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Bonkers Blog January 2019

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24 January - More on Bexley’s transport issues. Narrowed roads, long drawn out reconstruction and accidents

Even though the police failed to get in from far flung Lewisham to give their report and the Youth Council had not submitted any questions to the Committee and had found more interesting things to do on the night, there was more to last week’s Transport Users’ meeting than bikes and buses and trains.

Road Safety and road works were also discussed.

As has been stated before reliable accident statistics are hard to come by because the police have changed the way their seriousness is assessed but the official best guess is that Bexley does well when measured against other London boroughs. Whilst it can only be an estimate it looks as though Bexley may have a achieved a 23% reduction in serious injuries and fatalities (KSI) from 2016 to 2017. A bigger reduction than any other London borough apart from Havering although it hides an uncomfortably high number of KSIs in 2015 without which Bexley would not have shown such a big improvement in later years.

In 2017 two people were killed in Bexley, 55 seriously injured and 533 slightly injured. Pedestrians were by a long way at most risk throughout the whole of London. Collisions with cars obviously.

Naturally the cyclists’ representative chipped in to blame motorists for all ills on the roads and advocated widespread use of 20 m.p.h. limits. Councillor Seymour (Conservative, Crayford) put the counter arguments and related poor behaviour by cyclists.

As usual on transport matters it was left to Councillor Stefano Borella (Labour, Slade Green & North End) to inject some sense into the discussion. Pedestrians with phones glued to their ears was he suggested a factor in the accident toll. He also said that “when designing roads systems there should be plenty of space”. (It was Bexley’s insistence on designing out road space in contravention of Transport Research Laboratory recommendations that led to the creation of this blog.)

The clergyman, Rob Radcliffe, a vicar from Erith, complained about footpath cyclists approaching silently and offering abuse if one doesn’t jump out of the way promptly. Being a guest on the Committee he is presumably unaware of the convention that cyclists must be treated with reverence and the Political Correctness that is their right.

He additionally complained about what he called elderly buggy users going far too fast on the pavement. Their attitude is “that like cyclists they feel they have an automatic right of way over pedestrians. I have received a fair bit of abuse off them because I did not move as fast out of their way than they thought I should have done. It is not just car drivers who require education”.

Councillor June Slaughter (Conservative, Sidcup) took up a similar theme. “Young mums walking with children in buggies who are too busy looking at their phone.”

The cyclist asked about the accident in which Brian Barnett died when his electric bike encountered a lorry. Did anyone know anything about it? The Council Officer Mark Bunting said the police had provided a report but he could not remember what it said. “I wouldn’t want to try to remember it. It was a detailed response.”

So the Head of Road Safety in Bexley has one cycling fatality on his patch in a year and he cannot remember what the police report said. Words fail etc.

In connection with the Bronze Age Way cycle accident the Chairman said it was “the worst kept secret” that of Bexley’s 30 speed camera sites only three were actually equipped with cameras and “they were not moved around very often”.

Harrow manorwayMr. Andrew Bashford made a few comments on current major road works. The Harrow Manorway flyover which was scheduled for completion last June, then mid-December according to a Councillor who enquired of him and then early January are now “nearing completion”. Mr. Bashford acknowledged that he had been saying the same thing for a long time.

The delays were caused by the bridge joints, delays with the TfL provision of bus shelters - they went a whole six weeks doing nothing - and the pedestrian crossing signals which are now operational but switched off until the eastern footpath is opened. Until its staircase and the bus shelter become usable there is little use for that footpath and the stairs cannot be reopened until Gayton Road is rebuilt.

Work on Gayton Road started ten months late but is now progressing well. Work on Felixstowe Road should commence in late February which makes the start date 15 months behind the original schedule.

The reconstruction of Harrow Manorway itself, now on course to be completed a whole year late has been delayed by both Thames Water and Southern Gas Networks “causing vast areas to be left open”.

The plan to further exacerbate traffic congestion in Bexley Village by narrowing various roads in the vicinity of Hartford, Thanet and Hurst Roads at each end of the village will start at the next school half term and continue for three weeks beyond that. The Chairman suggested that villagers might like to consider going on holiday for the duration.

The Mayplace Road West/Erith Road junction in Bexleyheath (that’s the one just south of the bus garage) will have its little used left hand slip road removed and the traffic lights retimed.

As regular readers will know my son is an adviser to governments and others on vehicle and road safety issues and I spent last weekend with him. He had been studying the effectiveness of crash helmets. The message that came through loud and clear is that a properly rated helmet should always be worn as the details of some of the accidents studied were stomach churning.

One in particular sticks in my mind. Video showed a cyclist hitting a car side on that emerged from a side road. No one was going fast. The first thing that happened was that his helmet flew off. The message was not just wear a helmet but do it up tightly. The young man involved is now a seriously brain damaged paraplegic in a wheel chair for life.

And in another change of direction, I never get to see the News Shopper these days, but on a rare trip to Orpington I picked up a copy of The Mercury. In it was an article by Bexley’s Transport expert Stefano Borella, so to make sure it is seen outside Orpington, here is it…
The Mercury
The by line makes it look as though Stefano has found favour with Jeremy Corbyn.


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