Posts Tagged road safety

Madras Place: action long overdue

So often when I meet residents impatient for action, it comes down to delays or indifference from TfL. That certainly seems to be the case at Madras Place, N7.

This is the dangerous crossing over the Holloway Road from St Mary Magdalen church to the Central Library and Fieldway Crescent. It’s a busy point for cyclists and pedestrians to get from the west side of Islington to Highbury Fields and beyond. It’s also where Lisa Pontecorvo was killed, wheeling her bicycle across the road, last year.

My colleague Caroline Pidgeon has been helping out by tabling various questions to Mayor Boris – here’s the latest exchange.

Junction of Fieldway Crescent/Holloway Road/Madras Place , Islington

Question No: 3344 / 2009

Caroline Pidgeon

Can you explain why it is taking so long for TfL to make any improvements to safety at the junction of Fieldway Crescent/Holloway Road/Madras Place following the first anniversary of the tragic death of community activist Lisa Pontecorvo?

Answer from the Mayor:

I appreciate that the length of time it is taking to progress what appear to be simple changes to the layout and operation of the junction of Holloway Road/Madras Place and Fieldway Crescent is frustrating. The timelines involved are partly due to the nature and complexity of the Transport for London Road Network and the need to balance the competing demands and priorities of all users, at both the local and strategic level. This is particularly the case at this junction, where the needs of cyclists and pedestrians crossing Holloway Road not only need to be balanced against the vehicular traffic travelling along the corridor, but also against each others’ desires to cross the road.

TfL has now developed six options providing the most appropriate changes at this junction given these competing demands on the network. Further work is required to narrow these to a preferred option(s), to take forward for more detailed development.

Acknowledging the complexities involved in delivering schemes on such a strategically important and heavily congested road network, I note that in some cases scheme delivery has taken longer than it should. TfL is continuing to take steps to address these issues and has reviewed the activities being undertaken across the business with the aim of streamlining and integrating processes to drive improvements in delivery.

As answers go, this one is heavy with jargon, but light on real action. Islington residents are less interested in streamlining and integrating processes, and more interested in getting across the road in one piece.

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Accident on Pentonville Road

I’ve just got word of another accident involving a pedestrian trying to cross the road.

This time it happened at the junction of Pentonville Road and Penton Rise where a number 30 bus apparently collided with a 14 year old girl, presumably on her way home from school.

I’m told that the girl is at UCLH and is waiting for X-rays and scans and that the police are doing a full investigation.

This is little more than a month from another serious accident on Essex Road.

And many months after the Clerkenwell councillors first raised the dangerous state of the Penton Rise junction for pedestrians and cyclists alike.

Boris talks a lot about safety, but what we need at Penton Rise is action!

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Cyclists should be allowed to run red lights, says Boris

That’s according to the Evening Standard.

The headline is more dramatic than the story; it’s not all red lights that Boris is talking about, but turning left on a red light. If the red light is for traffic going one-way, say east-west, then the cyclist will be joining the north-south flow, and should not conflict with east-west pedestrians who will also have a red light. So it could work.

The Mayor of London can’t actually change the law on cycling through red lights – that would take national government action – but he is certainly provoking debate. As one cyclist comments in the ES, “Traffic lights are not there because people think they are fun, they are there for safety reasons.” Sanctioning breaking laws that don’t suit you is a slippery slope (and yes, I know Lib Dems have taken a stand on ID cards) and you have to have a very clear rationale.

I don’t have a problem with the left-turn idea, where there’s no conflict with pedestrians. But I don’t know how many lives it will save. After all, many of the fatal accidents involving cyclists and large vehicles occur when the cyclist is going straight ahead, but the vehicle is turning left. And Lisa Pontecorvo was killed wheeling her bike across the road.

My bane is cyclists ignoring zebra crossings and red lights at pelicans. There’s no way there’s any safety argument for that; simply an unwillingness to stop or slow down for pedestrians.

I suspect that Boris’ big idea isn’t about practicalities but about positioning. It’s a way to appear cycle-friendly while passing the buck to the Government.

Meanwhile, one thing the Mayor could do, as soon as he likes, is get rid of the ubiquitous railings which trap cyclists and pedestrians alike at junctions – like the exciting plans for Oxford Circus.

No change in the law required. So what are you waiting for, Boris?

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Tribune picks up our crossings campaign

Good coverage in the Islington Tribune for our crossings campaign.

Some roads already have the green man on for barely 5 seconds, which is bad enough, without Boris threatening to reduce it further.

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London Region Lib Dem conference

I didn’t get to our regional conference yesterday as I had another busy day in Islington.

I hared off early for a breakfast time photo op at Highbury Corner about road safety: Boris wants to reduce the time we have to cross main roads, and we’re not happy about it. Lots of support from passers by! And a chance to talk to the folk already starting to queue at the Post Office.

Back to work, then out again for a lunchtime photo op about bus fumes with residents in Holloway. After work I dropped by the Town Hall to join the huge numbers of people saying farewell to Islington’s popular head of social services, Paul Curran, who is retiring. Then off for canvassing in Barnsbury – very positive response – ending up with a campaign team meeting. Phew!

Anyway, thanks to the joys of Twitter, by reading the #londonld hashtag, I can catch up on the highlights I missed.

Party President Ros Scott told members there was now nothing to choose between the Labour and Conservative parties.

Then Vince Cable spoke about how the Lib Dems were the only party to warn of the impending economic crisis, getting “something very big, very right”. He told the banks to start lending and stop abusive payments. And he argued that Labour could implode after selling their soul to the bankers. The financial crisis “merits a wartime mobilisation of resources” but the Government isn’t spending money allocated to social housing. He concluded that the Lib Dems are gaining real traction & other parties’ support is weakening.

All of which is pretty much what voters in Barnsbury were telling me!

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On your marks!

Not very impressed with Boris’ latest wheeze.

He’s reducing the pedestrian time at crossings, and proposing to console us with a countdown telling us how long we have left.
First it’s postmen having to trot around London, and now it’s the rest of us.

There are already pedestrian crossings in Islington where you have barely 5 seconds to get across the road.

I’m not against countdowns at crossings. They’re used in central Amsterdam at busy pedestrian crossings, where there are also trams and cyclists in transit. But in Amsterdam the countdown is on the red phase, telling pedestrians how long they have to wait, a bit like countdown at bus stops. Altogether more pedestrian-friendly than a countdown on green, telling you you’ve run out of time to cross. Surely that’s what the flashing green sign is for anyway?

It’s obviously a while since Boris got off his bike and walked about. What happens when the countdown gets to zero and you are still wheeling your shopping trolley or pushchair across?

I know the Olympics are coming, but this is ridiculous.

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Not always good to talk….

Dramatic photos this week of the car that ended up in a Barnsbury basement – just round the corner from where I used to live. It’s not what you expect from a Volvo driver.

Amazingly no-one was killed.

Now it turns out that the driver was using his mobile phone at the time. I’ve seen three drivers (all men as it happens) on the blower while at the wheel in just the last couple of weeks. I didn’t report them, but maybe we should? It’s not a victimless crime. RoSPA report that people are still being killed as a result.

Lib Dem MP Tom Brake (no pun intended) has been asking questions about the number of prosecutions for driving while using a mobile – on average about ten a week across London, and 11 a year in Islington. Full stats here.

Meanwhile, it seems the car-in-basement scenario has happened before. Even to the police.

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