Dangerous Zebra Crossing on Bridge

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Now you see it … Now you don’t!
Closed & re-opened – see updates below

An accident waiting to happen! The new zebra crossing on the bridge at Sydenham Station has already had some near misses. Is the positioning of this crossing a breathtaking example of incompetence by Lewisham’s traffic engineers?

To the harrassed pedestrian rushing to/from the station it appears to be great way to cross the road in a hurry (no waiting for lights). For the motorist unfamiliar with Sydenham – it is invisible. The pedestrian thinks he has precedence, the motorist sees a jaywalker who ought to hold back…

Why? Well it appears nobody bothered to check the sightlines. The zebra cannot be seen from the driving positions of smaller cars. The belisha beacons are on extra high posts taking them out of the sightlines of drivers who should be looking over the brow for unexpected oncoming traffic. They are also partially hidden behind other road signs and street furniture. The road markings are easily interpreted as being a warning of the upcoming roundabout (which is more prominently signed).

news_zebra_03Update 11th October 2004 – News Shopper join in the campaign

The press are onto the story. Barry Milton, a local resident of Bishopsthorpe Road is interviewed and pictured by the News Shopper.

We witnessed several incidents when cars coming up the hill had to brake sharply as they spotted the crossing at the last moment.

news_zebra_04news_zebra_05Update 16th October 2004 – Lewisham have closed the crossing!

Campaigns by the Sydenham Society, News Shopper, Sydenham Town and residents appear to have succeeded in getting the crossing closed on Friday 15th. But is it to removed, moved or improved? We wait to hear what is going to happen.

Local traders have long campaigned for a safe crossing in the area and were overjoyed when it was opened a couple of weeks ago. It was a great boost to trade after the dismal year blighted by the ‘wobbly island’ roadworks. Local residents thought it wonderful too – and while it was open it was probably the most popular crossing in Sydenham Road/Kirkdale.

Now the shops are upset. Pedestrians will, again, have to run the gauntlet of the traffic. So the campaign for a safe crossing should surely take on a new urgency. Should they improve or move – and if so – how or where?

news_zebra_06Update 19th October 2004 – Lewisham improvements?

Monday & Tuesday Lewisham installed extra lighting and a ‘granny bonnet’ to the northern beacon. The bonnet is presumably to stop the beacon being mistaken for a signal by trains passing directly below. The problem is that this beacon was the most visible to drivers coming up the hill (see picture at the top). These drivers are approaching from the right and the beacon is now partially obscured by its own post! The crossing remains closed.

Update 24th October 2004 – Making a bad situation worse.

Conways – Lewisham’s contractor have now completed work on the south side. The right hand beacon had been partially obscured (see above) – well they have now moved the left hand beacon so it is completely invisible behind the red triangle island sign. No one checked the sightlines when moving the beacon. Perhaps Lewisham don’t pay Conways to think about what they are doing. I think we can agree Conways are doing it brilliantly!

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The picture also shows the problem of motorists being temporaily blinded by the elevated lights of traffic coming over the brow. Experienced drivers tend to look away or quickly close their eyes to enable fast recovery. Just at the point they should be looking for pedestrians crossing an invisible zebra warned by invisible beacons.

Update 7th November 2004 – How many more mistakes can they make?

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Another pedestrian runs for his life!

The crossing stays closed and with the withdrawal of the nearby trafic island – Lewisham have succeeded in making the area more dangerous. It would also appear they are pre-judging the outcome of the safety review by spending more of our money in changing stuff. You can see that the beacons have been swivelled around to make them more visible, which with the crossing closed just causes more confusion. You can also see that the island sign has disappeared from the lefthand lampost.

And this is where ithe road sign has gone. Can you see it? Twisted around so it, like the zebra crossing it is almost invisible! This would be funny if it wasn’t that the highway engineers are endangering the public by continually failing to check what they do.

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Update 10th November 2004 – Spot the Sign?

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Looks like Lewisham are planning to re-open the hidden zebra crossing. Why? As you can see they have just put up red warning signs.

What do you mean – you can’t see it? Why this is the best view any motorist coming down Westwood Hill will have of the warning sign – and it would be needed because you can’t see the actual crossing can you?

Its on the lampost by the white van. There are five other signs on that same lamp post. There a lot of other signs around it too, and if there is a bus about – forget it. But miss the new sign and the crossing or pedestrian than who is to blame? The people who put up these signs but fail to notice the sign opposite (see above) is still not pointing in the right direction?

news_zebra_11Update 26th November 2004 – Reopened

Friday 26th and Lewisham re-open the Zebra crossing with new signage (left). But has it passed its safety audit? Lewisham are not saying – yet!

Is this the end of a long story? Well Sydenham Town truly hopes our fears are not realised. Just be careful when you cross – and even more careful when you drive.

17th February 2005 – First Accident

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At approximately 10:45pm a 41 year old local man was hit by a black Fiat Punto. The victim sustained chest injuries and was taken to Kings College Hospital. It is believed the injuries are not life threatening.

21st February 2005 – Lewisham’s Road Safety Audit

Lewisham are obliged to carry out a safety evaluation. In view of the widespread concern about this crossing they have given us permission to publish a copy. You can read it below:

Sydenham Road Zebra Crossing
Road Safety Audit

The police voiced some concerns over the location of the zebra crossing and state they prefer a pelican as traffic have to stop at red lights.

The safety scheme was independently safety audited and these concerns were not borne out by the road safety auditors report. A subsequent meeting took place between the Auditor, the Police and the Council and the police still feel that the crossing position is not ideal. The Council’s auditors opinion is that a zebra crossing was more suitable, at this location, than a pelican crossing.

The zebra crossing is on the desired point for pedestrians and there isn’t a better location nearby. Its provision is an improvement for pedestrians. Buff anti-skid surfacing with SLOW markings on the approaches to the crossing are proposed to be laid before the end of the financial year (The laying of this is weather dependant). This will improve the approach visibility to the zebra crossing.

The siting issues with a pelican are more or less the same as that for the zebra crossing. A pelican crossing proposal is not proposed for many reasons and these include; insufficient widths of footways for waiting pedestrians, another set of signals in Sydenham Rd, compounding of carriageway capacity problems. Siting a pelican may prove to be costly as the bridge would need to be widened to accommodate widened footways and possibly a central reservation for the signals.

Accident records will be monitored to ensure that the numbers of accidents at this zebra do not exceed the average for Lewisham. Should accident numbers be much higher than the average and have common causes then the Council will consider closing the crossing.

Nevertheless we are investigating the feasibility of a pelican crossing, and will advise you when we have a firmer idea of the cost

Pat Hayes
Executive Director for Regeneration
21st February 2005

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