Petition - Improving the safety of young people using the footpaths on Hampton Lane outside Blackfield Primary School and Blackfield Nursery

Response from Hampshire County Council, November 2020

Thank you for your letter and petition dated 6th November 2020.

All schools in Hampshire are encouraged to carry out school travel planning as it is a good way of being able to identify where road safety concerns exist and the locations where children and their parents experience the most difficulty on the travel to school journey. This process helps to review the needs of pedestrians and other road users with the aim of improving safety, encouraging walking and cycling, exploring travel options to reduce car usage and support a healthy lifestyle. Engagement in this process can help to attract investment for the development of initiatives through the transport planning process and the school can work towards STARS national travel planning awards. Furthermore, the County Council also offers road safety education and training aimed at helping children improve their road skills. The Road Safety Education team deliver specific training and works closely with our partner organisations including the Police and Fire and Rescue services to coordinate these activities. My School Travel Planning Team will be happy to assist should you wish to explore school travel planning further.

In understand that there are Park and Stride options from both Gang Warily Recreation Centre and the village centre which are well utilised. From these locations there are pedestrian crossing facilities available at the signalised cross roads junction of Hampton Lane with Rollestone Road and Newlands Road, and a Zebra crossing near Pavilion Gardens. Furthermore there are school warning signs on Hampton Lane either side of the school site with school flashing amber lights to highlight the presence of school children.

With regard to the Zebra crossing, it is located where the main entrance to the infant and junior school originally existed. Since the school became a primary school the relocation of the Zebra crossing has been considered on several occasions but is not considered feasible for technical reasons. The provision of a crossing north of the main school entrance near the doctors surgery is not on the pedestrian desire line as it is north of the footway access points that link to the surrounding residential area so there are likely to be fewer pedestrians. There is a pedestrian phase at the signalised junction near Gang Warily that provides for pedestrians from approaching the school from the north. There are a number of accesses, junctions and bus stops to take into account when considering alternate locations to the south of the school entrance. There is a line of mature trees between the school entrance and the existing Zebra crossing that will limit visibility between motorists and pedestrians if the Zebra crossing is relocated into this area, then there is an increased risk to pedestrians. Past experience has shown that the removal of the mature trees to ensure suitable visibility is unlikely to be locally welcomed.

The County Council considers traffic calming measures where essential to address issues of excessive traffic speed with a related road casualty history. Aside from the availability of funding there are several factors that must be considered. These include the type and level of traffic needing to use the route, the road casualty collision history, the level of fronting development and access needs, as well as the community support and site suitability. It is important to take account of the impact that measures may have, such as increased delay that may be caused to the emergency services, delays to public transport and increased traffic noise. For this reason traffic calming is rarely suitable for main routes, and particularly main routes accommodating schools, bus services and medical facilities, such as Hampton Lane.

In respect of your request for pedestrian guard railing, this is often used to focus pedestrians towards a specific point, generally where there are higher numbers of pedestrians congregating to use a crossing for instance. Visibility between drivers and pedestrians is important and guard railing can reduce visibility of pedestrians, in particular smaller children, but both parties need to be able to observe activity on the footway and carriageway to react to the conditions. For drivers a length of barrier may result in traffic speeds increasing because of the restricted view of footway activity and for this reason guard railing is generally discouraged along lengths of footway. Furthermore the foundations required for guard railing and the resulting inset from the kerb line will further restrict the width of the footway and cause difficulties for some pedestrians such as those using mobility aids and parents with pushchairs. There is also a risk in these conditions that some pedestrians will choose to walk outside of the railing, effectively in the carriageway, and become trapped.

Unfortunately there is limited additional space within the highway for footway widening on the west side whilst still maintaining an efficient traffic flow. I will ask the local highways team to inspect the site for encroaching vegetation into the footway space and take any necessary actions to ensure that the space is maximised as far as possible.

I trust this is helpful in explaining the Council’s position and would encourage the School to engage with my School Travel Planning team whose various initiatives would help alleviate some of the problems that have been reported.

Yours sincerely

Councillor Rob Humby
Executive Member for Environment and Transport