Crossings for Court Drive after survey

Shared space in Court Drive, Dunstable
Shared space in Court Drive, Dunstable

Changes to the controversial ‘shared space’ in Court Drive, Dunstable, have been welcomed by opponents of the scheme.

The improvements, which follow a Central Beds Council survey of residents, include turning three courtesy crossings into conventional zebra crossings.

Councillor Julian Murray, who has fiercely criticised the road scheme, said: “At last we have recognition of what most of Dunstable has been saying since it started.”

But he added: “The council says it has listened to residents. If they had only listened in the first place, they could have saved the council tax payer a lot of money.”

The council told the Gazette that more than 60 per cent of the town’s residents “support the goals” of the Court Drive project, which are to improve the look of the area, reduce speed, improve traffic flow and encourage visitors.

More than 1,000 people took part in the survey and gave their feedback on what works and what needs to improve. Traffic has slowed down, 56 per cent agreed, and nearly 70 per cent feel the area looks better.

But there were concerns over the courtesy crossings and delineation of lanes.

Taking the responses into account, the council has announced a programme of improvements that will take place during the summer.

The introduction of zebra crossings will give priority to pedestrians and the council says that “while they will interrupt the flow of traffic they should also have a further positive impact on traffic speed and feeling safe”.

Paving on these crossings will help blind and visually impaired pedestrians and the bus lane will be made clearer by laying a red surface.

Among other improvements are signage and access for cyclists.

The changes will be made during the school holidays to minimise disruption.

Councillor Murray added: “Many people have found difficulty in crossing Court Drive, Vernon Place and Queensway, especially the elderly, disabled and those with small children. Let us just hope that the council puts the zebra crossings in the right places.

“All we need now are white lines in the middle of the road all the way along, give way markings on the larger “improved” roundabout, a barrier on the corner of Queensway and Vernon Place to prevent the numerous crashes there and job done, everything back to normal. Now that would be listening.”

Councillor Carole Hegley said: “As ward councillor for Dunstable Central Ward, I have voiced my views to my colleagues, and council officers, on the shared space scheme at Court Drive based on safety concerns expressed to me by residents trying to cross the road.

“It has to be welcome news that the council has listened to views of the local residents in the recent survey and is proposing to act on safety concerns raised, endorsed by the official report from the traffic consultants commissioned by the council.

“Perception of safety, confidence crossing the road, are of paramount importance. The overall look of the scheme is something different and a personal opinion. I’m delighted the council will be acting quickly, in the summer, to enhance the scheme to overcome safety concerns.”

Councillor Budge Wells said: “We are really grateful to everyone who took part in the survey. We now know that there is broad support for what we are trying to achieve and we know from the hard stats that we have reduced speeds and the number of accidents resulting in injuries.

“But, we need to recognise the concerns of the community and we’re responding to these swiftly” he added.

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