Fake speed bumps were painted on a busy road and everyone just ignores them

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Bemused motorists have branded fake speed bumps along a road in Kent a ‘waste of paint’ as no-one even stops for them.

For years, three-dimensional speed bumps in Swanscombe, a village in Dartford, ended up damaging the cars driving through them.

So Kent County Council scooped them out only to replace them with completely flat fake ones on Stanhope Road in 2019.

County officials hoped that drivers would still slow down for the optical illusions as they drove along the road that links two schools.

But drivers aren’t exactly fooled by them, says Arriva bus driver Katie Bell, who drives along the stretch more than 50 times a day.

‘It is an absolute waste of white paint,’ she says.

‘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.’

A landslide on a nearby thoroughfare some 18 months ago has only sent more cars along the thin stretch, with the dud speed bumps doing little to make things manageable, Katie says.

‘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,’ she says.

‘But the 2D bumps are pointless.’

Though, as much as Katie has rather choice words about them, not every villager opposes the fake speed bumps.

‘I still find myself breaking in preparing for the jolt even though the other bumps are gone. The trauma is still there,’ says Joanne Hales.

But she stresses that the painted speed bumps do look a little like crossings, being wary that pedestrians can be seen looking left and right along them.

‘They just step out without looking and expect all the cars to stop. One day it’s going to cause an almighty accident,’ she says.

Transport for London (TfL) first introduced imitation speed bumps in 2014 in a bid to slow traffic speeds down to 20mph.

Transit officials at the time said the painted speed bumps were part of a city-wide effort to ‘create a road network which is free from death or serious injury’.

They hope to do this by not relying so much on bumps, humps and lumps.

It’s an approach that Joanne can get behind. ‘The bumps were dreadful,’ she says.

‘They were too high and did lots of damage to lots of people’s cars over the years.’

Simon Williams, a safety spokesperson for the car insurance company RAC, says that optical illusion speed bumps are a mixed blessing.

‘Clearly, painting mock speed humps is significantly cheaper for any cash-strapped council than making physical changes to the road,’ he says.

‘But the risk is that drivers intent on speeding quickly realise they’re not real and continue to break the speed limit.’

He adds that councils need to ensure that the paint markings are maintained.

When the county council first painted the bumps on the road, it 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.’

Kent County Council has been approached for comment.

A town in Somerset earlier this year also had an idea on how to slow down traffic using paint: squiggly white road lines.

The new road layout was compared by some locals to a lane for drunk drivers, with a white liune at the end of a parking section snaking along in a wiggly line.

While nearly 60 people have been injured while walking along Keynsham High Street in Bristol because the white lines on the street have been painted the same colour as the pavement.

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