Friday, 6 September 2013

Why We Support A Pedestrian Crossing On Kilnsea Drive

By Anthony Vick

Clive Jones pleased the Council finally
cut back the hedge on Kilnsea Drive,
improving visibility and safety.
Some people have questioned our reasons for supporting a pedestrian crossing on 
Kilnsea Drive, so I thought it may be worthwhile outlining the reasons why we support it.

Firstly, let me start by saying that we think encouraging families and children to walk to school is a good thing: it reduces traffic on our congested roads, relieves parking tension in school areas, and provides good exercise, amongst other things.

Why are we concerned with safety on Kilnsea Drive?

Over the years we've received requests from householders and families living alongside Kilnsea Drive to find ways of reducing the speed of traffic, and to make it safer for children crossing the road on their way to school. This came to ahead when a child was nearly hit by a speeding car whilst trying to cross the road and his mum asked for my help.

Naturally I wanted to help, so I helped arrange a petition asking Wokingham Council to look in to the problem; the petition was carefully worded so as to leave the Council's options open, we asked them too consider all types of traffic calming measures including: lollipop ladies, signs, pedestrian crossings and more.

Why don't they use the crossing by the shops?

The simple, honest answer is because it's not the direct route to the school and for families with young children it's a major detour: think 
pre-school children aged 3 years and children refusing to walk while their parents are carrying all of their school gear!.

What happened after we submitted the petition

I, along with local parents, worked hard to collect more than 400 signatures and went along with a local mum to present it to Wokingham Borough Council at a full council meeting.

Following the presentation of the petition, we had a meeting with Wokingham's Highway's department and its Tory leadership to discuss the problems, we repeated our request for measures to reduce traffic speed and improve safety when crossing the road, we suggested many, many options, including: safety havens in the centre of the road, chicanes to slow the traffic, humps & bumps, 
narrowing the road, signs saying "school children crossing", lollipop ladies and more. 

At the meeting we were told the only option was a pedestrian crossing, and following a subsequent traffic survey we were told only a full scale pedestrian crossing would do. Frankly we think this nonsense, but Wokingham's traffic engineers were clear & firm on the point, the rule book says the only thing they can provide in these circumstances is a pedestrian crossing. Crazy, no? Clearly either the rulebook or it's interpretation isn't quite right.

What we support

So, when we say we support a pedestrian crossing it should be understood that we would prefer something far simpler & cheaper, but we are not being given the option.

What we have achieved

Visibility where school children cross, taken
before the hedge was cut back thanks to
our efforts.
To date, probably the best thing that came out of our all hard work is that the Council finally cut back the hedge on the corner where everyone crosses - which has improved visibility & safety when crossing the road ten fold - unfortunately the Council wouldn't agree to add the cutting of the hedge to a regular maintenance rota. 

1) A request for the hedge to be cut back was made as part of the petition submission and subsequently repeatedly requested by Clive Jones until action was taken.
2) It should also be noted that following a request for funding by Clive Jones the pedestrian crossing was debated by Earley Town Council and added to its infrastructure wish list. 
3) Earley's Tory Councillors now claim to support our policy for a pedestrian crossing on Kilnsea Drive but have taken no proactive action as yet.

What  next

We will continue to put pressure on local Councils to improve road safety on Kilnsea Drive. We have convinced Earley Town Council to add a pedestrian crossing to its infrastructure wish list, with support from Tory Councillors who are playing lip service to the idea of a crossing if nothing else, but in truth improvements to road safety or the provision of a pedestrian crossing look a long way off.

Final thoughts...

Earley contributes massively to Wokingham Council's tax pot but seems to receive very little in return, while the Council spends £Millions on the Town's regeneration and £thousands on additional perks for councillors, Earley receives....? I'll keep my fingers crossed for a pedestrian crossing.