Reader letter: Council’s pedestrian priority junctions are ‘accidents waiting to happen’

PUBLISHED: 11:12 14 September 2019 | UPDATED: 11:17 14 September 2019

Earlham Road in Norwich. Pic: Google Street View.

Earlham Road in Norwich. Pic: Google Street View.

Google Street View

Norfolk County Council has spent thousands of pounds and caused a great deal of disruption for local residents by creating a series of so-called “pedestrian priority” junctions along Earlham Road, including junctions at Recreation Road, College Road, Caernarvon Road, Edinburgh Road and others.

These are presumably meant to improve pedestrian safety, but are actually more likely to increase the dangers to pedestrians crossing the roads at these junctions.

The pavement surface continues across the road, with no kerbs, and drivers are supposed to automatically give way to anyone walking across.

Unfortunately, it is not at all clear that drivers understand this, and I have already witnessed several misunderstandings and near-misses at these junctions. In two such incidents, sharp words were exchanged between drivers and pedestrians.

There may be a particular potential problem for pedestrians with severe visual impairment, who may be unaware they have begun crossing at the junction because there are no kerbs to indicate they have left the safety of the pavement.

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Young children, on bikes or just running along, could easily dash across unaware of the danger.

Basically, there is an ambiguity built in to the scheme, with no obvious clarity enabling drivers to understand that pedestrians have precedence, which creates a clear safety hazard.

Good road safety practices require certainty, not ambiguity.

Pedestrians will need to treat these supposedly "pedestrian priority" junctions with exactly the same caution as for ordinary junctions, which obviously makes the whole project an expensive waste of time and money.

At the very least, the council should without delay install clear signs at each junction, visible both to vehicles entering Earlham Road from the junctions, and to those turning off into the junction from Earlham Road, making it absolutely clear that pedestrians do indeed have "priority". Otherwise these junctions may be "accidents waiting to happen".

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