December 21 2013 Latest news:
Wednesday, September 18, 2013
The number of pedestrians killed or seriously hurt after being knocked down in Norwich city centre has surged, with experts blaming “inappropriate driver behaviour”.
New figures have shown that, in the year to the end of June, the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured, had gone up to 18, from an historic low of just six in March 2012.
And, with the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured on Norfolk’s roads as a whole having gone down, that sparked road safety officers to investigate why Norwich had bucked that trend.
Their research, which looked at the police reports into accidents, found that the crashes involving pedestrians tended to happen in the city centre, or at places where walkers cross the inner ring road.
A number of incidents have also happened around Ipswich Road, which council bosses are hoping will be reduced after a pedestrian crossing island was put in.
They also hope that measures to ban general traffic from St Stephen’s Street and controversial changes to the way traffic uses Chapelfield North will make the city safer.
But the research also found that “inappropriate driver behaviour” was increasingly a contributory factor – with drivers putting pedestrians in danger by not concentrating on the road.
Last year, Norfolk County Council launched its Keep Your Mind On The Road campaign – an attempt to encourage road users not to get distracted by things such as selecting songs on the stereo or craning back to talk to passengers in the back of the car.
On the increase in pedestrians being hurt in the city centre, Steve Jarrett, senior road safety officer at Norfolk County Council, said: “At the moment we are not alarmed, but we are looking to see if this increase is just a blip or if there are other things going on.
“We have previously looked at incidents involving older drivers and that has been coming down and is of less concern than it was five or six years ago.
“We’ve been looking at the vulnerable road users, which are cyclists and pedestrians to see if there is anything which stands out, so we can work out what we need to do.”
The spike in pedestrians being hurt or killed meant that, taking together crashes involving pedestrians, cyclists and other vehicles, there were 57 people killed or seriously injured on Norwich’s roads in the year to June, well above the expected level of 45.
Mr Jarrett said there were likely to be improvements for pedestrians as part of a multi-million-pound funding boost to improve cycling in Norwich.
The Department for Transport announced last month that Norwich would get a Cycle City Ambition grant.
Made up of £3.7m from government and £1.8m of local money, it will upgrade cycling infrastructure across Norwich, including an eight-mile route through the city centre, linking people with growth areas from the Norwich Research Park to Heartsease.
Mr Jarrett said: “A lot of the supporting money for that is for pedestrian improvements and we are expecting to be able to do certain things around the area.”
Brenda Arthur, leader of the city council, said: “I am told a lot of these accidents are people getting hurt while trying to cross the ring road.
“We will be looking at how we can work with the county council and putting in zebra crossings to make it safer.
“I’d also urge people to be careful when crossing the ring road, which is increasingly busy and would urge drivers not to get distracted and keep concentrating while driving.”
While the figures are categorised as killed or seriously injured, no pedestrians died on Norwich’s roads in the year to June. One has been killed in the past three years.
That fatality happened in Riverside Road on June 24, last year. Jose Joaquim Goncalves, 31, of Aspland Road, was died after he was struck by a taxi.
The factory worker died as a result of a “traumatic brain injury” following the crash in the early hours.
At an inquest into his death, coroner William Armstrong said the taxi driver was “totally and utterly blameless” for the tragedy.