Walker crossings – not enough, in the wrong place?
What’s the problem?
You can’t get across a busy road and it’s a long way to the nearest crossing? Want to know what the Council should be doing and how you argue for more crossings in your neighbourhood? Read on.
Different kinds of crossing
The main types of pedestrian crossing, and the rough cost to install them are:
- Green man phases at traffic lights – £125,000 if all new lights are needed, £45,000 to add to existing lights.
- Separate crossings with traffic lights – pelicans and puffins – £45,000.
- Refuges (islands) in the middle of the road – £15,000.
- Kerb buildouts to make the road narrower and so easier to cross – £15,000.
- Humps across the mouth of side roads to give walkers more priority when they cross – £10,000.
- Dropped kerbs (ramps) at both sides of the road, to make it easier for people with walking difficulties, or with prams or in wheelchairs, to cross £5,000.
How the Council currently decides where to put crossings
The Council currently uses a national formula to decide where to put new crossings. This basically means that new crossings are mainly installed on main roads with a lot of traffic and quite a lot of pedestrians. Sites nearer schools and old people’s homes score extra points, as do those where there has been a crash involving a pedestrian. Even quite busy roads like Yeaman Place in Polwarth are not busy enough to justify a crossing under this formula. The distance to the next available crossing is not taken into account.
In order to meet concerns about visibility, and/or because of accesses to buildings, and/or because of phone or electricity cables in the pavement, even if a crossing is installed, it is not always put at the location where you really want to cross.
In 2014/15 the Council has a budget of £245,000 for crossings away from traffic light junctions, and £400,000 for improving traffic light junctions, which includes adding green man phases at the lights where there are none at the moment. This compares to a budget of £1,488,000 for new cycle schemes, and £500,000 for bus priority and bus shelters.
In 2013/14 the Council installed 3 new puffin (traffic light) crossings, 6 refuges and one kerb buildout. It plans about the same for 2014/15, although there were some 45 requests for new crossings.
What the law and the Council’s own policy says it should be doing
The Council has a duty to manage the roads to improve road safety and this is why they have a budget for new crossings. The law does not say how many they should install or how much they should spend. The Equality Act says the Council should make reasonable adjustments to the street environment to ensure that disabled people are not disadvantaged, and should show that it has thought about this and consulted on it.
To be added – something on trends in pedestrian killed and seriously injured casualties compared to casualties overall, if there is a negative difference.
The Council’s Local Transport Strategy says that pedestrians are high priority road users and that it wishes to encourage walking. Its Active Travel Action Plan says that the Council will:
- increase levels of walking through the design and promotion of better facilities;
- improve the walking environment through new projects and maintenance;
- ensure the pedestrian environment is accessible to all; and
- make walking trips connected, without difficult road crossings.
In other areas like buses, cycling and speed limits, the Council has not followed a national formula to decide what to build. It does not wait until there are hundreds of cyclists before building a bike path; it puts in bus lanes at places where there are not major delays to buses; it did not wait until almost everyone was driving slowly before it decided to introduce a 20mph speed limit. So why should it be any different for pedestrian crossings? The Council needs a policy-led approach to installing crossings – if it really wants to encourage more walking like it says it does, it needs to install more crossings to make people feel safer walking.
What you can do
Write to your Councillors and Neighbourhood Office, copying to your MSP if you want.
You can find your local Neighbourhood Partnership here
You can find all these details of you councillors and MSP’s here – https://www.writetothem.com/