Jane Morley, our road safety rep, has made a submission to Bromley’s consultation on road safety, based on the responses given at our street stall held in November 2018.
Vision Zero, a Strategy published by London’s Mayor on 24th July 2018 which sets out the way ahead for improving road safety in London, states that no deaths or serious injury on London’s roads should be treated as acceptable or inevitable. Its proposals include 20mph speed limits within the congestion charging zone and a new bus safety standard. In support of the publication of the strategy Chief Superintendent Colin Wingrove of the Met’s Road and Transport Policing Command commented “Excess speed is an undisputed contributor to road collisions in London!”
I have been representing road safety concerns of Penge Forum members on Bromley’s Road Safety Panel for three years. Attached is a summary of a short consultation with pedestrians on Penge High Street carried out in November 2018. Both comments from Penge Forum members and from pedestrians on Penge High Street highlight concern about inappropriate speeds on local roads, and bad driving practice, which is making simple activities such as crossing the road unnecessarily unpleasant.
Inappropriate Traffic Speeds
Penge and Anerley roads are surrounded by areas under the control of Local Boroughs who have adopted 20 mph zones. Not every resident of Penge and Anerley supports such zoned controls on speed. Bromley Councilhas been awaiting the outcome of a survey commissioned by the Department for Transport on the effectiveness of 20mph zones in terms of road safety. This compares a selection of local authorities who use 20mph zones with others who do not. The London Borough selected for the survey does not use 20mph zones.
However we are now split geographically between roads on the south side of Penge High Street which have 20mph speed controls and those on the South side of Penge High Street, equally narrow Edwardian residential roads, which do not.
Congestion at the traffic lights on Penge High Street and at the bottom of Anerley Road has led to numerous alternative routes being used, at in appropriate speeds, such as Thicket Road and Penge Lane, Southey Street and Wordsworth and Raleigh Roads, Kingsdale Road and Torr Road. Residents are advised to note timings and details of regular offenders and to pass the information on to the Traffic Police via our local police station so that patrol cars can be targeted at appropriate times and locations, as and when patrol cars are available.
There are traffic cameras sited locally, equipped with Automatic Number Plate Readers. These pick up stolen vehicles and those which are untaxed etc. They do not detect vehicles which are inarguably putting the lives of local residents at risk by driving at inappropriate speeds.
In addition to putting other road users and pedestrians at risk of injury through accident, driving at excessive speeds and heavy use of brakes adds to air pollution, a major cause of premature death within London.
Bromley’s Road Safety Unit works closely with the police and with local councillors to reduce inappropriate speed on our roads, but Vision 20 is an excellent opportunity to consider whether there is now available technology that can help their efforts. Speed cameras, for example, can now be used to enforce 20mph limits. The Highways Agency can install temporary speed cameras on motorways to ensure safe driving in the event of road repairs, so it should be possible to install temporary speed cameras within areas in Penge and Anerley to encourage safe driving, and then to move them on to subsequent areas. With increasing pressure of demand on the Met and ongoing pressure on the Borough’s manpower costs, technology could provide 24 hr cover where only a piecemeal approach is currently available.
Bad Driving Practice
Many Penge and Anerley residents walk and cycle to work, to school, to the shops. This fits in well with LBBromley’s ambitions for a healthier Bromley. So keeping our pavements safe and our ability to cross the road safely is a high priority.
More publicity about the rules on pavement parking and more enforcement against offenders would not only keep us safer, but save money as fewer kerbs and paving stones would need replacing. Major offenders are delivery van drivers under pressure to meet deadlines. LBBromley should work with other London Boroughs to influence home delivery businesses, from supermarkets to multinationals, to comply with the law.
Congestion at traffic lights encourages pressured motorists to jump amber and red lights, leaving little or no room or time for pedestrians to cross on the green man facility. It is to be hoped that the current requirement for four people to be killed or seriously injured before a traffic light enforcement camera can be installed will be recognised as an outdated and callous requirement. Perhaps a calculation based on pressure of traffic and pedestrian footfall could take its place.
Meeting the Needs of the Differently Abled
There are various parts of Penge and Anerley where it is unnecessarily difficult for wheelchair users to cross the road. For example, where Lennard Road meets Newlands Park there is a dropped kerb for wheelchair users. But the road bends at 90 degrees, and the speed limit is 30mph. Perhaps a good way of assessing suitability of such a facility would be to try it out in a wheelchair first.
Wheelchair users have also reported difficulty in crossing from the north side to the south side of Parish Lane at its junction with Lennard Road. Local residents report that this is also the location of numerous collisions. LBBromley officials have visited the area but been unable to remedy the problem. As the population ages, however, this type of problem looks likely to increase. Virtual speed bumps have been in use for some time. Could LBBromley urgently look into the possibility of their use in locations where residents have highlighted such risks but so far no remedy has been available.
Dropped, tactile kerbs are also meant to be an aid to visually impaired pavement users. It is imperative that if a tactile dropped kerb is installed, it is also kept in a safe state – no cracked, uneven paving – and that the road surface between the two sides of the road is even, so the person using it is not wrong-footed.
Although TFL is responsible for traffic lights in Penge and Anerley, concern has been expressed about the helpfulness of the type provided locally, particularly taking account of the needs of visually impaired users and people who cannot walk as quickly as the young and fit. Could all traffic lights with pedestrian facilities be equipped with “beepers” and the time allowed for crossing take account of local pedestrians’ needs? This would also benefit parents with walking toddlers.
Empowerment through shared information
Following a fatality locally last year it is clear that there is no accessible information on how to report a faulty traffic light. These are TFL’s responsibility. They should be asked to ensure that a contact point is available on traffic lights so that local residents can report problems.
It is also not widely known that when temporary traffic lights are installed they should provide an equivalent service to the lights they are replacing, so if there is a pedestrian facility normally available with permanent traffic lights, a pedestrian facility should be provided with temporary lights. Any failure to do so should be reported to LBBromley for action.
Local residents are a valuable source of information which could help improve London Boroughs’s road safety, but many do not know how to use that information or access information from their local Borough. LBBromley has an excellent and accessible website (TFL’s is not as helpful) and it regularly leaflets Safer Bromley information to every household. More use of these to get road safety messages and contact information across would empower residents.