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Bonkers Blog February 2017

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4 February (Part 1) - Accidents by design

CollisionLBC radio alerted me to Abbey Road, Belvedere being blocked yesterday in their 3:30 traffic report, so I dropped what I was doing to take a look. Publication of the photograph has been delayed because of the remote possibility that members of the families involved might have seen it before being officially notified of the accident.

As I approached a lady said I would not be able to take photographs because she - or maybe it was someone she had been with - was made to delete their images by the police. If true it would be totally illegal but when I arrived on the scene all the police officers were on their very best behaviour.

The accident must have happened quite some time earlier as there was only the one ambulance car present and the inevitable casualties had been taken away. The police were waiting for their RTA investigators to come which they did just before 15:40.

The road is notorious for occasional extreme speeders and overtakers prepared to pass on the wrong side of a Keep Left. It is encouraged to some extent by TfL and Bexley Council who arrange for bus stops opposite Keep Lefts thereby causing unnecessary road blocks. There is a bus stop no more than six feet to the left of the white car.

Bashford Bexley Council made the road much narrower back in 2009. Their Traffic Engineer Andrew Bashford claimed - and I know it is a lie - to have followed the design principles laid down in Transport Research Laboratory reports 641 (Psychology and Perception) and 661 (Manual for Streets).

Mr. Bashford is a very unlucky man; my son worked for TRL at the time and had a hand in publishing those reports. He sent me copies and I sent him Andrew Bashford's comments to me. He said they were “meaningless”. I think he meant meaningless drivel.

The TRL reports said roads could be safely narrowed but only if the psychology of driving is understood and the design took full account of it. Various ideas are floated by TRL and Mr. Bashford had applied none of them. He had simply narrowed the road and walked away to continue road wrecking in other parts of the borough. I don't believe he looked at the reports at all.

My son said that narrow roads are inherently more dangerous that wider ones because they leave less space for taking avoiding action. A statement of the obvious if ever there was one. Without appropriate psychological measures they are “a recipe for head on collisions”. The wreckage of the last head on collision in Abbey Road has still not been removed.

Councillor John Davey who represented Lesnes Abbey ward at the time and is not nearly as daft as his occasionally bumbling demeanour suggests wrote in an email to me that he was not certain he believed Andrew Bashford either. Mr. Bashford clearly knows very little about designing in safety but the biggest idiots of all are those prepared to do 60 or more along Abbey Road.


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