A second pedestrian has died within just three weeks on the same dangerous stretch of road in Peckham, just 48 hours after the details of long-delayed safety works were published by TfL.
A consultation on the plans is now open until March 12, giving road users the chance to have their say, but many are left questioning why it has taken so long to get this far when four people have died within a 100 metre section of Peckham Road and Peckham High Street since 2015.
As the News has reported, four pedestrians have died in road traffic collisions within six years. Seventy-six-year-old great-grandmother Mary O’Leary died in September 2015 after being struck as she crossed the road toward the top of Rye Lane. She had lived in Peckham for more than 30 years.
Exactly two years later, in September 2017, 74-year-old Peter Allingham died after being hit by a lorry on September 4 at 10am as he crossed Peckham High Street. A Viking enthusiast and steam train driver, Allingham was a publican who was barman and assistant secretary of Peckham Liberal Club for three decades.
This year, Jason Bent was hit by an HGV on the afternoon of January 8, at the same site where Peter Allingham lost his life in 2017. Police say there have been no arrests and the driver was cooperating with inquiries.
Three weeks later, on January 30th, another male pedestrian died after being hit by a driver who later failed a roadside drug test in Kelly Avenue, at the junction of Peckham Road. No further details have been released by police.
Last year, over 70 pedestrians were killed in London, compared with 58 deaths in 2018. Peckham High Street was first identified as location for safety works in 2014 as it was believed to pose a high risk to pedestrians.
Plans to start a consultation on improvement works were announced in 2015, and due to take effect by 2017 but have been in limbo until now, much to the frustration of Southwark Council. Local councillors have been lobbying for quicker action but are powerless to implement the changes as Peckham High Street is a TfL road.
A petition set up by residents to improve the road layout and install an island in the middle of the road for pedestrians crossing near Burger King, and for railings to be added on the central reservation to stop people from running across outside designated crossings, has been signed by 459 people.
On January 28 of this year, TfL confirmed it wants to work on a section of road between Basing Court and Mission Place. This would add more pedestrian crossings and cycle crossings, and widening pavements. Depending on feedback from the public, work is expected to begin by the end of 2020.
The plans include lowering the speed limit to 20 mph as a person hit at 30mph is five times more likely to die than someone hit by a car travelling at 20.
Two new crossings would be added, including one between Peckham Square and Rye Lane, and another nearby. The changes aim to make it easier to walk from Peckham Library to Rye Lane, and to cycle via the Surrey Canal Path.
Existing crossings near Sumner Road and Bellenden Road would be widened and updated so cyclists can also cross more safely, and the pavement on the north side of Peckham High Street would be significantly widened to make more space for walkers and people stepping on and off buses.
Kerbs would be changed so the road becomes narrower, and the road surface raised, making it easier to cross and encouraging drivers to slow down as they approach.
But there are no new cycle lanes or segregated cycleways in the plans. In fact, illustrated designs show that near the junction with Rye Lane painted cycling lanes would be removed, and an existing central island also taken out.
Road safety campaigner Andrea Casalotti, from the Vision Zero London campaign to end road traffic fatalities, has criticised the plans saying TfL needs to either divert traffic to the much wider A2 or relocate shops elsewhere, as the pavements are too narrow for the congested road.
“Nobody denies that the solution to Peckham High Street is difficult,” she explains in an open letter to Heidi Alexander, London’s deputy mayor for transport.
“The street is a busy shopping street with narrow pavements and is also used as a major arterial road. There are in other words irreconcilable demands. One cannot have an arterial flow with vehicles driving up to 50 kph on a narrow shopping street.”
To view full plans and share your views with TfL visit: tfl.gov.uk/Peckham-town-centre