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'It feels like a railway platform' - campaigners' demand changes to 'unsafe' road

Local residents on Earlham Road are once again calling for action to control traffic after a woman was seriously injured recently. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Local residents on Earlham Road are once again calling for action to control traffic after a woman was seriously injured recently. Picture: Neil Didsbury

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For two decades they have campaigned for better road safety.

Residents say they have been campaigning for two decades to improve safety in the area. Picture: Neil DidsburyResidents say they have been campaigning for two decades to improve safety in the area. Picture: Neil Didsbury

But after a woman was struck by a minibus on Earlham Road last week and left with serious injuries, residents in the area are demanding urgent action.

Those living along the road have been collecting evidence of traffic volume and dangerous parking for years.

They say the number of lorries and emergency vehicles using the road to cut between the city and the A47, the hospital or the research park has made the stretch of road “unsafe”.

Vicki Brown, 66, said “nobody wants the responsibility for the unique situation” on the road.

Earlham Road in Norwich has seen a number of road traffic incidents in recent years. Picture: Neil DidsburyEarlham Road in Norwich has seen a number of road traffic incidents in recent years. Picture: Neil Didsbury

“It is a B-road and a link to the A47, but also serves the hospital, university and research park,” she said. “The two roads either side of us also linked to the A47 are A-roads. They each have lights, speed cameras and bus lanes.

“The very fact of that means heavy goods vehicles prefer to come down Earlham Road.

“We also have all the emergency vehicles using the road because of the hospital. To my mind, heavy goods vehicles and emergency service vehicles don’t mix.”

After previous campaigning, a traffic island was installed close to the junction with George Borrow Road.

Situated near to the University and hospital, cyclists, cars, buses, ambulances and HGV's all regularly use Earlham Road in Norwich. Picture: Neil DidsburySituated near to the University and hospital, cyclists, cars, buses, ambulances and HGV's all regularly use Earlham Road in Norwich. Picture: Neil Didsbury

Near that spot, at around 5.30pm on Thursday, a woman in her 40s and a girl, believed to be 12, were trying to cross the road when they were involved in collision with a minibus.

The woman was taken to the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital with serious injuries, and has since been transferred to Addenbrooke’s Hospital for treatment.

The girl suffered minor injuries.

Peter Woodhead, 68, lives opposite the scene of the crash and ran out with quilts and pillows while calling 999.

He said after the incident: “The road is a nightmare, and now someone has been critically injured.”

Police are appealing for information on the crash, and anyone who saw anything should call PC Simone Sutcliffe on 101.

Neighbours on Earlham Road said the traffic islands are not safe.

Maurice McCormick, 67, walks his dog at Eaton Park twice a day.

“It is either rush hour, or it is quiet,” he said. “When it is quiet the traffic takes the chance to go as fast as they can. In rush hour it is bumper to bumper.

“The only place we can cross is the refuge, and there is hardly any room for the traffic to get through. It feels like you are standing on a railway platform with the wind of a lorry going though which can suck you in.

“It is dangerous.”

Mrs Brown added: “When we started campaigning on these issues we wanted a pedestrian crossing put in at some point. What we got was refuges.

“Soon after the islands were installed there was an accident at the bottom of the road where a car flipped over and went straight through the refuge.

“Clearly the crossings we were asking for would not be a magic fix, but it would afford some degree of safety that islands do not.”

As cars are allowed to park on sections of the city-bound lane, it forces lorries into the road or onto the pavement, said Jon Riley, 40.

“People do not use the islands because they are not safe,” he said. “It doesn’t give any form of safety for people crossing the road.

“The pedestrian crossings are not adequate, the lighting is not adequate, and you get cars parked all the way down the left hand side. That means lorries and ambulances are swerving into the road.”

A spokeswoman for Norwich City Council said: “Accidents involving cars and pedestrians on our roads are of serious concern and something we would address as a matter of priority.

“Over the last five years, however, there have been no pedestrian accidents on this stretch of Earlham Road, until now.

“There have, however, been collisions at the two roundabouts and so it is absolutely essential we focus our resources in areas where there is a proven issue and this is why we have invested significantly at these points.”

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