Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Pedestrians forced to walk in road by narrow pavement

RESIDENTS are calling for action to be taken over a narrow piece of pavement before it

RESIDENTS are calling for action to be taken over a narrow piece of pavement before it leads to an accident.

Every day scores of people use the pavement at the side of Gravel Hill, Henley, including parents with buggies and elderly people with mobility scooters who can be forced into the road.

Campaigners want the pavement to be widened or for traffic-calming measures to be introduced.

It comes just weeks after a call by Gravel Hill resident Lesley Watts for the street’s 30mph speed limit to be reduced was rejected.

At its narrowest point, the pavement outside No 43 on the left-hand side going up the hill is just 83cm wide, meaning pedestrians have to walk in single file at that point. The surface is also damaged.



Patricia Mulcahy, who lives in nearby Milton Close, said: “It is too narrow for a buggy or wheelchair.

“Fast-moving vehicles coming up the hill can literally graze your hair or shopping bag when there are two vehicles passing in opposite directions.

“Sooner or later the wing mirror of a delivery van is going to connect with the head of a pedestrian. It takes only one car going like a bat out of hell.

“The ideal solution would be to widen the pavement to squeeze traffic into one lane, giving priority to incoming traffic, which tends to be slower than traffic coming up the hill. The county council will say there is no speeding problem but that’s an average. I have been going up and down the road for 30 years and I know there is a speeding problem.”

Mrs Mulcahy also said the condition of pavement made it hazardous, particularly for elderly people.

She said: “I occasionally get my foot stuck in the hole between the kerb and the pavement. You are at risk of twisting your ankle or breaking a bone. It’s well known that a lot of elderly people suffer from being isolated and they’re not being encouraged to go out if the pavement is narrow and dangerous.”

Chelsie McDonagh, 19, who lives in Gravel Hill, said she had struggled to get a buggy past the house at the narrow point in the pavement.

“It’s that narrow and it’s dangerous,” she said. “Sometimes you have to push the buggy into the road.

“There should be a pelican crossing there, which would make drivers slow down.” Adele Colby, 27, who has two children under two, said: “I would not even attempt it with a buggy.

“It would help if the pavement was widened. Henley in general is quite hard to get around with a pram.” Matt Brown, 25, who also lives in Gravel Hill, used to work at The Henley College helping with the disabled students and said he would often struggle to push wheelchairs past the narrowest part of the pavement.

“We would have to go along there in single file rather than walking in the road,” he said. “It’s definitely dangerous.”

When Mrs Watts complained about drivers speeding in Gravel Hill she blamed “boys racers, businessmen, white vans and coaches” and said pedestrians risked their lives.

She said the volume of traffic had increased since she moved to the street in 1989 and the number of pedestrians had soared, particularly students going to and from the college.

But Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, said a speed survey had shown there was not a speeding problem.

David Nimmo Smith, Henley’s county councillor who is responsible for highways, said it might be possible to have a give way point put in the road where the pavement was at its narrowest.

He said: “It would help to slow down traffic and allow the pavement to be built out slightly. I don’t know if it is appropriate, I need to run it past officers.

“With the average speed at 32mph, the council can’t justify doing too much at that point. A crossing can’t be  justified.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email letters@henleystandard.co.uk



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