles � including furniture vans, removal lorries and even oil tankers � had mangled Ashe's Lane and threatened to demolish the wall on a tight band outside Alan and Karin Cunninghams' cottage.
But in March last year B&NES Highways bosses decided that enough was enough. They ruled that the situation was "untenable" and said the new Euro-signs had to go up.
However, getting them approved took ages � and the heavy traffic kept coming. Then, out of the blue, the Cunninghams' campaign was given the backing of Bath MP Don Foster and Neil Butters, Lib-Dem councillor for Bathavon South.


By October last year the signs had still not arrived. So Ypres Rose, developers of the Mill housing site, agreed to let the couple word their own sign at the top of Ashe's Lane warning that lorry drivers would "get stuck" if they tried to use it. Most HGV drivers took one look at the sign � pictured above � and turned back.
The official signs eventually went up at both ends of the lane in April this year.
So where was Freshford Parish Council during the Cunninghams' seven-year battle?
Ducking well below the parapet. It contributed nothing to the campaign. Yet, shamefully, it popped up to ask B&NES for eight more signs � but only after the couple had won them for Ashe's Lane.
And in a particularly spiteful gesture, the parish council actually objected to one of the new signs in Ashe's Lane � because it would look "untidy". As one officer at B&NES commented: "It rather beggars belief."
So has Freshford's HGV problem really been resolved? It's beginning to look that way as the combined effect of the new signs and the deletion of the lanes as sat-nav routes begins to bite.
"We've not seen a heavy lorry down here since April when the signs went up," said Alan Cunningham, who has lived in Ashe's Lane for 20 years. And the "you'll get stuck" sign has probably played a part in this. Neil Butters' splendid work has been very welcome, too.
"Of course, any lane may get the occasional HGV until every haulage firm updates the satnav in its vehicles. And, most of all, the satnav makers need to refine their software to ensure that routes like Ashe's and Rosemary Lanes are always off-limits to HGVs.
"All this will take time. But we hope that our action has helped to bring peace again to these beautiful lanes in Freshford." (2010)




WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have YOU been affected by issues involving HGVs and satnav? If so, please add your comments here.




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Double joy as villagers win their sat-nav fight

A FRESHFORD couple have won a double breakthrough in their battle to get big vehicles banished from a tiny lane which has been hammered by drivers using satellite navigation.
Navteq � the biggest provider of map data to satnav firms � is to delete 6ft 6in-wide Ashe's Lane as the "preferred satnav route" through the village to and from the A36.
Also being axed is Rosemary Lane which is even narrower and steeper but has been pounded by huge lorries because, extraordinarily, it is also part of the preferred route.
Ashe's Lane and Rosemary Lane have also become two of the first roads in Britain soon to get new European-style signs designed to keep out the monsters.
The combined result of the new signs and the satnav breakthrough means that heavy traffic is being� encouraged to go via wider Abbey Lane and Freshford Lane which, of course, has always been the officially sign-posted route through the village.
Alan and Karin Cunningham asked Navteq to act after suffering seven years of misery as large vehicles with satnav ignored width restriction and "No HGVs" signs, mangled the road and its verges and threatened to smash down the stone wall outside their cottage on a tight corner of Ashe's Lane.
Praising the recent decisions, Mr Cunningham said: "Frankly, our lives had become difficult. So last April B&NES Highways Traffic and Safety boss said the position had become "untenable" and applied for the new Euro-style signs, which were still on the drawing-board then at the Department for Transport.
"Allowing two of the village's narrowest, steepest lanes to become satnav route for all traffic was plainly ludicrous. And, of course, Navteq's decision should play a major part in reducing this heavy traffic. But although its action is very welcome, there are still a great many imponderables.
"A total ban still depends on making sure that ALL relative information about these tiny lanes is obtained and refined by firms like Navteq, which provides data for the firms producing satnav devices. The problem is that Navteq is just one of several big companies providing this data � and obviously we need all data-providers to remove these vulnerable lanes from their data banks."
There are other vital factors, too. The real success of the operation to "filter out" roads like Ashe's and Rosemary Lane depends on how frequently vehicle owners update their satnav devices � and on drivers simply obeying the new road signs.
But as Alan Cunningham says: "This is a great start."

WHAT DO YOU THINK? Have you been affected by issues involving HGVs and satnav? If so, please add your comments here.

Analysing the sat-nav problem

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So is sat nav a problem in the UK?

Yes! Ben Webster Transport Correspondent of the Times Online reported on the problem in May 2008  Sat Nav regulation needed  The UK Government has realised that there is a problem as reported in this Telegraph article dated June 2008. The Ordnance Survey had already been involved in preparing freight routes. December 2007. This article by Mark Pickervance refers to a village somewhat closer to Freshford read.

I also searched the Daily Mail Online and found a few dozen articles. I could have searched other newspapers as well but I believe there is more than enough information to confirm that there really is a problem in the UK. A selection of articles are given below:

The first new sat-nav sign went up a few years ago now. The picture from the Dail Mail accompanies an article which should be read by everyone who needs to know the extent of the problem.


The sat nav issues in Freshford

In addition in Freshford motorists are indeed directed to drive to Bath from the Westwood direction via the two most narrow lanes in the village. Simply because they are calculated by the NAVTEQ software to be the shortest route. The article can be read here.

A Tetleys beer lorry caused extensive damage to the Freshford Mill bridge in september 2008. The damage took over five months to repair during which time unwary walkers, motorists and other road users would have had no protection from falling into the river Frome.  The matter was reported to the Freshford parish council and can be read here

Views of NAVTEQ boss Judson Green

Apparently commenting on recent research into the environmental aspects of SATNAV President and Chief Executive Officer Judson Green the technology has brought benefits in a reduction of CO2 -the Greenhouse gas- but what about the effect on villages like Freshford? source of this research AGI (Association for Geographic Information).

On the AGI website I found by searching for "SATNAV" this article by Scott Sinclair on the role of the Ordnance Survey in providing road classification information to the SATNAV providers. Ordnance Survey to help hauliers turn the corner on road routing That article was written in 2007 but NAVTEQ does not seem to have addressed the problem yet, or if they are there is little evidence of, what to many, is a deterioration in their lives caused by traffic using unsuitable routes.






Sat-nav 'Preferred' Roads

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Freshford roads that became blighted

Photos of Freshford roads most affected by misdirected traffic: Ashes LaneRosemary Lane


Using Microsoft's AutoRoute sat-nav PC based software anyone driving to Bath from the Staples Hill direction will be directed to get to the A36 via "local roads" (Mill lane) up Rosemary Lane into Abbey lane then up Ashes Lane. AutoRoute is based on NAVTEQ's mapping and directions. The route is with the Route Planner's Preferred Routes set to neither Like or Dislike for Minor Roads. Screen shot below.


MS AutoRoute uses Rosemary and Ashes lanes to direct motorists to Bath

With Minor roads set fully to Dislike Rosemary lane will still be selected but Ashes lane will not.� Screen shot below.

MS AutoRoute uses Rosemary lane not Ashes lane when road preferrences are set to most dislike using minor roads

Sat Nav Preferred Routes

Fortunately HGV traffic heading for Bath from the South should be using the A36 and from the South-East the A363 via Bradford on Avon. Unfortunately, preferred routes through Freshford have not even been determined by Freshford Parish Council yet, as far as I am aware. My opinion is that the preferred route should go up Church lane, which means traffic going through the village centre but not through the hamlets of Park Corner, Sharpstone and the new, not as yet completed, Freshford Mill.

No through route for HGV (lorries)

Why shouldn't Freshford and other similar villages be no go areas for heavy commercial traffic? While still allowing for Access Only? Rather than have to erect a lot of road signs? Those vehicles that need to access a site, eg. Freshford Mill development or the Community shop should use the preferred route.

Sat-nav MS AutoRoute Road Types

 option menu for MS AutoRoute's road preferencesinsert pic

I think there should be another class of road as "Minor Road" is not sufficient to filter out roads which are single track, unsuitable for HGV, steep hills or involve going through a conservation area. Rosemary lane should be local access only.��A pedestrian would be forced to move on to someones property if a vehicle, any vehicle were to go up or down the lane.

These mapping companies must already have a way to identify each road in addition to its name.�Every road will have geophysical features that can be used to classify it. This database could be enlarged to include additional data. Where a parish council has identified a problem then a� checklist could be used to aid filtering the data that is used to compile a route for a driver. for example:


Road Classification: example Rosemary lane Freshford
single track   x    
  no turning place x    
  no passing places x    
  one side        
  both sides      
  none   x    
narrow     x    
steep     x    
  one side        
  both sides x    
surface water drainage x    
sharp junction   x    
AONB     x    
conservation area   x    
dwellings     x    
telegraph pole   x    
horses     x    
cyclists     x    
pedestrians   x    

Sat-nav traffic problem

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SATELLITE NAVIGATION: looking at the problem and its solution?

With the introduction of satellite navigation systems (sat-nav) in motor vehicles has come the blight of extra traffic in rural villages. The nature of traffic that uses rural roads has changed to include large commercial vehicles. Before sat-nav road users used road maps or atlases to plan journeys. Apart from Ordnance survey maps that are suitable for walkers and serve the needs of local people rural roads, lanes, were not included. Drivers naturally used the most appropriate roads. And unless they were locals they had no knowledge of the smaller roads.

There is a place for delivery vehicles including tradesman's "white" vans in rural roads as they go about their business making use of their knowledge of local roads systems to get from one place to another without wasting time and fuel. But there is no good reason, in my opinion, for other drivers to use rural roads, although they have the right to do so. A vehicle with sat-nav is provided with detailed mapping and directions to get from one location to another. The sat-nav device uses software that provides a route with graphic information and verbal instructions which a driver may decide to follow. Even cars become a nuisance if they are just taking the shortest route from one place to another, especially when they try to follow that shortest route at a breakneck speed!

When a thirty-eight ton vehicle gets stuck in a narrow country road because the driver has been following sat-nav directions there is clearly something that has gone wrong. Whilst Freshford village has not had to deal with a vehicle that large it has had damage to the Freshford Mill bridge and also a thirty ton lorry with concrete beams stuck in the same Mill bridge location as the bridge has a three ton weight limit as well. The smallest lane in Freshford is Ashes lane and large vehicles have been using that lane and causing damage to residents cottages by a sharp bend.

Adding suitable signs to roads that are unsuitable for through traffic, lorries and heavy goods vehicles should help but I feel that only legislation will help to resolve this situation.

The first thing to note is that the English word "lane" means "a narrow road in the country". Since Sat Nav systems should have the names of all the roads on their systems it should be relatively simple to exclude roads that have the name "lane" and possibly "hill" as well. Roads are also classified and I can't see why routes cannot be restricted to classified roads for certain types of vehicle.

Unfortunately, nearly all roads in Freshford are "lanes". Rosemary lane for example is actually the steepest "hill" in the area - except for the road down to Avoncliff. Yet Rosemary lane is not called a "hill". I can fully understand NAVTEQ and  sat-nav companies being reluctant to alter their databases in the face of this nonsense! For NAVTEQ et al road names are unreliable. The Ordnance Surevey should have the necessary data, but if not, why not ? 

Second, If it is an offence for a certain type of vehicle to use some types of road then surely the Sat Nav provider by providing instructions to use those roads is conspiring a person to break the law. I would have thought that the sat-nav software should warn the driver that the route contains roads that are unsuitable for his or her vehicle.

Third, whilst I do not have the skill to modify the software that sat-navs use I would have thought that it is possible to include, if there isn't already, a parameter to input the type of vehicle. That information could be used to filter unsuitable roads from the generated best route.

Are TeleAtlas, TomTom, Garmin, NAVTEQ and other sat-nav mapping providers breaking the law? and if they aren't maybe the legislation should be enacted to determine that they are, if they can't exclude unsuitable roads from their instructions to drivers of lorries and other commercial large vehicles. Are the companies by providing instructions, without warnings, inciting drivers to break the law? Since Incitement has been replaced by three new offences, what may be applicable is this one: "Intentionally encouraging or assisting an offence". The sat-nav provider has the information (knows full well) that for certain types of vehicle, certain types of roads (and areas of the countryside) if entered by that vehicle would break the a law. Surely, by NOT warning the driver that to use that route would result in the driver breaking a law the sat-nav provider is Encouraging or Assisting an Offence? Or in plain English these companies know that part of the routes they depict are unsuitable for commercial lorries so should warn the driver.

One company can provide a solution for trucks and lorries and has done it: The Syrius S2000 PROLINE with TRUCKMATE. The first portable satellite navigation system to include dedicated routing designed specifically for trucks and large vehicles such as coaches, buses and mobile homes. Include FREE TMC traffic information updates. From:  Why can't the others do the same? For links about incidents that were due to sat-nav use see

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