Fringe Box



Opinion: Pedestrian Safety in Guildford is a Deadly Problem

Published on: 6 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 7 Mar, 2016

By David Bentley

Is there a problem in Guildford when it comes to recognizing the bleeding obvious?

The death of a second person following the accident on Bridge Street, on Saturday, February 20, only reinforces an extremely dangerous situation that has been tolerated for years.

Bridge Street, where the

Bridge Street, where the accident happened.

Pedestrians walking the pavement between the railway station and the Friary pedestrian crossing are massively at risk because it is narrow, crowded – and hemmed in on one side by speeding drivers who are focused on one thing: getting their vehicles through the town centre as quickly as possible.

Opinion Logo 2Anyone looking at this situation – and especially seeing the children and infants on that pavement – can see with half a brain that it is an accident waiting to happen.

Imagine, the horror of a Land Rover actually mounting that pavement.

Why, specifically, did that happen; was the driver distracted?

No wonder there have been fatalities. There could have been several more.

Whoever is responsible for Guildford’s traffic system should say why the lives and safety of pedestrians on that pavement are less important than the flow of gyratory traffic.

Why has the focus been on how to move vehicles through the town centre, while nothing has been done about the safety of pedestrians?

Here’s the bottom line: that pavement and others like it are the main public safety hazard in Guildford – and it goes on being that dangerous place, hour after hour, day after day, week after week.

Surely there is an immediate need to erect robust barriers between the pedestrians and the vehicles and move the traffic away from the pedestrians.

Don’t talk about it – do it. And do it now because more injuries and deaths are inevitable if the situation is left as it is.

Perhaps I should conclude by saying I am not from Guildford. In fact I live in a place where drivers are expected to routinely stop at intersections while pedestrians cross the street.

The car culture has got the UK by the… well you know whats.

And it is killing people.

Editor’s note: David Bentley is a journalist in Nova Scotia, Canada who regularly visits Guildford.

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Responses to Opinion: Pedestrian Safety in Guildford is a Deadly Problem

  1. Ros Calow Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 11:29 am

    My grandchildren and I were within a whisker of a similar accident in Shere recently. 4×4’s and narrow pavements are a lethal mix.

  2. Jeremy Varns Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 12:36 pm

    Its refreshing to read the comments of David Bentley, especially from the perspective of someone based outside of the UK.

    There really is no excuse for having so many cars in built up areas such as Guildford.

    In the few pedestrianised towns where car usage is restricted, life continues, the shops remain busy and everyone can breathe clean air.

    Our obsession with cars is killing thousands every year yet none of our politicians are brave enough to say that we need different solutions to get people to where they need to be, especially within urban areas.

    This madness has got to stop. People have a right to walk safely down the street as they have to breathe non polluted air.

    Unlike in Canada, where I have visited, most councils in the UK do not care about sustainability, forward planning and the safety of pedestrians. Bus services are cut, trains are unaffordable for many and cycle lanes are few and far between.

    We need to take a new direction – and fast.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 6:54 pm

    Unfortunately, even when we do erect pedestrian barriers to try to keep people safe from traffic, some pedestrians will climb over them to cross the road and save walking a few extra yards to cross safely!

    Comparing Canada, where there’s lots of space and a relatively small population, with the UK where there’s a large population and a lack of space, isn’t really helpful.

    As for the cause of the collision referred to, that has yet to be established and made public, which won’t happen for some time as there are now two coroner’s inquests to take place.

    It may have been that the driver was distracted, not concentrating, forced to take avoiding action due to another driver’s actions, taken ill at the wheel, or even been trying to avoid a pedestrian or animal in the road.

    We don’t know yet and it doesn’t help to speculate and criticise until we are aware of the facts.

  4. Mary Bedforth Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 7:18 pm

    The pavement leading from the Farnham Road car park pedestrian entrance down to the traffic lights is also dangerous especially when HGVs are negotiating the convex bend in the direction of the railway bridge.

    The pavement is narrow, its surface uneven with several patched repairs, has little in the way of a kerb and there is even an ancient rusty signpost bearing a road sign blocking the pavement alongside the traffic lights.

    Not good enough in 2016.

    One death of an elderly lady pedestrian occurred there last year. How many more before the necessary improvements are made?

    PS why doesn’t Network Rail renovate/paint the drab and rusting railway bridge parapets.

    PPS when there is heavy rainfall, pedestrians using the Farnham Road pavement, adjacent to the Guildford Park Road roundabout, get a drenching when vehicles go through the large puddle caused by a blocked drain.

    Banana republic?

  5. Nigel Trellis Reply

    March 7, 2016 at 8:23 pm

    Bridge Street, with its busy narrow pavement on the north side, does need to have the traffic taken away from it for pedestrian safety.

    Pedestrian railings as an interim measure would seem appropriate as it appears that people get pushed into the road a busy times.

    I understand that the driver of the Land Rover may have suffered a “medical episode” which caused him to loose control of his vehicle.

    I’m sure that in Canada the situation is significantly different to here in the UK. Unfortunately we do live in a small crowded island with historic routes going back centuries and an economy that relies on road transport.

  6. Malcolm Fincham Reply

    March 8, 2016 at 12:02 am

    The closing of the pedestrian subways hasn’t assisted the problems around the town centre. I feel, putting people in direct conflict with traffic has far from helped. As a driver, I have noticed during rush hour Bridge Street traffic in the right hand lane, heading for Shalford and Godalming is often made congested due to the pedestrian crossing holding traffic up at the bottom of the High Street outside Debenhams, causing much frustration and impulsive driving by vehicles converging from Walnut Tree Close.

  7. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 8, 2016 at 9:52 am

    In the shorter term the changes could be:

    1. Reduce Bridge Street to two lanes (still one-way). This would require some alterations to phasing of pedestrian crossing lights in Onslow Street/Bridge Street junction.

    2. Widen north footway (by putting down a line of cones straight away on the adjacent lane and then replacing them by steel or concrete barriers in stages).

    3. Take offside lane from Farnham Road Bridge turning right on to Park Street (now becoming two-way – one southbound and three northbound lanes).

    4. Traffic from this lane goes to Portsmouth Road or turns left on to Friary Bridge (now becoming two-way – one eastbound and three westbound lanes).

    5. This lane then turns right into Millbrook.

    6. Debenhams crossing is made into a two-stage crossing with an island in the middle either by blocking the offside lane or creating a chicane for the two northbound lanes.

    7. Make the High Street pedestrian crossing to work in tandem with Debenhams crossing thus eliminating the blocking of southbound traffic and allowing a much freer flow.

    The above alterations would increase southbound flow considerably and reduce congestion.

    These alterations could be done on several overnight lane restrictions until all signals and road signs are in place but remain covered up until the time to switch over that would probably happen in the middle of the night.

    Counties already have £2.1 million for gyratory improvement work, but as far as I am aware, have not spent it yet.

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