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Column 16th March 2022

Must someone die to improve road safety?

Does someone have to die or be seriously hurt before the County Council highways department will make our roads safer?

I’m chairman of Governors at Fitzwaryn School. This is a school for students with special needs on Denchworth Road in Wantage.

As a school we have a policy of encouraging our pupils to cycle and walk as much as possible.

As the school is on a busy road, we have a Zebra crossing with Belisha beacons to enable people to cross the road safely.

As the highway code states ‘drivers and riders should give way to pedestrians waiting to cross and MUST give way to pedestrians on a zebra crossing’.

But they don’t.

Almost every member of staff and pupils haas a recent story of traffic not stopping even when they are on the crossing.

As one of our students said recently ‘I suffer very bad anxiety about cars not stopping and maybe killing somebody, as cars drive too fast as well.’

The response from the highways team simply states:

‘From a road safety perspective the crossing continues to perform at a satisfactory level. We have checked our personal injury road traffic collision database and I am pleased to inform you that there have been no such collisions at the crossing during the last 3 year period.

‘Improvement and maintenance works to maximise forward visibility of the crossing such as installing the latest LED beacons and cutting back tree foliage from around the beacons has been carried out in the past to ensure that the crossing remains highly visible.’

Off the record, they have told us that unless someone is seriously injured or killed nothing will be done.

They are promoting active travel (encouraging everyone to walk or cycle) and ’20 is plenty’.

But this isn’t one of the roads which is being considered for the 20 mile an hour limit.

This part of the Denchworth Road is part of the A417 road around Wantage and when the Wantage Eastern Relief Road is finished (hopefully late this year or early in 2023), traffic will be driving around the relief road and along Mably Way before finding our school zebra crossing.

The County Council can slow down traffic in the centre of Oxford but they can’t slow down traffic and install a pedestrian crossing with traffic lights outside a school in Wantage.

What are the police and our councillors doing?


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