Tuesday, 18 January 2022

Pedestrian crossing and bollards to improve safety

ROAD safety improvements could be made in Whitchurch high street.

The parish council is in talks with Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, about installing bollards along the pavement in front of the Ferryboat pub and a new pedestrian crossing near the junction with Eastfield Lane.

Members would like two trials to be carried out in order to show if the bollards would be effective.

The first trial would involve giving priority to traffic coming from the south as the street narrows to a single lane, where there are “Give way” markings at both ends so there is no clear priority for drivers.

The parish council wants to see whether this would reduce the number of times that two drivers try to enter the single-lane section from opposing directions, which endangers pedestrians as one vehicle usually ends up mounting the pavement.

It says this makes sense as traffic coming from the south has a clearer view of the road ahead anyway.

The other trial would be to set up traffic cones along the verge to mimic bollards.

This would establish whether drivers were willing to reverse for an oncoming vehicle.

The county council has previously ruled out raising the pavement, saying it isn’t wide enough and it would require access to private land at the Ferryboat. Bollards or a raised kerb alone might be feasible but officers must decide whether this would leave enough room for lorries.

A 7.5-tonne weight limit applies so lorry drivers can’t use the village as a shortcut but they are allowed in on genuine business.

Other options could include rumble strips or metal cylinders which would act as a deterrent but could still be driven over.

Any barrier would need to leave enough space for people in wheelchairs or parents with prams.

The trials would take place in the spring as long as there is a budget available.

Meanwhile, the parish council says a pedestrian crossing would particularly benefit parents and children attending the primary school at the far end of Eastfield Lane.

A stretch of road outside the Greyhound is considered to be the best spot.

It could accommodate either an uncontrolled crossing or a £20,000 zebra crossing, which would be funded by statutory contributions from housing developers.

The parish council will conduct a survey measuring how many people cross the road in that area and at which times of day.

It would speak with the landlords of both pubs in High Street to gauge the impact both schemes would have on their footfall.

Last year, the council was considering an overhaul of parking in High Street, which is currently unregulated apart from advisory white lines, in a bid to reduce both speeding and congestion.

It proposed setting up 24 bays in five distinct blocks and painting double yellow lines everywhere else.

But some villagers opposed this, saying it should wait until a residents’ parking permit scheme could be introduced as commuters using Pangbourne station would abuse the new arrangement.

Even so, a permit scheme would have to wait until South Oxfordshire District Council takes back civil parking enforcement powers from Thames Valley Police, which remains under discussion.

The parish council has put the parking overhaul on hold for the time being.

Chairman Jim Donahue said: “Pedestrian safety has always been highlighted as a concern among residents and with the parking scheme postponed for the time being, this was something else we felt we could do to address it.

“We’re lucky that no one has been seriously hurt but there does seem to be a hazard because there isn’t a raised kerb and the county council has outlined a number of reasons why that can’t be changed.

“Additionally, with no clear priority, you get drivers coming from both directions trying to squeeze through at the same time, which they really shouldn’t do as it gives them no choice but to drive on the pavement.

“As long as the trials go well, we’d like to have any measures in place by the end of the year.

“There’s nothing in the county’s budget right now, which is why even the trials must wait until the new financial year in April, but hopefully that will change.

“There’s not much point doing the trials now anyway because there are so few cars around that it wouldn’t reflect normal conditions. It has to wait until the lockdown is at least partly relaxed.”

The council is also lobbying for the speed limit in the village centre to be reduced from 30mph to 20mph.

The county council has always said that it needed proof that 20mph would not be unreasonably low or too difficult to enforce.

However, last year it said the limit in all “built-up” areas should be 20mph.

The parish council has held preliminary talks with highways officers but nothing has been agreed.

Last year the speed limit through Crays Pond was cut from 40mph to 30mph following a 23-year campaign by Goring Heath Parish Council.

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