Build bridges - they save lives

Julie How­ell is joint co­or­di­na­tor of Peter­bor­ough Green Party

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - SPEAKER’S CORNER -

Pedes­tri­ans and road users have one crit­i­cal thing in com­mon. All make mis­takes. We call the re­sult of their mis­takes ‘ac­ci­dents’. More of­ten than not they are tragic in­ci­dents that could be pre­vented.

In 1971, when Peter­bor­ough was granted ‘new town’ sta­tus, town­ship de­vel­op­ments (Or­ton in par­tic­u­lar) were de­signed to keep pedes­tri­ans and ve­hi­cles sep­a­rate from one an­other. If peo­ple can make jour­neys on foot with­out the need to cross busy roads the chances they will be harmed in a col­li­sion in­volv­ing a ve­hi­cle are dras­ti­cally re­duced.

I grew up in Sur­rey and walked the jour­ney to and from school along the A30. I crossed the road via a foot­bridge. Al­ways. On one oc- ca­sion in 1985, a 14-year-old friend judged it safe to cross that road on foot. A mis­take. A car slowed and waved her across. A sec­ond mis­take. The driver of the car be­hind didn’t see my friend and in­creased in speed to over­take the slow­ing ve­hi­cle. A third and fa­tal mis­take. These three mis­takes in tragic com­bi­na­tion took my friend’s life.

Peter­bor­ough’s ac­ci­dent hotspots are well known (Bridge Street cross­ing, for ex­am­ple), but un­re­ported near misses hap­pen ev­ery day as the vol­ume of traf­fic on lo­cal roads in­creases. One such spot is a cross­ing point where Lynch­wood meets Oun­dle Road and Wis­tow Way. Here, a shared cy­cle path crosses a busy road that res­i­dents of Or­ton North­gate must tra­verse to reach the su­per­mar­ket and pri­mary school in Or­ton Wis­tow on foot. While there is a pedes­trian refuge fur­ther along Lynch­wood it re­quires an ad­di­tional 300 paces (I’ve counted). The com­pul­sion to save time is why mo­torists speed, and why pedes­tri­ans cross dan­ger­ous roads. Call­ing either party reck­less doesn’t pre­vent ac­ci­dents. Res­i­dents tell me they fear a se­ri­ous ac­ci­dent here but the coun­cil will take no ac­tion un­til an ac­ci­dent has hap­pened. Where is the Sec­tion 106 money that de­vel­op­ers should pay the coun­cil for fa­cil­i­ties to make the roads in our com­mu­ni­ties safe?

The so­lu­tion, wher­ever fea­si­ble, is to take pedes­tri­ans away from roads al­to­gether. Through­out Peter­bor­ough bridges did ex­actly this, one su­perb ex­am­ple be­ing Rhubarb Bridge on Bourges Boule­vard that has kept pedes­tri­ans and cy­clists safe for decades. It is gut-wrench­ing to learn that the coun­cil in­tends to re­place Rhubarb Bridge with a se­ries of pedes­trian cross­ings. These will not be as safe as a bridge. There is also grow­ing de­mand for a bridge to be built at Flet­ton Quays. The coun­cil says these bridges are ‘too ex­pen­sive’.

It’s the duty of town plan­ners and the coun­cil to en­sure that our trans­port net­works are de­signed to re­duce pedes­tri­ans’ ca­pac­ity for mis­takes. Pedes­trian cross­ings should be a last re­sort as mis­takes made here can be fa­tal. Wher­ever pos­si­ble we should con­struct routes that keep pedes­tri­ans, cy­clists and ve­hi­cles sep­a­rate. A fa­tal mis­take on the roads is a mis­take you can’t come back from. Build bridges, Peter­bor­ough. They will save lives.

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