Friday, 12 August 2022

Parents demand crossing on ‘gauntlet of death’ road

A FATHER has told how he and his daughter were almost knocked down by a car while crossing a Henley

A FATHER has told how he and his daughter were almost knocked down by a car while crossing a Henley road he calls the “gauntlet of death”.

Andrew Bridekirk and Elisia, six, were walking to Badgemore Primary School when a car narrowly missed them on Gravel Hill.

Now the father-of-three has launched a campaign to get a crossing installed at the junction with Paradise Road and Hop Gardens.

Mr Bridekirk, of Leaver Road, said: “Every day we approach this area to cross the road, which is like a gauntlet of death — crossing here is a complete nightmare.

“Just last week we were nearly hit by a car. A car had stopped and was turning right into Paradise Road and we saw the gap and went for it but as it turned, another car came from behind it and just missed us. It actually hit my bag as it went past.

“It was very close and very scary and that’s what prompted me to try to get some action about a crossing.”

Mr Bridekirk, a self-employed film-maker, is married to Miriam and has two other children, Jacob, 10, who attends Valley Road School, and Samuel, two.

He says other schools and The Henley College would benefit from a crossing.

Mr Bridekirk said: “It is not just myself travelling — I often pass other parents going to Valley Road who cross here and there are a lot of college students. The traffic is ridiculously busy and if you’re with a young child and attempting to get to school, it’s just pandemonium and extremely dangerous.”

Mr Bridekirk, who grew up in Henley and attended Sacred Heart Primary School, said drivers should be made aware that children needed to cross the road to get to school.

He said: “I would like to see a pedestrian crossing. Drivers need to see that you’re there and that you have a right of way whereas at the moment they seem to think that they have a right of way and that children don’t have a right to get to school safely.”

He was supported by fellow Badgemore parents.

Claire Wilson, of Deanfield Road, whose son Nicholas, six, attends the primary, said: “The road is really busy in the mornings and you can wait for up to 30 minutes just to cross the road. It is not so bad when you are on your own but when you are with a child it can take longer because he doesn’t want to cross as it is scary.”

Kate Makkar, whose daughter Tilly, four, attends the school, added: “It is a nightmare — cars seem to come from everywhere. It would be nice to have a crossing or lollipop man.”

School governor Richard Fraser, whose children Angus, five, and Beatrice, seven, attend the school, said: “It is a very complicated junction. People come down the hill from a country road and find they are suddenly in Henley and they are doing 40mph or 50mph.”

Headteacher Melanie Carruthers said: “Lots of parents have come to me to say that it is a very busy road and they do find it quite challenging getting their children across. We have tried very hard to get a crossing on that particular stretch of road and it was part of a travel plan but unfortunately there just wasn’t the money for that.”

Mrs Carruthers said that with the school due to expand, the need for a crossing would be greater.

She said. “We are growing from about 100 to nearly 200 pupils so it will be even more essential to invest in getting children to school safely.”

An Oxfordshire County Council spokesman said: “The council receives scores of applications every year for road safety measures. When considering how to prioritise proposals, the council must take into account a range of factors such as accident history.

“There have been zero accidents involving a pedestrian recorded in the past five years in the vicinity of where campaigners would like a crossing on Gravel Hill, so there are no plans for a crossing.”

Nearby Sacred Heart School has been fighting for a £50,000 pedestrian crossing in Greys Road for more than five years but the county council says the road’s accident record doesn’t justify it.

In December, plans to install a pelican crossing in Marlow Road were abandoned following months of campaigning by residents of Swiss Farm and the town council, which had agreed to contribute £30,000 towards the cost. The county council said the road’s accident record didn’t justify a crossing or the cost.

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