The scene of another road accident, this time a fatal one, on the A22 Godstone Road in the early hours of Saturday, is now a matter of dispute between local residents, cyclists, Mayor Boris Johnson and his cycling “advisor” Andrew Gilligan.
Steve O’Connell, the local councillor for Kenley and London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, is pushing through a scheme for a traffic island near the junction of Hayes Lane, which the Croydon Cycling Campaign says will make the busy road more dangerous and could even cost someone their life.
A petition was set up by local residents more than a year ago calling for a proper pedestrian crossing: “We, the undersigned, are concerned about the lack of a proper, safe crossing for pedestrians across the busy A22 Godstone Road between Kenley (Norfolk Parade, CR8 5AA) and Riddlesdown Common. We call upon the Mayor of London, Transport For London, and Croydon Council to provide a safe crossing solution for our community.”
But what TfL is planning to place on this site, with the backing of O’Connell and London Mayor Boris Johnson, is nothing more than a mid-road pedestrian “refuge” – something which the photograph on the petition page illustrates is far from safe for pedestrians on a stretch of road where motorists are often speeding.
“Bicycling Boris” has become notorious since first elected London Mayor in 2008 of avoiding any action which might deter motorists using their cars, or intended to slow down car traffic – however dangerous, as the Croydon Cycling Campaign’s coverage of the dangerous Mitcham Road has shown.
Austen Cooper, of the Croydon Cycling Campaign, has written to Steve O’Connell, plus Jenny Jones, the Green party AM who is deputy chair of the police and crime committee, and to Andrew Gilligan, the mayor’s recently appointed capital cycling expert, following the fatal crash on Godstone Road in the early hours of Saturday.
In the incident, at around 4am, two pedestrians were hit by a car. One of the victims, a woman in her 40s, was pronounced dead at the scene while the other, was taken to hospital. The car driver was today released on bail.
Cooper is concerned that the TfL proposals for a traffic island on this stretch of road will make it no safer for pedestrians, and is convinced that it would make the road much more dangerous for cyclists.
“My reading of what the Mums’ Campaign want is a proper crossing, not a modified pedestrian refuge,” Cooper said.
TfL is supposed to begin work on the pedestrian refuge imminently. “Rushing through that scheme – TfL have already planned to do what they want regardless of the consultation outcome – won’t do anybody any good,” said Cooper in his letter.
“The death on Saturday of a pedestrian in a car crash on Godstone Road, less than half a mile away from this junction, will hardly reassure local people that TfL and the police are doing anything to make the A22 safer, particularly when speeding has long been known to be rife there, as found by local crossing campaigners and the local police.”
Cooper has called for an urgent site visit by O’Connell, Jones and Gilligan – by bike – to see the road for themselves. He believes that cameras would be the best method to keep motorists to less dangerous speeds.
“The attached picture, which I took yesterday afternoon, neatly illustrates cyclists’ concerns. A widened pedestrian refuge diverts traffic into the space a cyclist would normally ride. At best this would be unnerving, at worst, someone could be injured or killed,” he wrote.
“I’d like to see Jenny, Andrew and Steve do as I did yesterday, and cycle along this particular stretch of road. That’s the best way to understand cyclists’ concerns, and to quickly and easily visit the pedestrian crossings that have been installed elsewhere on this red route.”
But despite the apparent dangers, highlighted by Saturday’s fatal crash, and calls to do a site visit, O’Connell remains keen to push ahead with the traffic island. “I’m afraid that personally I do not want the implementation of this scheme delayed, and nor do I believe do the Mum’s Campaign,” was O’Connell’s latest response to the Croydon cyclists.
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