Friday, March 21, 2014

Tower Hill Safety Campaign Update

 It's nearly two years since a fatal accident killed one woman and nearly killed a pregnant woman too at the Tower Hill junction of Walsall Road. The driver involved was later jailed for dangerous driving.

The event shocked the community and although the incident was the fault of a reckless and irresponsible driver, it also highlighted some long-standing safety issues at this junction.

So we started by collecting a petition and submitting it to the council, calling specifically for a 30mph zone at this busy junction.

Then in collaboration with the local police and neighbourhood watches we set about gathering more evidence. We were joined in this work by the Child family, relatives of Sarah who died so awfully.

Over several sessions we counted:

  • all the pedestrians using the unprotected crossing by the Co-op;
  • all  the drivers performing illegal u-turns;
  • all the drivers jumping red lights.

We proved that more people crossed the road using the unprotected crossing than the two pelican crossings - and that there were hundreds of them.

We proved that drivers were u-turning onto one of the pelican crossings, terrifying many residents.We even saw a trailer u-turned and swinging wildly towards the bus-stops by the Co-op.

This led to meetings with senior city engineers and the submission of our evidence. The council agreed to organise a professional study of the junction and to investigate "phasing" of the lights to allow an all-red pedestrian phase - giving people more time to cross by the Co-op.

Avril, in turn, continued to campaign and in the autumn organised a march of remembrance, which Jon and Karen were pleased to support (see photos)

Now the council's professional study has confirmed our findings. Pedestrians are at risk and u-turns pose a major hazard (Drivers can easily and safely u-turn south-bound by turning into Tower Hill. The same manoeuvre can be done north-bound although it is trickier).

There is a programme of works and investment agreed (we're awaiting the details) and the junction will be considered for speed cameras when the new digital ones start to be introduced. In addition a proper red phase will be introduced.

Our original petition called for a 30mph zone through Tower Hill and the petition response says there will be a review of the speed limit here.

That's the good news. We're waiting for a full site meeting with the engineers and some of what they propose has seemed baffling. For instance the right turn filter into Beeches Road has been removed. This has annoyed drivers but the engineers say it stops drivers feeling it is safe to u-turn south-bound.

So expect us to be back assessing the effects of the work.

Our last report on this:

From the response to the petition: