Accidents in High Street prompt crossing campaigner to renew plea

Beverley Neal, Lorna Hewlett near the zebra crossing

A Keynsham woman is pleading with council chiefs to make tackling safety at a zebra crossing a priority as part of planned improvements to the High Street following two accidents at the spot in January.

Beverley Neal has renewed her appeals to Bath and North East Somerset Council to review the crossing that leads from Parsons Bakery to the British Heart Foundation’s charity shop, after she was told of two people being knocked down as they crossed the road in two separate incidents last month.

Seven years after she first asked for pedestrian-controlled lights, Ms Neal says she is still “terrified” that there will be a fatality if nothing is done to alter the crossing and is hoping to arrange talks with local councillors and the town’s chamber of commerce.

She said: “Surely traffic lights have got to be the answer but while the council is trying to work it out more people are getting hurt.”

Ms Neal’s campaign began when her own mother was hit by a lorry after she had already walked several steps into the road on the zebra crossing in 2010. Beverley is now her mother’s full-time carer after the incident left Mrs Neal with a permanently detached muscle in her shoulder.  

After she raised the issue in Keynshamvoice in 2014, the council installed anti-skid surfacing but said: “There is good forward visibility to the beacons at the side of the zebra crossing – we don’t think that a puffin crossing would improve forward visibility further or improve road safety at this location.”

But as a member of staff at Parsons Bakery, Beverley’s sister Lorna Hewlett said she still witnesses accidents and near-misses regularly, with paramedics and police called to both of the most recent incidents.

She said: “I don’t know if drivers don’t see people on the crossing but something’s got to be done. I can’t deal with seeing the accidents anymore and hearing the ‘thud’ or the shouts – it’s an awful thing to happen to anyone but I’m so afraid it will be a child one day.

“They put in pedestrian crossings with lights near Iceland at the end of the street – it’s time to have one here. This is where the congestion is and I would have thought they would put one right in the middle of the street. But they haven’t, and this is where the accidents are happening.”

Both sisters say they are hoping that the proposed one-way trial on the High Street, scheduled to begin this spring, will improve safety along the street and that any work as part of the scheme might include a new crossing.

Beverley said: “My fear is there will be a fatality. With two more accidents it couldn’t be plainer to me that something needs to be done.”

An announcement on the trial of a one-way system for traffic, which could last for 18 months, is expected soon, with public consultation to be held throughout the scheme.

The council’s proposed budget for 2017/18 says the authority will seek grant funding towards a £2.5 million scheme to improve public space on the High Street and make the one-way system permanent if it is successful.

A report on the budget proposal, which is due to go to full council on February 14, says “there will be comprehensive public engagement on the merits of the trial and the design options for a permanent scheme”.