Residents are campaigning for restricted access to be enforced on a winding, narrow lane used as a “dangerous” rat-run by motorists, before it’s too late.

After carrying out a traffic survey, members of the newly formed Kingsbridge Hill Area Residents Association (KHARA) reported that nearly three-quarters of traffic turning from The Lamb used Leechwell Street/Kingsbridge Hill as a shortcut either to the Western Bypass or into the town centre.

Ursula Crickmay (left) and Natasha Buck carrying out a traffic survey at Kingsbridge Hill. (Brodie Lea)

The shortcut shaves just seconds off motorists journey as they seek to avoid the fit-for-purpose Cistern Street junction a mere few yards away.

Campaigners fear rat-runners’ are “severely” compromising the safety of the residential lane and that it’s only a matter of time before an accident happens.

Natasha Buck, KHARA chairwoman, said: “The traffic accelerating up Leechwell Street and Kingsbridge Hill to cut a few seconds off their journey has to stop.

“These are narrow residential roads that were never designed for this volume of traffic.

“We have heard from local residents of multiple near misses and accidents waiting to happen including safety incidents involving children and disabled people.

“Unless something is done, we fear that something more serious will happen.”

She added: “I have small children and live at the top of Kingsbridge Hill and I have no choice but to walk on the road while cars and vans come at speed behind us.

“It feels incredibly unsafe and my experience is shared by many people.

“We are calling on Devon County Council to respond to our demands and install a no entry sign at the top of the hill.

“This is a straightforward, pragmatic and cost-effective way of dealing with an issue that is blighting the lives of residents in the area.”

The pavement runs out after the former Kingsbridge Inn, meaning residents of all ages and abilities are forced to walk on the road when they leave and enter their homes.

(Brodie Lea)

As well as posing a risk to pedestrians, traffic racing up and down the hill face the danger of a head-on collision with oncoming traffic.

Sarah Collinson, chairwoman of Inclusive Totnes, supported the campaign, saying: “The county council has a clear duty under the Equality Act and Public Sector Equality Duty to have ‘due regard’ to equality outcomes at all times, particularly in respect of those with protected characteristics.

“Furthermore, as set out in the new Highway Code, pedestrians are at the top of the new ‘hierarchy of road users’ and their safety must come first.”

The proposal has also been backed by Totnes Town Council’s planning committee which recommends approval to full council when it meets on Monday June 6.

KHARA plans to submit a formal evidenced proposal to Devon County Council and seek a meeting with council officers as soon.

Natasha said: “Devon County Council have been aware for many years about the problems caused by rat running up Kingsbridge Hill.

“This should have been dealt with at the same time as the through road was designated so we are now looking to them to correct this historic wrong. It can’t come too soon.”

A county council spokesman said the authority will investigate the suitability of a one-way system at the site once the proposal has been received.

He added: “Road safety schemes must be evidence based with priority given to sites across the county that have a recorded history of injury related collisions.”