Traffic calming appeal at busy school crossing

Traffic calming appeal at busy school crossing

15 September 2021

ROADS officials have this week been asked to provide traffic calming measures at one of the district’s most busiest roads close to Ballynahinch High School.

Many pupils who attend the school have to cross the extremely busy Belfast Road and a former pupil — who is now a local politician — has joined forces with Ballynahinch High principal Paul Marks to push for new safety measures.

Slieve Croob councillor, Alan Lewis, is lobbying for a new pedestrian crossing to be provided to ease the difficulties faced by students who have to cross the buy road.

He said there is an urgent need for a crossing at this location, revealing that in excess of 100 students cross the road each day. Cllr Lewis said their safety must be a priority.

The councillor explained that the Education Authority does not fund a crossing patrol warden at this location who is on duty each school morning and afternoon and has helped generations of children cross safely. 

“The Authority cannot give a commitment that crossing patrol wardens will be replaced should their position become vacant,” he continued. “As a councillor, I am aware of the time it takes for the provision of a pedestrian crossing to be assessed, approved and placed. This is about future planning, ensuring a continuity of service.”

Cllr Lewis said he has been advised that a number of pedestrians have been “clipped” by vehicles at the Belfast Road on several occasions and that there have also been some near misses.

He continued: “This road is dangerous and the traffic is fast moving as drivers leave and arrive into the town at speed. While there are regular speed checks, those who carry out this work cannot be present all day, every day. While I appreciate that the problem remains and needs to be addressed.

“With reduced and stretched budgets, the Department for Infrastructure is only able to facilitate and fund the installation of two traffic calming measures per area each financial year which means there are over 10 locations waiting to be approved.

“Indeed, some areas could remain on the list for many years but this cannot happen at the High School in Ballynahinch. I am asking roads minister Nichola Mallon and her department to intervene to ensure traffic calming provision is funded as a matter of urgency. We cannot allow this to drag on for years.”

Cllr Lewis said with vehicles becoming faster and drivers less patient, there is an increasing and urgent need for a comprehensive and direct effort to ensure maximum safety at the Belfast Road in Ballynahinch.

He declared: “This is dangerous given that it is the main thoroughfare from South Down to and from Belfast. Children need protection and traffic calming measures and a pedestrian crossing are necessary.”The Slieve Croob politician said he intends to continue working with the High School and Mr Marks lobbying the roads department to ensure that traffic calming measures are provided at the Belfast Road. 

Also this week, Cllr Lewis has welcomed the provision of additional 20mph zones at local primary schools, including Dundrum’s Sacred Heart, Annsborough Integrated and St Joseph’s PS in Tyrella.

He said the new zones will ensure that children, parents and staff will be safer as they travel to and from school on a daily basis. 

“I have lobbied for improved safety, speed limits and police speed checks outside schools within the Slieve Croob area to ensure a safe and secure environment can be provided for all traveling to and from our schools, whether on foot or by vehicle,” Cllr Lewis added.

“This is another step forward in a joint and collective effort to make our roads safer and there is a responsibility on schools, the Department for Infrastructure, parents and police to work in partnership.”

Cllr Lewis has also asked people to be conscious of where they park, their surroundings, when and how they cross at a time when everyone is acutely aware that vehicles are becoming faster and drivers less patient. 

He is also urging roads minister Nichola Mallon to ensure the temporary 20mph zones are set across schools within the district, adding: “There needs to be a comprehensive review on road safety, involving all partner agencies with direct responsibility.”