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Proposed zebra crossing across Bourne HillEnfield Council are consulting residents about a proposal to create a new zebra crossing on Bourne Hill, close to the junction with Hoppers Road, between the car wash on the northern side and St John's Church Hall on the southern side.  There would be a pedestrian refuge in the middle of the road.

 

Anyone wishing to comment on the proposal can do so online at www.enfieldbournehillconsultation.net - the deadline is 3rd May.  A consultation leaflet and detailed drawings can also be downloaded.

In explaining the background to this proposal, the consultation leaflet refers to previous studies into the possibility of providing controlled pedestrian crossing facilities at the Bourne Hill/Green Lanes/Hedge Lane junction, but states that "this has proved difficult to achieve as the proposals would result in long queues and delays to traffic. As a result of this, consideration has been given to providing separate crossings on the approaches to the junction."  The leaflet also mentions a collision near the proposed crossing which resulted in serious injuries to a pedestrian.

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Michael Scholand's Avatar
Michael Scholand posted a reply #33 16 Apr 2013 18:04
I support the Zebra Crossing across Bourne Hill. I attend Church at St. Monica’s and many times have had to park on the far side of Bourne Hill and sprint across the road with my three children while being chased down by speeding VW Golfs and BMW’s careening down the road at excessive speed. We are always been careful and patient, however we always run even when it seems to be clear because there is a significant blind corner over the railway bridge and people do not obey the speed limit on that road.

I do not, however, think the Zebra crossing is enough. I want the Council to consider installing a round-about at the intersection of Hoppers Road and Bourne Hill. The round-about would give right of way to people pulling out of Hoppers Road over the volume of traffic heading up Bourne Hill away from Green Lanes. It would also serve the purpose of slowing down people coming down Bourne Hill towards Green Lanes because they would now have a roundabout in their path and a driver in the circle would have right of way. This roundabout, located at that intersection would have the further advantage of enhancing the safety of the Zebra crossing.

This is a very dangerous street where pedestrians are regularly put at risk – particularly children, who are going to school, church and cub-scouts. The zebra crossing is a start, but it is not enough to tame the excessive speed at which some drivers travel on Bourne Hill, putting pedestrians at risk.
Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #34 17 Apr 2013 00:04
I agree entirely that this is a very hazardous stretch for pedestrians. It seems a good spot for a zebra, as views are good in both directions, though I am worried that some of the drivers that run the red lights at Green Lanes will be driving up Bourne Hill too fast to notice people on the crossing. A mini roundabout would hopefully slow them down, but I suspect that there is some rule about not siting zebra crossings close to a roundabout.

What angers me, though, is the suggestion in the consultation that a zebra crossing here would make up for the absence of any satisfactory pedestrian crossing arrangements at the Green Lanes/Bourne Hill/Hedge Lane crossroads. It would be a very long diversion for someone walking along Green Lanes on the West side to go all the way up to the end of Hoppers Road. The same with the planned new pedestrian refuges along Green Lanes, the far side of St Monica's Church - and they would only be islands in the middle of the road, and pedestrians would have no priority in crossing the road.

I understand that there have been previous campaigns for controlled crossings at the crossroads, but they were turned down because they would cause traffic queues - so delays of a few minutes for car drivers are more important than the safety of pedestrians. For anyone walking along or crossing Green Lanes there are no controlled crossings between Devonshire Road and Barrowell Green, a distance of more than half a mile, so pedestrians have to wait for gaps in the traffic. At the Bourne Hill crossroads there is a "lengthened" period when all lights are red - a full 13 seconds! This would be inadequate for older and slower people, even if it really existed. But in practice cars frequently go through red lights. On one afternoon last week I witnesses two potentially fatal incidents. The first was a car blatantly running a red light and turning left out of Hedge Lane at high speed. This is a blind corner for both drivers and pedestrians and any pedestrian crossing the road during their allotted 13 seconds would have been killed. An hour later two cars coming out of Hedge Lane at high speed and ignoring the red lights nearly ran over two pedestrians crossing the end of Bourne Hill. They were young and ran, an old person wouldn't have stood a chance, as the cars didn't slow down, just sounded their horns.

I think it's high time we restarted the campaign for safe road crossings in Palmers Green.
David Hughes's Avatar
David Hughes posted a reply #38 20 Apr 2013 00:27
I am strongly against pedestrian crossings as a matter of principle.

The reasons are these: to make use of them pedestrians commonly have to deviate from shorter/preferred routes which can be time consuming and unfair at the best of times, but is a real abuse of people with mobility problems who should take preference for the most direct/convenient routes; driver and pedestrian should have an equal right to complete their journey by a preferred/most direct route, but fixed crossing points weight the choices in favour of drivers; fixed crossing points backed by symbols such as zebra effects and flashing lights amount to an instruction which lulls drivers into not thinking/concentrating between instructions; knowing that pedestrians are being enticed to specific crossing points drivers have an incentive to driver faster between pedestrian crossings; the right of the three categories of road user (driver, pedestrian, cyclist) to complete their journey on time should be equal, i.e. democratic.

The ideal alternative is a default 20mph urban speed limit which would allow informal negotiation between categories of road user, and enable all three categories to become used to sharing. But failing that a good solution in this spot would be a 20mph limit through Palmers Green and for a couple of hundred metres northwards beyond the traffic lights, and for a significant stretch along Bourne Hill and Hedge Lane. This would make PG a better place, and might enable the removal of the traffic lights with a consequent easing of the bottleneck there.

Before readers react against this proposal they should remember that 20mph limits are spreading like a rash throughout the UK, and that in the Netherlands there are lots of areas, and at least one whole, substantial town, with no traffic lights or fixed crossing points. Car journey times are not longer in these schemes because obstacles like traffic light and fixed crossing points can be removed. Remember too that so-called Shared Space schemes which take this sort of principle even further are being created in Britain (and supported by the government) as in much of the rest of Europe, and that they have much, much better safety records than traditional traffic control schemes.

Wood Green has had a 20mph limit along Green Lanes for years. Why not Palmers Green
Michael Scholand's Avatar
Michael Scholand posted a reply #123 18 Oct 2013 22:32
Hi David - just read your post from April - unfortunately, I do not find myself in agreement with your principles on Pedestrian Crossings. Our transport system has evolved to include trucks, vans, cars, bikes, pedestrians, wheel-chairs, and so on. These are the transport infrastructure users. And, as you know, the frequency of use of cars along roads like Bourne Hill far out-weighs the few pedestrians, bikes, wheel-chairs, and so-on. Rightly or wrongly, the car is the mode of transport chosen by most people.

From my perspective, the absence of pedestrian crossings is dangerous for the non-car users - jaywalking can result in death and most drivers I've seen do not give right of way to pedestrians who take that most direct / quickest route across a road. In fact, I've been knocked off my bike by a driver who wanted to make a point about his right of way at a round-about, even though he was sat in a column of traffic going nowhere.

Pedestrian (Zebra) Crossings in the UK are to me (an American) a fantastic resource because they empower the non-car 'minority' to stop traffic when they are ready to cross - that is convenient and saves time. I don't have to wait for the lights to change and the red hand switching to a green man. These crossings are also a traffic calming measure, creating something that must be navigated by the driver, most of whom pass through with caution.

All that said, I completely agree with your 20 mph suggestion. Much safer for everyone and less CO2 for the atmosphere.

Thanks, Mike.
Basil Clarke's Avatar
Basil Clarke posted a reply #126 20 Oct 2013 23:12
I'm afraid that Mike's right. It would be nice to think that drivers, cyclists and pedestrians could all have regard to one another and have an equitable share of the road, and in a perfect world they would, but we have to start from where we are, and where we are is a situation where many road users treat others with contempt - and that includes pedestrians who walk out in front of cars without warning - even car drivers deserve some respect, and I say that as a non-driver.

I've tried two "shared spaces" in London - Exhibition Road and York Road (Waterloo). In Exhibition Road the car is still king, but pedestrians have little choice but to walk in front of the continuous stream of (admittedly quite slow) cars and hope for the best. York Road is scary if you want to get from the Festival Hall to Waterloo Station. There are absolutely no pedestrian crossings but plenty of cars - but the worst thing is the bikes, which appear round the corner and high speed and would never dream of slowing down or stopping.

Returning to Palmers Green, I'm afraid we don't need to do away with pedestrian crossings - we need many more. There isn't a single controlled crossing between the end of Devonshire Road and Barrowell Green - more than half a mile. And that includes the very dangerous Green Lanes/Hedge Lane/Bourne Hill junction, where cars frequently shoot the lights and turn left into Green Lanes at high speed. It's scandalous that the campaign to install pedestrian lights here was rejected on the grounds that it would delay traffic too much.
David Hughes's Avatar
David Hughes posted a reply #127 22 Oct 2013 19:10
I'm going to take Mike & Basil on and widen discussion about this topic, but I've got the mother and father of a cold and brain like porridge, so it's a coming shortly event. Meanwhile I'd make the point that thinking about traffic more or less worldwide has a 100 years of thinking in one direction behind it - it's a mindset. Even in the Netherlands progress has met that sort of problem on a big scale.

On 'Shared Space' - remembering that in the Netherlands there's at least one whole substantial town where that principle is followed and across North-Western Europe there are lots of schemes - I've never heard of a death. Which doesn't mean I'm advocating Shared Space everywhere, only a default 20mph limit and the right of pedestrians to cross the road at a point convenient to them. Why should traffic set the organisational principles? It's not democratic or fair.
David Hughes's Avatar
David Hughes posted a reply #130 28 Oct 2013 15:56
If you accept the national sentiment about the need for them, Mike S. and Basil C. made a strong case for pedestrian crossings, but I believe they and the nation are wrong. Indeed, I think the need for pedestrian crossings has been created partially by their use, that they lower driving standards, and that their presence is undemocratic because they force pedestrians away from their most convenient route. A new way of organising the relationship between people and traffic would do wonders for urban liveability.

Of course it will be difficult to make such a fundamental change because current thinking and behaviour are deeply entrenched, but I am confident that, skilfully done, removing trial pedestrian crossings from key places would prompt a call for a wider application of the principle. So here goes; rather than answer Mike and Basil’s points one by one I hope to make my approach stand on its merits.

Discussing what academics call ‘the organisational principles’ of urban streets and social areas like high streets is a fraught business if your ideas differ from the mindset which has been created by 100+ years of the car. Indeed, pedestrians are now so used to giving way to cars, to deviating from the most convenient crossing point for them, that they behave as if it’s ‘right’ to be required to take a longer, perhaps less congenial, route. In fact, by accepting pedestrian crossings, walkers have ceded a democratic right and made their own lives more difficult.

So why has this happened? In my opinion, because - when driver meets pedestrian - the driver has the power conferred by the vehicle. You could call it state-assisted bullying, though I think it’s been accepted because people believe that car journeys matter more than pedestrian journeys. Why? This puzzles me.

Putting aside the power issue for a moment, what other issues should decide who takes priority when driver meets pedestrian? Here’s my view.

• Setting – There’s clearly a big difference between an arterial road like the A10 (Great Cambridge Rd) – which has more in common with a railway line than a street – and a journey on purely residential streets to a school. On the A10 (until someone makes the sensible decision to put more freight and long-distance travel onto the rails) traffic has to take priority. But on a purely residential street, or in a social area like a high street, or near a school or a pathway to a school, or on routes to parks/hospitals, the chosen option ought to depend on the needs, at the moment of contact, of the drivers and walkers involved.

• Need – Drivers/pedestrians can’t read each other’s minds, but even in a split second a lot can be deduced from visual cues or read from body language; we do that all the time. Pedestrians in bad weather conditions, older pedestrians, pedestrians with mobility problems, pedestrians or drivers in a hurry, are all relatively easy to spot and they should take priority other things being equal. For the rest, caution and good manners are enough – no driver, however unthinking or selfish, actually wants to kill someone.

But priority isn’t the only issue which should influence the use or not of pedestrian crossings. The effect on driving skills also matters.

To drivers, pedestrian crossings are an instruction: “Stop for pedestrians at this point”. Well and good, but within that fact there is an implication that between crossings the road belongs to drivers. This has two consequences: the idea that pedestrian’s won’t or shouldn’t be on the carriageway – which is an encouragement to speed – and the implication that the key to good driving is obeying instructions rather than concentration – which is an encouragement to reduce awareness, concentration and thinking. No wonder that people drive too fast, without consideration, and with insufficient concentration.

So what’s the alternative? I’d say three practical measures, plus a strategy which maximises the chance that drivers will begin to think/behave differently. It will take a long time to change the habits of generations, but not as long as the 100 years it’s taken to create the current unsafe, undemocratic and community-hostile situation we have now.

Here are the three measures.

• No new pedestrian crossings - Use speed limits and physical measures to slow traffic if something must be done.
• A default 20mph speed limit – At 20mph there is time and opportunity to negotiate priority, more time to stop if a mistake is made, but less chance of serious pedestrian injury if an incident does occur.
• As many pedestrian-friendly street features as possible – centre of carriageway refuges, pinch points, calming measures, visual cues which emphasize people’s needs, but no instructions to drivers so that their concentration is maximised.

The strategy for bringing about these changes, and the development of a new mindset which responds differently to liveability/traffic issues, could consist of the following or a variant.

• Introducing the default 20mph speed limit throughout the borough with appropriate signs/road markings to replace the current reference point of 30mph (several London boroughs have already taken this decision).

• Choosing priority areas for supporting 20mph limits and removing pedestrian crossings.

• Looking at the streets and carriageways in the chosen priority areas from a pedestrian perspective, and making physical and/or visual changes which support safe and pleasant pedestrian activity ( To a point this is little different in principle, or in the design tools available, to now, but there should be much more attention to the appearance/liveability of places so that people enjoy the experience of being there as pedestrians.)

In no particular order – because it would be wise to choose areas of change as need or opportunity arises and funds exist – the following seem sensible candidates within the scope of point ‘2’ above.

• high streets and local shopping areas;
• around railway, tube and bus stations;
• within housing areas with a cohesive identity and speeding problems such as the Lakes Estate, Palmers Green and the Hoppers Road area in Winchmore Hill;
• around key road junctions, possibly entailing the removal of traffic lights to smooth traffic flow;
• around existing social areas like Southgate Green or potential social areas like the wide pavement adjacent to Palmers Green railway station on Alderman’s Hill;
• along access roads to parks (to encourage independent access for children);
• around schools, and
• along access streets to schools, probably beginning with primary schools.

In my view the practical problems of making the necessary changes are a lesser problem than the party political difficulties within Enfield created by alternate political groups taking power. To the outsider – I vote for neither of the two larger parties – the Labour Party seems most open to reviewing current practice and developing a more people-centred, community-based borough, whilst the Conservative Party, led locally by Cllr. Martin Prescott who is irredeemably opposed to any idea of a 20mph speed limit, seems bent – based on past performance - on reversing any changes Labour makes.

If we want a safer, more liveable area, free from poor air quality (both pedestrian crossings and traffic lights create local areas of traffic-generated pollution), which fosters the independence of children and encourages everyone to improve their health by cycling, we’ll certainly need to fight for it.

And finally. If you’re unconvinced I feel you should have regard to the experience on Kensington High Street when crossings, pavement railings and instructions were stripped out. The traffic engineers forecasted carnage; the accident rate went down. Drivers had been made to think
David Hughes's Avatar
David Hughes posted a reply #186 06 Feb 2014 17:51
A few months ago I contributed a couple of pieces about pedestrian crossings to this website, and continue to be fascinated and concerned by the clamour for more. Far better to campaign for calmed 20mph speed limits because at that speed driver and pedestrian can negotiate priority, making it possible for pedestrians – most importantly the elderly and people with mobility problems – to cross where convenient to them. Indeed there’s a list of reasons for favouring lower speed over defined crossing points which are well worth revisiting:

• wherever pedestrian crossings are placed there will always be people who want/need to cross the carriageway somewhere else;
• there’s nothing fair or democratic about encouraging pedestrians to deviate from their preferred route whilst drivers remain on their preferred route;
• pedestrian crossings do nothing to enhance the independence and safety of unaccompanied children, but lower speed does;
• a pedestrian crossing is an instruction to drivers which tends to lower their concentration whilst driving between crossings;
• it’s easy for drivers to fall into the trap of regarding the carriageway between crossings as belonging to them rather than a place to be shared with pedestrians;
• ‘accelerate, brake, stop, held-up, accelerate’ driving exacerbates poor air quality (a significant cause of illness and death) in social areas like high streets.

Wood Green has enjoyed 20mph limits and few pedestrian crossings along Green Lanes for years. Why not Palmers Green?

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