Many of you will be aware that last week there was a tragic collision near Forest Gate station, where very sadly a female pedestrian was struck by a vehicle and lost her life. Some of you contacted me to express your concern about this, and told me your worries that the temporary lights that were in place could have contributed to this terrible event.
I’ve been in touch with colleagues in Highways, and reiterated to them how worried Forest Gate residents are about road safety. I also pointed out how important this place where Forest Lane meets Woodgrange Road is, it’s one of our busiest pedestrian crossings, pedestrians have to wait some time for a green man, cars often jump the red lights, and of course it’s right by the station, as well as two pubs and Forest Gate community school.
When a death occurs on the road, it’s vital that the situation is investigated properly, and various processes immediately come into play. Last Thursday, officers from Highways met with the police at the junction, and checked what was happening there . This included looking at the Thames Water works, and the temporary lights that had been installed. They also checked this against the traffic management plan that any utility company needs to provide if they want to do work like this.
The Director in charge of Highways wanted to emphasise to me that road safety is an absolute priority, and although all the right processes have been followed, he plans that the team will now dedicate more time and resources to checking roadworks like this one, both before and after they are installed. In particular, they’ll be doing more work to check traffic management plans before works are given permission.
There will now be a Serious Collision Investigation, which is a police investigation run on a London wide level. This can take some considerable time, but we are hopeful that the progress of this investigation might be easier because apparently a local business has some very high quality CCTV, which will form part of the evidence that is examined. As with all these police matters, it’s important not to prejudge the outcome of that investigation, but once it’s taken place, a prosecution could potentially result from it.
Officers also want to arrange in the meantime, to sit down for a ‘lessons learnt’ meeting with the police and Thames Water.
I highlighted also a persistent issue where cars turning right from Forest Lane jump the lights, and end up trying to cross the pedestrian crossing right by the rotunda, as pedestrians are walking across. I said that although drivers do ignore instructions in various places, it does seem to be a particular problem here, and was exacerbated (in my laywoman’s opinion) by the fact that the phasing, or timing of the lights means that pedestrians wait a reasonably long time for a relatively small amount of crossing time. Longer term Forest Gaters may remember that this used to be even shorter: you used to basically have to jog across the road to make it in time. So this is better than it was, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be improved further.
Officers are liaising with the police, and with a particular named contact there on road safety, and will discuss with him whether the police could take some action against drivers jumping the red lights there. In addition, the Newham road safety team will take a look at the whole junction, assess how the design is all working, and make any recommendations they think are necessary. I’ve asked to come along and attend this site visit when it happens, so I can both see the discussions but also highlight the experiences of pedestrians here.
The post above is from my notes from a conversation, and any errors in it are mine and not the fault of officers, who are similarly distressed by this, and working hard to do whatever we can to make sure people are safe crossing the road here.
I would like to extend my most heartfelt condolences to the family and friends of the person who was killed there last week. If anyone has any queries about the above, I can’t guarantee that I’ll know the answers, but I can certainly try to find out.
Take care, all.
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