Sunday, September 16, 2012

Time to give Shared Space serious consideration in Kings Heath High Street

Time to give Shared Space serious consideration in Kings Heath High Street

Those who have followed my political career will know that I am a great supporter of the Shared Space concept. Shared Space is a continental idea where streets are first of all de-cluttered of all excess signage and pedestrian railings that plague our High Streets. Finally the demarcation between pavement and road surface is blurred, so that it is clear to all that the pedestrian is king – vehicle traffic by default slows down. A good example of a ‘Shared Space’ already exists in Kings Heath, along Popular Road and the adjoining roundabout. Would this work along the High Street?

Of all the places I thought Shared Space could would work in Birmingham is Kings Heath High Street, especially in the section between Vicarage Road and Station Road. It would require a leap of faith by everyone and maybe a smaller section between Vicarage Road and Popular Road should be tried first. Issues like removing pedestrian crossings and replacing them with raised platforms would require a leap of faith for pedestrians. Removing parking spaces for cars along the High Street, between Silver Street and Poplar Road, would require another leap of faith by the traders. Replacing the smooth tarmac road surface with a paved surface would require a leap of faith by the emergency services who prefer smooth and flat roads. What I believe we would end up with is a more attractive street environment for shoppers, a smoother flowing road for vehicles AND reduced accidents.

In the last 4 years there have been 2 deaths along the High Street/Alcester Road South in Kings Heath High Street.

Those deaths were:

14th October 2008 – 70 year old man crushed under Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) on the Alcester Road South across the road from the Pear Tree pub. The victim was crossing the road when the traffic was stationary. He crossed in front of a lorry that was in the queue. Unfortunately he also crossed in front of this lorry, just as the traffic was began to move. The lorry driver, high up in his vehicle, didn’t see the victim and accidently drove over him. A news item can be seen here:

7th November 2011 – 13 year old girl, Hope Fennell, crushed Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) on the High Street in front of Kings Heath Baptist. The victim was crossing the road when the traffic was stationary – the pedestrian crossing further down the road was on ‘red’. She crossed in front of a lorry in the queue just as the lights turned ‘green’ and the traffic began to move. The lorry driver, high up in his vehicle, didn’t see the victim and accidently drove over her. A news item can be seen here:

I know that the Hope Fennell campaign claim “4 deaths in 4 years” along this road. I have no knowledge of a further two similar deaths along this stretch of road and have been unable to find news items relating to any such deaths. If anyone can provide evidence of these two further deaths, I’ll correct this blog entry.

As you can see, these accidents have the common denominator of stationary traffic and a pedestrian crossing immediately in front of a stationary lorry. The lorry does not see the pedestrian crossing due to the driver being so high up. The traffic begins to move and the pedestrian is run-over.

It is therefore completely understandable that the Hope Fennell campaign want to see HGVs banned from Kings Heath High Street either all day or during the busiest parts of the day. I understand and sympathise with this argument, BUT I can’t support it. My fear is that banning HGVs either fully or partially from Kings Heath High Street will simply divert them down neighbouring residential streets. Residential roads such as Valentine Road, Springfield Road, Barn Lane, School Road, Billesley Lane, Moor Green Lane and Avenue Road are already de facto Kings Heath by-passes. Isn’t it more sensible to keep HGVs away from residential roads and deal with the issue itself on Kings Heath High Street?

An argument has been put forward that all the HGV traffic on Kings Heath High Street could be diverted onto the A38. This is a non-starter since most traffic from the M40 and M42 is already directed away from the A435 by motorway signage. The vast majority of the HGVs using Kings Heath High Street are doing so, since they are accessing businesses and residents along the A435 corridor. Remember that the HGV that tragically killed Hope Fennell is exactly the same type of vehicle that is used by couriers to deliver parcels to residents or to deliver goods to small shops. The impact of banning these vehicles either from the High Street or even the entire area would have enormously detrimental implications for local residents and businesses.

In the short term, I honestly believe we need to look at installing short stretches of pedestrian railings at all pedestrian crossings along the High Street. And I say this as someone who wants to keep the pedestrian railings to a minimum. Can I also add that those who campaigned against the installation of railings earlier this year at the spot when Hope Fennell died were completely wrong in their argument – see article at The case put forward in the article that the railings “could lead to pedestrians being trapped in the path of heavy lorries” is total nonsense. Yes, there have been cases in London where cyclists have been crushed by lorries on railings where roads bend sharply. In this case, the proposed railings were short in length and on a straight bit of Kings Heath High Street. I have seen no evidence of cyclists or pedestrians ever been crushed on short lengths of straight pedestrian railings.

So yes, I accept as a short term measure the installation of some pedestrian railings at all the pedestrian crossings in Kings Heath shopping centre. This will reduce the chances of pedestrians walking in front of stationary HGVs, plus keep HGVs on the A435 and away from residential roads.

But long term, I honestly believe a shared space concept for Kings Heath High Street needs to be considered.



At 8:49 AM, Blogger Nazan said...

We have applied for the FOI as Livein Hope campaigners and found out numerous collisions, some fatal others pretty serious. Not to mention the numerous near misses etc.
Livein Hope campaign is working to improve the conditions of this very busy stretch of road and raise awareness of the issues with the community so to call for action.
After all, the problem existed for many years. There has been a lot of talk and no action(although an action plan has been created it has not been implied.
I would suggest that this time around do something and help to save the community and the children.
After all that's why the taxpayer pays for Councillors to do.
It would be interesting to dhear from yourself what actions have you taken in your time with the council. And how did this help?

At 8:49 AM, Blogger Nazan said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

At 6:02 PM, Blogger martin mullaney said...

Dear Nazan,

Thank you for your comment. You may or may not be aware, that I am no longer a Councillor. I failed to get re-elected in May 2012.

During my time as City Councillor for Moseley and Kings Heath Ward from 2004 to 2012, issues that I achieved while Councillor relating to road safety were as follows:

1)Installation of traffic calming measures along the length of Park Road, Moseley. This included the increase in width of the pavement at the junction of Park Road and Alcester Road, so as to force cars to slow down when entering Park Road; the creation of a mini-roundabout with pedestrian central refuges at the junction of Park Road and Edgbaston Road – the objective was to slow traffic along the Edgbaston Road and create a safe place for pedestrians to cross.

2)The closing off of one end of Louise Lorne Road, at its junction with Alcester Road. This was to stop Louise Lorne Road being used as a rat run and make it a safe place for children to play in the street.

3)The introduction of flashing’ slow down signs on Russell Road and Wake Green Road – indeed we led on the introduction of these flashing slow down signs in suburban roads when vertical traffic calming was not allowed

4)Raising of the height of the pavement on School Road between Blenheim Road and Cambridge Road, plus the installation of railings. This was so as to stop cars mounting the pavement and driving along the pavement during school closing and opening times. An additional flashing ‘school warning’ sign was installed in Cambridge Road as well.

5)The design of (yes, I designed this myself, after studying the flow of pedestrians and traffic over several weeks) and installation of double kerbs and new pavements, so as to separate cars from school children entering Wheelers Lane school on Wheelers Lane. This was an previously ab accident waiting to happen, where cars were zooming past primary school children at this entrance.

6)Installation of pedestrian railings at the Asda pedestrian crossing on Kings Heath High Street, although this was blocked and delayed by Councillor Martin Straker-Welds until after I lost my election in May 2012.

8)Massive reduction in street clutter along Kings Heath High Street. For a while we did keep the level of advertising boards under control. I do notice that these are again cluttering the pavements of the High Street.

9)Installation of zebra crossing on both Silver Street and Avenue Road (next to Grange Road junction). As part of the installation of the Silver Street zebra crossing installation, I also had the pavement widened next to its junction with the High Street

10)Financial support for the closure of entire streets on the Big Lunch Day – these included Westfield Road, Avenue Road, Station Road

11)Installation of numerous central pedestrian refuges along Wake Green Road and Yardley Wood Road, to make it safer for pedestrians to cross these roads.

I am sure that if I went through my records, I would find more. I studied in great detail the whole issue of road safety within Birmingham City Council, when I was Scrutiny Chair for Transportation- we did a scrutiny review on the issue and as part of this, we urged greater transparency on the decision making process on which roads or junctions had money spent on them.

When I was Councillor, I never made promises that I knew couldn’t be delivered. I would investigate the issue, which would involve: talking to the relevant officers and residents; studying the problem even if this meant watching the road or junction over several weeks; identify a potential pot of money.

As a result of doing this research, I was able to deliver road safety projects that worked. Unlike recently elected Councillors I did not make promises for road safety schemes that were not possible to deliver legally or financially, and even if they could be delivered wouldn’t slow down the traffic or increase road safety..

I wish your campaign the best of luck. Anything that reduces accidents or deaths, is always good.

At 9:53 AM, Blogger Nazan said...

HGVs on the High Street

care of duty should be a) be able to see. b) not operate in residential / school areas if unable to see properly.

why isn't this looked into throughout the years Martin.
there is very clear evidence that these deaths are not caused just by mere 'accidents' but avoidable collisions.

surely recommendations should have come out of the previous investigations....NOT

At 12:10 PM, Blogger Nazan said...

why have you deleted my comments?

At 12:16 PM, Blogger Nazan said...

Bottom line is martin, your idea of shared space is totally unrealistic. It is almost from a Fantasy Film.
You clearly state that you have no useful solutions. In spite of this A Road being overly populated and dangerous for especially children, elderly and the cyclist, you seriously want to put them in a shared space for which the road isnt even wide enough. in addition the wrong attitudes, inappropriate speed limits and lack of enforcement of traffic rules.
while you are criticizing a bereaved local parents effort to improve the safety of other children, you are taking no responsibility for NOT doing this yourself.
I am doing your and other cllrs work. I am not being paid for it. So you really got thre nerve to speak the way you do.

At 12:48 PM, Blogger martin mullaney said...

Hi Nazan, the comment I deleted was, if my memory is correct, part of house keeping. You had posted the same comment twice, so I removed one of them.

As policy, I don't remove or edit comments that I disagree with. I will always support peoples freedom to express their opinion.

I will however, do some house-tidying removing repeat comments. Also removing comment that are clearly spam. Honestly, the number of times I have to remove offers of free kitchen design, is ridiculous.

If you want to debate the issues around shared space, it might be more appropriate discussing this on facebook

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Nazan said...

Do you mind finding the details of the old lady who was dragged under a huge lorry at moseley junction, and died a horrible death?
the lady, 62 who also got killed by an HGV after Hope's death. Strangely been kept away from the public eye.
Do you mind finding out about the other old lady before Hope, also crossing very close to the HGV and the driver couldnt see her. and crushed her like Hope.
You should've acted upon those deaths instead of trying to ridicule and silence me.
Nazan Fennell

At 3:58 PM, Blogger martin mullaney said...

Hi Nazan, an elderly lady was killed in Moseley in 2009 at the main crossroad.

The traffic was stationary, waiting for the lights to change to green. The lady walked out into the traffic, short-cutting the lights. She walked infront of a lorry, just as the lights turned green. The lorry driver didn't see her and she was crushed.

I didn't include this accident in my blog, since the accident didn't happen on Kings Heath High Street....and it is Kings Heath High Street where the campaign to ban lorries is focused.

At 4:00 PM, Blogger martin mullaney said...

The other incident you refer to happened in November 2013 in front of King Davids School. The lady was seriously injured, but survived. I have no details on the cause of the accident. You current local Councillors should be able to find out.

Again, this accident didn't happen on Kings Heath High Street.


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