Wednesday 18 August 2010

Lampost Demolition Derby

This lampost is on Forest Road near the turning to Ruby Road.

Forest Road, Walthamstow
It has been hit by speeding cars on multiple occasions. The road bends left here and the island reduces the width of the road. All accidents have happened late at night. One wiped out the lamppost completely and the car ended up coming to rest 100's metres down the road by a zebra crossing. The latest one clearly dented the lamppost - the keep left sign was replaced as the original was shattered across the road.

Forest road in this area is a bit notorious for accidents. The three accidents involving this pedestrian refuge didn't even merit a piece in the local paper, but these did :

Illegal drunk driver killed in 2009
Car and Van collide in 2009
Cyclist killed in hit-and-run in 2007
Car catapults into front garden in 2007
Two injured in hit and run in 2008

This is just the tip of iceberg - I frequently cycle down Forest Road past broken glass and bits of bumper. Clearly speeding cars must be an issue on this road, and yet I haven't seen one transport document that is seriously looking at how to address the problem. Cars don't just "lose control" by themselves and plough through pedestrian refuges, pub walls or front gardens - drivers lose control of the car by using too much right foot on the accelerator.

It might be easy to think that a change to the road layout is required to resolve the issue. But the underlying issue are drivers who are not driving within the law. But why would they? The chances of getting caught for speeding are low, and if you are, the consequences aren't enough to make people stop doing it. In an urban environment driving at the speed required to flatten a concrete refuge and lamp-post is more than reckless or careless, it is being criminally negligent whilst in charge of a lethal machine. Even during the day, I see cars speeding through the pedestrian crossings close by whilst people are trying to cross. This type of disregard for the welfare of others won't change with some change in road-layout or "awareness" campaigns, it needs to be backed up by serious consequences if caught, and by the authorities making this type of anti-social behaviour as high a priority as drink-driving.

Waltham Forest are consulting on redesigning this part of Forest Road. No doubt it won't cross anyone's mind that adding top quality cycle facilities and pedestrian access to narrow the road and at least temper the appalling driving on this stretch of road. It will be the same crap, just a bit more paint and a lot more money.

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