A road safety audit (RSA) into the proposed pedestrian crossing in the High Street in Sandy, near to St Swithun’s Primary School, has been carried out. It reveals a number of flaws which give rise to serious concern at the choice of location for the crossing. The experts carrying out the RSA included a specific recommendation that the crossing should be moved away from the junction on the High Street with St Swithun’s Way and the two branches of Ivel Road.
To read the RSA reports for yourself please click here:
The main areas of concern are:
The site visit was carried out on a Thursday between 10.00 am and 10.35 am rather than in the morning or afternoon when the children and their carers are going to or going home from school; the focus of the report is around the school so why has such little attention been paid to the needs of its children and their parents?
This is particularly pertinent as Central Bedfordshire Council, (CBC) which is managing the project, has a Duty of Care as the crossing’s installers both as the Highway and Education Authorities. It is noted that the survey was carried out by members of Essex County Council and Contractors based in Essex which indicates a lack of knowledge of this busy junction on a main road through Sandy.
No validated personal injury collision data/history was provided and it was recommended that it should be. CBC’s response was that ‘they were working on a system to get data’ but could not obtain it to provide as part of the safety audit response. What accident statistics – not just injury –were used to arrive at the final decision? Photographic evidence of a vehicle crashing through railings at 61 High Street exists; exactly on the spot where the crossing as proposed is to be sited. 5 year validated personal injury collision data should be provided. The RSA states ‘Validated collision data should be passed to the audit team for independent review’; has it been and, if so, where can it be viewed?
The submission from the Police to the Traffic Management Meeting (TMM) referred to problems of speeding on the High Street with an average speed measured over one week as being at 25 mph. The Police reported that the community has raised excess speed concerns with request for action to ensure compliance. The RSA makes no reference to this and appears to rely on traffic complying with the limit. The Fire Station also commented that siting the crossing right on the corner where their emergency vehicles exit into the High Street would not be their preference. No reference is made in the RSA to the concerns of either of these statutory emergency services; why not?
While suggesting traffic flow from Ivel Road is ‘very low’, this may be the case at 10.00 – 10.30 am, the time of the survey, but it is not the case when the children are going to and from school. As importantly is the amount of congestion – not mentioned in the RSA – when parents and carers are accompanying children to and from school. Parents’ cars mingle with pedestrians with both then coping with through traffic on its way to or from Potton. In addition, there are commuters cars that park in Ivel View, off Ivel Road, and when they are all in a hurry to exit Ivel Road at the end of their day, they accelerate out of Ivel Road but by the time their heads have turned from looking right for a gap in traffic from the Potton direction to look forward in the direction they are going, they will, inevitably, be right on top of the crossing. It was a vehicle accelerating out of Ivel Road that collided with the railings at 61 High Street as mentioned above. What statistics have been used to assess the flow of traffic in and out of Ivel Road as being ‘low’?
It is worth reiterating that traffic exiting Ivel Road has two junctions with the High Street to choose from. What investigations have been carried out to check this effect might be having on the volume of traffic exiting the road with Q’s by the school entrance?
Mention is made of the desire line but nowhere is this defined or has an explanation of the term been provided by CBC in the context of the existing crossing point. A number of parents and children choose to walk along St Swithun’s Way and then turn through Rectory Court on their way to school to avoid walking beside the High Street where traffic, including heavy HGVs, is travelling close by them, notwithstanding the speed limit that is not obviously enforced. This is both intimidating and exposes them to pollution from exhaust fumes. A number of parents indicated that if the crossing were to be moved towards Rectory Court, they would prefer to walk that way too. These points were made to the TMM but the RSA does not address them; why not?
For pedestrians exiting Rectory Court, the desire line is straight across the road where the pavements on either side of the High Street are wider so allowing for the inevitable ‘crowding together’ of groups of people waiting to cross the road. Why has this option apparently not been investigated, taking advantage of current thinking? The current ‘line’ was, presumably, chosen by the long since defunct Mid Beds Council which perhaps explains why reference is made to the absence of any earlier reports. Where are the facts to confirm that this remains the correct location based on all the circumstances and the current traffic flows etc?
There is no evidence that all the representations made to the TMM that confirmed the scheme should proceed have been studied as part of the RSA. Surely they should be considered and assessed then commented on in the final report?