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Thursday, 31 January 2013
Zebra Crossing Part Two

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So the workers are back today installing a rough anti-skid surface to the road on either side of the zebra crossing.  Apparently this is because the Road Safety Audit of the design, that was conducted in March/April 2012 by members of the Surrey County Council Transportation Management Division, Network Management and Information Group, determined that there was a risk to the safety of pedestrians crossing due the location of the Zebra crossing.

Summary: pedestrians vulnerable whilst crossing.

The proposed zebra crossings will alter the braking requirements of approaching drivers, especially during wet / icy conditions. Drivers required to brake late / suddenly when pedestrians are crossing may be unable to stop without encroaching into the crossing widths. This raises the potential for pedestrian conflict.

RECOMMENDATION

Provide high friction surfacing on the approaches to the proposed zebra crossings.

This recommendation was accepted by the designer and incorporated into the design of the zebra crossing. The surface that is being laid on the road looks as follows:
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Now, while I’m very much in favour of promoting safety for pedestrians (and all other road users) this “bolt-on” change to the design seems a bit strange: it’s surely not addressing the cause of the risk, which is a combination of: (1) the location of the crossing; (2) the speed of oncoming vehicles; and (3) the visibility of pedestrians.

On this last point (visibility) a further risk is identified:

Summary: pedestrians at risk during dark conditions

Site observations reveal there is no street lighting in close proximity to the proposed zebra crossings. During dark conditions pedestrians using the crossings will not be positively illuminated in accordance with current advice, which places them vulnerable to conflict.

RECOMMENDATION

Investigate existing street lighting levels.

Provide street lighting as required to positively illuminate pedestrians crossing during dark conditions.

On this recommendation the designer agreed to lighting assessments being carried out by the Council subcontractor (Skanska) and to an upgrade to the street lighting to be incorporated into the scheme at detailed design if necessary.  So hopefully there will be improvements here still.

On the speed of vehicles approaching the zebra crossing, there has been a narrowing of the carriageways on the blind bend in the road, which I noted before. However nothing has yet been done to reduce the speed of vehicles coming from other directions. Perhaps a pinch point would have done this, or a 20mph speed limit? Then again 20mph speed limits, and some kind of street furniture to slow down vehicles and make the road more friendly to pedestrians might have met the original objectives of the zebra crossing.

Then again, what do I know: I realise that I have opinions, but I’m not an expert and my opinions are not always informed ones!

Other people on twitter commented on this new road design:

oxted (@oxted)
29/01/2013 20:57
Did anyone else think there was something funny about the new zebra crossing in Oxted: bit.ly/1196aeX /via @bigbluemeanie

To which there were some replies:

Naomi Danby (@simpsnao)
29/01/2013 22:51
@oxted @bigbluemeanie, the one that is not only hazardous to drivers & pedestrians but is positioned on a stretch of road with no footfall?!

Alison Kelly (@ali_k15)
29/01/2013 22:56
@oxted @bigbluemeanie both zebra crossings are in extremely dangerous places right on top of a busy junction. An accident waiting to happen

Anne Dickins (@Anne200solo)
29/01/2013 23:14
@ali_k15 @oxted @bigbluemeanie no lights nearby make it invisible at night.

Alison Kelly (@ali_k15)
30/01/2013 00:15
@Anne200solo @oxted @bigbluemeanie all in favour of safe place to cross but agree with you, no lights and much too near dangerous junction.

Matt Park (@matt_park70)
30/01/2013 05:49
@Anne200solo @ali_k15 @oxted @bigbluemeanie I complained about the crossings last week and was sent a copy of the safety audit. E-mail?

Posted by bigblue on 31/01/2013 at 02:49 PM
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Tuesday, 29 January 2013
Pantomime crossing in Oxted

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First the sign on the left went up, advising that there would be roadworks here from 3 December 2012, for approximately two and a half weeks. Well it’s certainly been a long two and a half weeks, because it’s now the end of January and the sign on the right has been erected saying that the zebra crossing is not in use.  In between the two events a zebra crossing was constructed and there seems to have been a long period where nothing has happened. Presumably the council workers/sub-contractors are merely on an extended tea break, and will return at the allotted hour for resuming work!

As the following picture shows, the zebra crossing is practically on a bend in the road so people have been questioning the wisdom of it. Therefore I was not surprised that this topic of its location even came up in one of the Oxted Parish Council meetings that discussed the original proposal:

The issue of the zebra crossing on Station Approach and the bend were considered. It was agreed the Clerk should respond endorsing the principle of the crossing but with reservations regarding the location and confirming that dropped kerbs would also be incorporated for accessbility.

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I should however also add that I have heard a lot of support voiced for the crossing. A driver’s perspective may be that it is in an “inconvenient location” but a pedestrian’s viewpoint is that it provides a safe crossing at a place where it is most needed (since it is difficult to cross near the bend and intersections otherwise). It also is on a route frequented by school children and elderly residents, and (combined with a narrowing of the carriageways on the bend itself, which is not clear from my photos) the changed road layout will force drivers to be more careful. Hence, despite my initial doubts, I too am in favour of the changes.

So why do I refer to the crossing as a pantomime? Well besides for the protracted installation, what I found funny was the latest sign saying:

CROSSING NOT IN USE

using the technique of capitalising letters that was so common in the 1970s before bold and larger typefaces became preferred ways of indicating emphasis.  Since I can vouch that the zebra crossing has been used, for about three weeks now, I am tempted to add, in the large blank space below the above words:

OH YES IT IS!

Rather than partially installing the crossing, then doing nothing for a few weeks, then telling us that their work was incomplete (“crossing not in use” presumably translates as “we haven’t yet finished this”) why don’t they commit to delivering the road feature in a quick and efficient manner?

Posted by bigblue on 29/01/2013 at 06:17 PM
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Sunday, 27 January 2013
Live Music

An excerpt from the house concert we went to last weekend.

Posted by bigblue on 27/01/2013 at 07:46 PM
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Thursday, 24 January 2013
Androuet

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I don’t think I mentioned this but at the beginning of the year we ate out here at Androuet Restaurant in The Old Spitalfields Market.

On their website The Old Spitalfields Market announced the arrival of this famous name as follows:

Since 1909 the Parisian cheese making and maturing House of Androuet has preserved the heritage of cheese making. It was founded by Henry Androuet, then continued by his son Pierre, inventor of the famous Bourguignon cheese the Brillat-Savarin and founder of a cheese restaurant in Rue D’Amsterdam, Paris. Faithful to tradition, the House of Androuet works hand in hand with the smallest farm producers. This year Androuet celebrates 101 years of tradition and excellence by opening a new cheese shop and cheese and wine bar in Old Spitalfields Market, London.

The London restaurant and shop followed seven Parisian branches and one Stockholm branch of Androuet into existance.

Posted by bigblue on 24/01/2013 at 09:19 PM
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Wednesday, 23 January 2013
Bleak midwinter scene

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Seen from my train in Northern France on Monday morning.

Posted by bigblue on 23/01/2013 at 07:01 AM
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Tuesday, 22 January 2013
Rue de Dunkerque

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Outside Gare du Nord station in Paris last night. There was snow on the ground (as pictured) the whole day yesterday and there was a heavy snowfall in the afternoon. It was a cold day, and inside the station itself (as always) it was like a fridge.

Posted by bigblue on 22/01/2013 at 09:23 AM
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Monday, 21 January 2013
Courchevel

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This is my recent view, across the Tarentaise Valley of Courchevel, the first ski resort in France to be constructed from scratch rather than based around an existing village (according to Wikipedia).

Posted by bigblue on 21/01/2013 at 07:54 AM
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Sunday, 20 January 2013
Snow on Master Park

It snowed gently the whole day today and I went out to look around the town.  Here are some excerpts of my ride, filmed in Master Park.

Posted by bigblue on 20/01/2013 at 06:41 PM
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