New Southwark pedestrian crossings aim to make streets safer

One hundred and forty new pedestrian crossings have been created in Southwark over the past five years as part of the council’s new scheme to make streets safer for walking.

The south London council took to X to share the news and also pledged to install another 25 by April under their Streets for People policy.

Pedestrian casualties in road traffic accidents across the borough peaked at 249 in 2017 before plummeting due to the Covid lockdown, but deaths have since been on the rise. 

Southwark has seen a 25% increase in pedestrian casualties since 2020, reaching 179 in 2022.

Cllr James McAsh, cabinet member for the climate emergency, clean air and streets for Southwark, has rallied for change.

He said: “We want our residents to be able to take safe and healthy journeys, and create more green space for all of our communities to socialise and play in.”

Southwark’s Streets for People scheme, set up by McAsh this year, said it promised a “firm commitment” to improve residents’ quality of life.

Southwark, which has recorded pedestrian casualties above the London average since 2017, has invested £12 million in the strategy

The scheme hopes to create “safer and quieter streets with less traffic and fewer accidents” as well as making the borough greener, cleaner and quieter.

Southwark resident Josh, 34, said: “The driving in Southwark is generally terrible. My friend and I were crossing the road with his baby in the pram and the car almost didn’t stop. 

“More zebra crossings would help with this kind of situation as cars would have to stop for us.”

Last year, Southwark was the third most dangerous borough in London for pedestrians, tailing only behind Lambeth and Westminster, TfL reported.

However, Stuart, who has lived in the south London borough for 24 years, said more crossings will only increase pedestrian safety if drivers follow the rules of the road. 

He said: “I definitely feel safer walking around Southwark now than five years ago. It feels less aggressive, less hostile, but that is not in the context of pedestrian crossings.

“As a driver, I very often see drivers not stopping for walkers waiting to cross at pedestrian crossings. Those that do, usually drive on before the pedestrian has reached the other side of the road.”

According to a consultation run by the council, 70.3% of respondents said they want to see less traffic and “streets that are designed for people first”.

The London borough, which controls roads in Bermondsey, Peckham, Camberwell and East Dulwich, is home to 307,600 people, where 60.3% residents do not own a car.

When asked whether more pedestrian crossings will reduce road deaths in Southwark, Josh said: “Yes, but driving around I have noticed people will cross wherever they want to cross. 

“There’s a lot of beeping from cars at people crossing the road where they shouldn’t be, but perhaps that’s because there aren’t a lot of crossings.”

According to TfL, the number of pedestrians killed or seriously injured across Greater London has also been on the rise since the pandemic.

TfL reported 1235 pedestrians killed or seriously injured in 2022, a 30% increase since 2020, but still below pre-pandemic figures.

Pedestrians were also the largest group killed in road traffic accidents in Greater London last year.

In a bid to curb all road traffic casualties the London Mayor Sadiq Khan introduced a new action plan, Vision Zero, in 2018. 

Khan has set a target to eliminate all road traffic deaths and serious injuries by 2041 with his main focus on lowering road speeds around the capital. 

He has also invested £2.2 billion to make streets safer for walking across London.

Josh, who works in the film and television industry, said: “London has its good parts and safer parts to cross for sure but people don’t want to wait to allow cars to cross.”

McAsh said: “At the moment we put cars first – we need to change that.”

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