Family calls for action on Keynsham High Street zebra crossing

Published on: 07 Nov 2014

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A Keynsham family say they fear it will take a fatal accident to get changes made to what they believe is a dangerous zebra crossing at the heart of Keynsham High Street.

Beverley Neal has been calling for the crossing from the British Heart Foundation shop to Parsons Bakery to be replaced with pedestrian-controlled lights for four years after her mother Patricia Neal was knocked down by a lorry as she used the zebra crossing in 2010.

She has repeated her appeal over the years following other incidents at the spot and, following two recent incidents, has been prompted to step up her calls again to Bath and North East Somerset Council to make changes.

The council has said it is installing anti-skid surfacing around the crossing but added that it doesn’t believe a pedestrian-controlled crossing would improve safety at the site.

While she welcomes the improvements, Ms Neal said: “All this money is being spent on Market Walk so why don’t they make the roads safe? Keynsham is being rejuvenated, there is more traffic with all the new developments and the High Street will just get busier.

“I’m worried there will be a death before that crossing is changed – it’s been four years since I raised the issue and still people are being hurt. As a mum of a Wellsway pupil I know it needs to be safe for the children who walk to and from school along the High Street and for the general public.”

Ms Neal’s daughter Jasmine, now in Year 8 at Wellsway School, witnessed her grandmother’s accident on the crossing, which left Mrs Neal, now 80, needing physiotherapy and with a permanently detached muscle in her shoulder.

Ms Neal, who is a full-time carer for her mother, has taken her concerns to local councillors and her calls for improved safety have been echoed by staff from Parsons Bakery, who overlook the crossing. It was the shop workers who witnessed the two most recent incidents, which happened within just days of each other in October – one in which a woman was knocked over on the crossing and taken to hospital in an ambulance and a near miss for another pedestrian.

Staff member Emma Moon, who has tended to people involved in incidents on the crossing, said: “We hear the sound of drivers putting on their emergency brakes every day. You almost don’t want to look – it’s upsetting for us. It could be a young girl with a pram, a child or an elderly person.

“The crossing needs to be changed so that pedestrians have complete right of way, cars should have to stop for the pedestrians.”

Colleague Lorna Hewlett, who is also Beverley Neal’s sister, said: “The road is so  packed with cars that the crossing isn’t visible enough – it needs more signs or a pelican crossing.

“It’s the busiest part of the High Street, and there will only be more people and more traffic in future. It’s the ideal situation for a pelican crossing.”
Keynsham councillor Charles Gerrish says he backs the call for action and has met with a B&NES highways respresentative at the site to discuss the concerns.

He  said: “There is clearly a genuine problem at this crossing as it currently stands, particularly at this time of the year when the sun is low in the sky and blinds drivers.

“It’s something I’ve recently discussed with officers and had a meeting at the site with one of the council’s highways team.

“I believe that action should be taken to resolve this issue as part of the strategic review of traffic in Keynsham, including the High Street, which is currently out for consultation.  I would urge residents to give their views on this as part of this consultation by using the additional comments box.

“The whole wider issue of traffic on the High Street needs a resolution as soon as possible.”

A spokesperson for B&NES Council said: “To improve road safety, the council is currently installing anti-skid surfacing on the approach to the existing
zebra crossing in the High Street. 

“This will help in two ways – firstly it will be a coloured surface which will help improve the visibility of the crossing and secondly it will help shorten braking distances for approaching motor vehicles. 

“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.”

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