Virtual footways now a reality

Two rural communities in Somerset now have the county’s first ‘virtual footways’ as part of a pilot to improve road safety by Somerset County Council.

A virtual footway is a scheme to make it safer for pedestrians in rural areas where the road is too narrow for a pavement. The work includes coloured surfacing to show an area of shared space for cars and pedestrians, improved signs and road markings, and the introduction of a 20mph speed limit.

The two villages taking part in the pilot are Haselbury Plucknett and Creech St Michael, both with support from local residents.

Cllr David Fothergill, Somerset County Council’s Cabinet Member for Highways, said: “I’m delighted we now have two virtual footways in Somerset. These are a great solution, particularly in rural areas, to help pedestrians get around safely where there is not enough room for a pavement.

“Both of these schemes are near schools where previously children would have been forced to walk in the road.

“Somerset is one of the most rural counties in England so this could be something we see a lot more of in future. We’ll be looking closely at these locations and considering if they can be introduced at other locations.”

Virtual footway CreechSM

The virtual footway in Creech St Michael

The Haselbury Plucknett virtual footway runs for around 200m along the A3066 North Street near Haselbury Plucknett First School. The scheme cost around £28,000 and was first put forward by then County Councillor Cathy Bakewell on behalf of the community who had seen similar schemes over the border in Dorset. It has since been supported by Cllr Marcus Fysh and the designs were drawn up in consultation with the parish council, school and local residents.

In Creech St Michael, the virtual footway runs for over 110m from North End to St Michael’s Road. This scheme cost around £40,000 and was put forward by Cllr Fothergill who is the local County Councillor. It was also supported by the local community including the parish council and the local primary school.