Roads Service is to consider road crossing

Roads Service has said it will consider installing a pedestrian crossing on the Belfast Road close to Hilden after the issue was raised by a Star reader.

Mr Ian McPherson recently called for the installation of a new crossing on the busy stretch of road, however in a letter to Mr McPherson, Roads Service said it had to give other crossings higher priority during this financial year. Despite this, Roads Service said it would give it further consideration during the next financial year.

In a letter to Mr McPherson, Mr Michael Mckendry from Traffic Management, said: “A pedestrian and vehicle survey was carried out on the Belfast Road in the vicinity of Richmond Court in 2013. While the results fall within the range required for further consideration of a controlled crossing, the subsequent assessment did not rate highly enough when compared with other sites such as that at Lambeg, to be included in the current years works programme.

“However, we will include the site for consideration, together with other similar locations, when compiling next year’s programme, which is subject to available finance.”

Responding to Roads Service, Mr McPherson again stressed the need for a pedestrian crossing. He said his call for a crossing came after his wife was faced with an out of control vehicle on the stretch of road.

“One morning last June, my wife was walking back to Hilden from dropping our youngest son at school. It was morning, rush hour, and there was a heavy summer downpour. A car came weaving towards my wife at this same spot. My wife recalls the panic on the driver’s face - the car was aquaplaning.

“My wife was frozen with fear against the Hurst fence. Luckily, the driver regained control of their vehicle. If they had not done so, they would have inevitably mounted the kerb, like the car in this picture.

“It took my wife a long time to get the courage to walk along the Belfast Road again.

“There is no official crossing place between the Wallace Park and Lambeg,” continued Mr McPherson.

“This is a full mile. One full mile on a busy stretch of road with no place to safely cross. This, despite the fact that there are now two crossings a short distance from each other at both the Wallace Park and, now, at Lambeg.

“If the good people of Lambeg are not expected to walk a hundred yards or so to a perfectly good crossing point, why are the people of Hilden expected to walk half a mile in either direction, and then double-back another half-mile, to catch the bus or the train?

“Nevermind those who ‘walk’ - what about people in wheelchairs? Go down there one morning at rush hour and imagine that you’re blind or disabled, or a schoolchild or elderly person - how would you feel trying to cross that road? It puts the fear of God in me, and I fall into none of those categories.

“On winter mornings, I only cross it if I wear a high-vis jacket and/or carry a flashlight. Are the people of Hilden second-class citizens? Are our lives less important? Are the children, disabled and elderly people of Hilden of less consequence?

“Here is my proposal: two new sets of lights: one, halfway between the Charles Hurst Bend and Lambeg and another, in the other direction, halfway to the Wallace Park. This would reduce illegal speeds on both roads and on the entire stretch, thus greatly reducing the number of collisions at ‘Hairpin Hurst’.

“More importantly, it would make it safer for pedestrians to cross both roads and to walk or jog along them. It would also be safer, all round, for cyclists. I would also move the start of the 40mph zone from the corner to the straight stretch of Queensway.”