28 July 2021 | Case Study | BY: Westcotec
What’s the background?
Concerns were raised about the poor visibility of horses and jockeys riding to and from the paddocks on the B4000 Upper Lambourn Road. It’s a busy rural thoroughfare that bisects a number of paddocks and racing yards, an equine hospital and the large area of gallops used for exercising the horses on a daily basis.
Will Riggall of the Jockey Club takes up the story.
“As part of a new development of racing yards, we were faced with the challenge of safely crossing strings of racehorses across the busy B4000 in Upper Lambourn,” he said. “The road layout (we were on a ‘T’ junction), and the horse movements associated with an existing stable yard, meant the design was not straightforward and it was not possible to use a Newmarket-style ‘Pegasus crossing’. There were upwards of 150 horse movements to and from the gallops each morning, along what is a busy and fast section of the rural B road.”
In 2016, Westcotec manufactured and installed two warning signs after concerns were raised about the risks. The speed limit was reduced to 30mph and after working in conjunction with West Berkshire Council, Lambourn Parish Council and the Jockey Club Estates, Westcotec engineers developed a system which combines a trigger device with bespoke signs to warn drivers of horses crossing.
The scheme was expanded in 2018, utilising a similar system comprising three LED ridden horse warning triangles (one each for the east/westbound B4000 and one for the unnamed side road), together with two rider activation buttons positioned strategically away from the junction to allow for
stopping distances. The riders activate the button on approaching the junction to alert motorists that they are about to enter the highway. West Berkshire Council also added further advance warning signage and red anti-skid surface dressing to the junction area, to enhance the crossing point.
The signs are generally in use between 6am and 12.30pm, when most horses are being ridden by jockeys to and from the gallop. They can be activated by riders from either side of the road. Once activated, the lights flash for 60 seconds.
Westcotec engineers worked closely to provide an activation system that was effective and robust, and that could be used without the need for a rider to dismount. Initially the signs were activated when the rider struck the trigger device with a crop. However, following feedback from users, this method was replaced by large buttons, which have proved effective and reliable.
The Westcotec overview
Chris Spinks, Westcotec’s managing director, said: “We are always delighted to be given an opportunity to innovate in responding to a customer’s request.
“This scheme had a specific requirement and as there was no off-the-shelf product available we used our experience in traffic safety systems design and manufacture and provided the solution which I’m pleased to say our customer is delighted with.
“We take pride in every bespoke solution we install, and it was particularly satisfying for us to listen to the riders’ feedback and improve the activation
mechanism. We look forward to ensuring many years of safe road crossing for the riders, and incident-free journeys for other users of the Upper Lambourn Road.”
Will Riggall said: “The Westcotec signage has greatly improved the crossing for horses and riders. They still have to approach the junction with utmost caution, like a zebra crossing, but the riders now know that the motorists have received advance warning of their movements. There will always be a small percentage of reckless drivers who you can’t cater for, but the system works well and is a vast improvement.
“I’ve found the Westcotec team very helpful to deal with and extremely knowledgeable in their field. I look forward to rolling out further schemes in
conjunction with West Berkshire Council in order to continue to improve road safety for equestrians in the Valley of the Racehorse.”
For more information about this or any of Westcotec’s signs, please call 01362 853124 or email [email protected]