Its always a bit disappointing when the first time you find out that somebody has got a problem, is when it appears in the letters page of the local newspaper. It’s doubly disappointing when the person making the complaint is known to you, because you have had dealings with them in the past and have actually been successful in resolving an issue for them.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not seeking to be the best thing since sliced bread – never really understood what that means – and be the go to guy for everything and everyone, but I’m just a bit nonplussed as they say, that this gentleman didn’t at least given me a heads up on the issue, at the same time as writing to the newspaper. All that said, I have actually been looking into the issue of drivers allegedly ignoring the pedestrian crossing on Wygate Park, over the last couple of months, following a comment made to me by a resident sometime ago.
The comment was along the same lines as the letter in the press and although I have not witnessed any occurrences myself, it reminded me of my own concerns about this crossing. Until the recent conversation, I thought it was just me and that I was somehow becoming less aware of such things and therefore needed to be on my guard when driving. This is often a criticism of drivers of a certain age, so I had to consider it as a possible reason for my concerns, regarding this pedestrian crossing. However, having heard these concerns from somebody of lesser years, I thought I’d do some further research.
For sometime now, I felt the crossing was somehow less obvious as you approach it in the car, than similar crossing in other locations – but only during the hours of daylight. At night the opposite is true and I would defy anybody other than a blind person, somebody sleep driving, or somebody completely off their head on drink or drugs, not to see this crossing clearly. Not only is it floodlit, it also has illuminated black and white posts, that work brilliantly in combo with the flashing yellow beacons that top them.
Unfortunately, during the hours of daylight, the beacons seem barely adequate and along with other surrounding issues, I wonder if this might be the cause of the alleged pedestrian near misses? Does the background of nearby trees and branches make the beacons less visible than normal? Is it the light units on top that leads a driver to see these as street lights, rather than the crossing illumination and warning beacons they actually are? Could it the fact that the crossing actually sits on one of the traffic calming platforms, making the viewing angle from a driver’s perspective, shallower and the black and white crossing less obvious?
I’ve been in touch with the county highways department, asking all of these questions and they are of the opinion that there’s no problem with either the crossing, or its visibility. As always, they are forced to look at getting the biggest bang for their ever decreasing buck, so they use the accident and incident figures for a given location, as a way of determining its priority. In the case of this crossing, nobody has been run over yet and, thankfully, nobody has been killed, so it doesn’t even figure on the highways dept’s radar, when it comes to spending money on improvements.
I have made enquiries with a company that supplies beacons that have a ring of flashing LEDs around them, having seen how effective they are in other areas – Peterborough City seems to fit these as standard. Unfortunately the cost, over £3000 per beacon (higher than standard, because of the integral flood light unit on top) makes funding any improvement from my ward budget almost impossible. Just to make life a bit more difficult, county highways would still not sanction any changes, unless they received what’s called a commuted sum of £2,700, to cover the increased cost of future maintenance, or replacement due to accident damage. Understandable, but nonetheless frustrating.
I really do hope that neither the letter writer nor myself, are proven right in our concerns and that the crossing continues to offer genuine safe passage to pedestrians crossing this increasingly busy road.