Thursday, 30 January 2014

Zebra crossings - do they make the streets safer?

Abbey Road zebra crossing - pic from BBC News

Above the famous Abbey Road zebra crossing.  Due to concerns about road safety, parents of the Fircroft Primary School are calling for a zebra crossing to be installed on Glenburnie Road.  Near the school there are the results of previous 'road safety' interventions, including a raised table and speed humps.

But, do they work?

On crossings, our Labour MP asked a question in parliament recently which highlighted that of the 70 people killed whilst walking in London last year (from someone driving into them in a vehicle) 26% were killed whilst on a crossing.  The other interventions around Fircroft Primary School clearly haven't been enough. The road danger is still clearly felt by those who send their children to school there.

For the families of those killed last year on crossings, and those seriously injured, the crossing provided no protection at all.

In case there is any doubt, I'm totally in favour of creating safer streets. I'm fully supportive of the parents calling on the council to take action to reduce road danger.

However, for me this is the key question that needs to be asked and answered:

What is the principle source of danger on our roads? 

Until we agree on the source of danger, and agree that action needs to be taken to reduce that danger, danger will remain.

For me, the source of danger is people driving irresponsibly, both too fast for the conditions, and without due care for those around them. I feel that we should reduce the opportunities people have to drive irresponsibly, creating safer streets to the benefit of everyone.

I've been petitioning around Tooting to pilot measures, such as those shown below. They have been implemented across Hackney over many years to great success.

Thanks to Rachel Aldred for this picture - Glyn Road in Hackney
There are local examples of similar things which have been done in Wandsworth.

On Welham Road (SW16) it's not the easiest to cycle through, it works better when people haven't parked their cars right up next to it.

 Or a better example where Elmfield Road meets Bedford Hill.

Just off St John's Hill, where Nantes Close motorised through access has been cut to Harbut Road.

By piloting such schemes, we can see how local people will react to them in terms of how they travel through and around Tooting. They've been done before locally, and people adapted. I think few people who live on those streets today would like them to become rat-runs. A number of people are of the opinion that piloting further schemes will cause more congestion. The evidence from other parts of London suggests that this will not be the case. In fact believe it or not, in Wandsworth the amount of distance driven over the past decade has actually decreased.

One thing is clear though, if we don't try it on other streets, we'll never know how it might work in these other locations.

1 comment:

  1. 100% with you on the rat-running removal - this kind of through driving also reduces the value of 20mph Zones.

    I will be posting about zebras at some point this year (I need to get out to grab some photos) as it is 80 years of the Belisha. I like zebras, but they need to be designed properly and appropriate for the location!