Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Pedestrians at risk 12 years after issue raised

A WOMAN claims that pedestrians are risking their lives in a Henley street — 12 years after the

A WOMAN claims that pedestrians are risking their lives in a Henley street — 12 years after the problem was identified by the highways authority.

Lesley Watts says the 30mph speed limit in Gravel Hill, where she lives, is ignored by “boy racers, businessmen, white vans and coaches”.

She wrote to the town council calling for action and attached a letter from Oxfordshire County Council dated November 2004 which identified four “main issues” with the road as follows:

• The pavement by the town hall bus stop is too narrow to allow people to pass easily when waiting and alighting buses.

• The pavement width by No 43 is extremely narrow, making it difficult for people to pass.

• A crossing near Hop Gardens would benefit people living to the north.

• The perceived traffic speeds are high and need to be reduced.

Mrs Watts said: “To the best of my knowledge, none of the issues identified has been addressed or advanced, except perhaps the crossing near Hop Gardens which then wasn’t granted.”

She said the volume of traffic had increased since 2004, especially heavy goods vehicles and coaches.

Mrs Watts continued: “As well as the increase in traffic, the number of pedestrians using the pavements has tripled since I moved here in 1989, especially the number of students walking along an extremely narrow pavement outside Nos 43 and 45.”

She said drivers slowed down by the town hall and then speeded up as they went up the hill, adding: “It is not just in the daytime but traffic coming home long into the evening too.”

Mrs Watts suggested installing a flashing 30mph sign at the junction of Market Place and Gravel Hill. She also asked why school and college coaches did not stop at the coach park at the station.

“There are hordes of students getting off the train — why can’t the ones on the coaches walk from there as well, especially as we are all urged to exercise more?”

David Tole, a highways officer at the county council, said: “In September 2010 there was a speed survey.

“At that time, the average speed westbound, uphill, was 24.4mph and in the other direction it was 25mph. That’s well within what would be acceptable.”

Chris Hulme, traffic management officer at Thames Valley Police, said: “For a 20mph limit, speeding would have to be 24mph or 25mph.

“Putting a speed limit there wouldn’t be enough. You have to change people’s attitudes.

“We had complaints four or five months ago and [Councillor] David Nimmo Smith asked us to carry out ad hoc enforcement, which we did and caught no one as the physical presence deters. I know the last survey was five years ago but it wouldn’t suggest a problem.”

Meanwhile, a call for more traffic-calming measures in Marlow Road has been  rejected.

David Palmer claimed that drivers still broke the speed limit despite the introduction of a flashing 30mph sign.

Mr Palmer, of Swiss Farm, said: “The 30mph sign has had little or no effect… this is an ongoing problem not likely to be resolved without further measures being taken.

“The police have been conspicuous by their absence of late and I suppose we are lucky that they even have the time to bother with catching speeding motorists as this must be pretty low on their priorities.

“As we are unable to have any permanent camera installed, it would appear that speed bumps could be the only option.”

But Councillor David Nimmo Smith, who represents Henley on Oxfordshire County Council and is cabinet member for highways, said a survey carried out last year on a stretch of the road between Henley Rugby Club and Swiss Farm showed speeding was not a problem.

Traffic travelling north had a mean speed of 32mph and the average speed of southbound vehicles was 29mph.

Cllr Nimmo Smith added: “In view of these results, it is unlikely that the county council officers will recommend that additional speed reduction measures be undertaken.”

Mr Hulme said: “I don’t think there is anything we can do. We can’t be there all the time. When we are there people will get caught.”

Mr Tole said: “It’s a road that we know causes some concern but we are trying to keep within the criteria.”

Residents of Swiss Farm have campaigned unsuccessfully for a pedestrian crossing in Marlow Road.

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