* UPDATE Thursday 181121: Six years since Loving Dalston ran this story, Hackney crossings still offer limited safety. Perhaps change is, however, in the air: the Living Streets activist group was given a sizeable timeslot on BBC Radio 4’s PM programme today to discuss the good and bad of varieties of pedestrian crossings
A YOUNG WOMAN was hit by a taxi near the pedestrian crossing not far from the peace mural in Dalston Lane, Hackney E8 3DF today Tuesday 23 June 2015 at about 7.30pm.
She was taken by ambulance to hospital. Her injuries are not life-threatening.
The woman is believed to have been crossing to Ashwin Street — a doubt arose when a police press officer referred to the street, next to the pelican crossing, as Ashwin Road.
Drivers have often flouted the ban on turning to the right or left — it has varied — at Ashwin Street.
Buses east and west through Dalston junction were diverted via Kingsland High Street and Ridley Road after the accident, several of them stuck in an area of Dalston Lane cordoned off by police. Eventually, it dawned on the authorities that this was unnecessary and the double-deckers were belatedly allowed to return to service. Transport for London, which controls the street, made the pelican crossing a key feature of changes it made four years ago to boost traffic flow.
The measures included a wide pavement and consequently narrowing of the road for cyclists, who often prefer to use the wide spaces of the pavement, as well as constant changes to the position of the bus stops between Dalston Junction and Beechwood Road.
The changes have been a failure, for cyclists, pedestrians and motor vehicles: jams happen daily. But the most worrying aspect of TfL’s supposed improvements is the pedestrian crossing.
A press of the Walk button takes 90 seconds to switch on the Walk signal. By then, many people, assuming that the timing has failed, have stepped into the
traffic. Sometimes, the Walk-Don’t walk gap can be more than four minutes.
In any case, people on foot have a fraction more than five seconds when the sign flashes Walk. Not surprisingly, today’s injury at the crossing is not the first.
Elsewhere in Hackney, the times are the same but in most, such as near Hackney Central and Dalston Kingsland railway stations, they are more generous.
The placing of the Walk/Don’t walk signs on the light posts is unusual: walkers often do not see them.
At least one Dalston councillor was warned two years ago about the accident potential of the crossing. The crossing was, however, not made safer.
Age UK last week got big media coverage with research concluding that old people were being put at risk by pelican crossings that failed to give them enough time to cross. “Road crossings,” said the charity, “do not give them time to cross safely.”
If Age UK looks at Hackney crossings, it will find it is not only the elderly who have been endangered by the low crossing times.
Perhaps more Metropolitan Police officers need to be objective about accidents. A Hackneyite told Loving Dalston that when he asked about the Dalston Lane crossing incident, an officer said “A pedestrian hit a car”. On seeing our informant’s surprise, he quickly amended that to the less biased – and more credible – “A car hit a pedestrian”.
Another informant said she was told by a policeman that no motorist had been arrested. He added, rhetorically: “Of course not. Why would we arrest the driver?”
Hamish Scott 230615
* Backstory: Cycopathic changes at Dalston
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained. Most photographs can be visually enlarged by pressing on them.