Bollard to blame for recent Wimbledon crashes, residents claim
Residents have called for the removal of a problem bollard which has taken the blame for several car accidents in recent weeks. The complaints have arisen following a crash on Thursday, February 2, when a woman driving a silver people carrier ploughed into the traffic island when turning right into Worple Road from Wimbledon Hill Road at 5.25pm.
At least in this story, the facts are reported plainly – ‘the car ploughed into the traffic island’. But read on…
The road, connecting the village to Wimbledon town centre, was shut in both directions for two hours while the driver was cut out of the car and treated for neck injuries, while her 11-year-old daughter was unharmed. Sarah Davies, a lettings manager at Haart Estate Agent at the corner of the junction, said she knew of eight accidents which happened in exactly the same way since the middle of November. She said: “To date I am surprised that no action has been taken…. In my opinion it is only a matter of time before someone is seriously injured or worse.”
Sarah England, a nurse who lives in Griffiths Road, Wimbledon, saw Thursday’s incident reported on our website and revealed she had crashed at the same junction on December 20, 2011. She said: “I don’t see why a bollard of that shape has to be there in that position and I think there is an issue with drivers in people carriers trying to take this corner when it’s dark. I don’t believe for a second I was driving carelessly or too fast. I slowly turned right and felt a crash, thinking I had been hit, but it was the traffic island. My car was completely written off. The council needs to seriously think about whether it needs to be there at all.”
Quite why the bollard should be an issue with the drivers of people carriers, and not with the drivers of other cars, is not explained. Perhaps this is some kind of magic bollard, that selectively renders itself invisible once it spots an approaching Ford Galaxy or a
VW Toerag Turan Toeran large VW?
Or perhaps, more reasonably, this is a clue that the cause of the ‘accidents’ might not be the bollard, but instead the people behind the wheels of cars, specifically mums in a hurry to get somewhere, who are ‘trying to take this corner’.
And while Sarah England cannot see why a bollard has to be there in that position, I can think of one very good reason, which emerges in the next paragraph of the news article –
Councillor David Dean, who represents Dundonald ward at Merton Council, witnessed Thursday’s crash scene and said the council needed to remove the bollard, which protects pedestrians standing on a traffic island. Councillor Dean said: “It was exactly the same colour and make as my car and so I got a nasty shock when I saw it. I told Councillor Andrew Judge at a Street Management meeting [in June 2010] there should be more space for cars to turn right there. They need to move this island back and cars should also be allowed to turn right from Worple Road into the town centre.”
It is there to protect pedestrians who have partially crossed the road, and are waiting to cross the other carriageway. You can see the location below –
People crossing the road from the left, while traffic is waiting to come out of Worple Road, can ‘seek refuge’ behind this bollard, while vehicles are turning into it. (The illuminated bollard in this streetview image has been replaced by the increasingly fashionable curved metal one that lies under the car in the image at the top of this post – doubtless the lack of illumination is also ‘to blame’.)
Obscenely, having correctly diagnosed, and then stated, the purpose of this bollard – the protection of vulnerable road users – Councillor Dean demands its removal. That is, he is proposing taking away a piece of street furniture there to protect of pedestrians, in order that incompetent drivers can cut the corner of the junction without risk to their vehicles.
The position of the car perched on the bollard in this latest incident demonstrates quite clearly that the lady driver was, indeed, cutting the corner, and turning in on the wrong side of the road. Despite being responsible for damage to the bollard, and for causing delays to hundreds of other people, I firmly expect she escaped the attentions of the police, when really she was driving without due care and attention.
Let us also remember that Sarah England, who also drove onto this bollard, said
I don’t believe for a second I was driving carelessly or too fast.
Newsflash – driving into a side road on the wrong side of the road (the only way you could have ended up hitting the bollard) is careless. It is only the increasingly consequence-free nature of driving in our towns and cities that deludes you otherwise.
This is a subject quite close to home, because I was knocked off my bicycle in September last year by a lady turning into a side road on the wrong side of the road – she was cutting the corner, and worse, was not looking where she was going. As a consequence I ended up on her bonnet, before bouncing off onto the road as she braked rather suddenly.
This is what is happening here in Wimbledon. Drivers are lazily cutting the corner, and turning into Worple Road, again, on the wrong side of the road – doing so allows them to take the corner rather faster. The bollard is both there to stop them doing this, and, as Councillor Dean notes, before brazenly suggesting its removal, to protect pedestrians.
In an ideal word, of course, bollards like this one in Wimbledon would not be necessary; we would be able to trust drivers to turn into side roads on the correct side of the road. But drivers have long since proven that they can’t be trusted to do this; that is the very reason why these bollards have sprung up everywhere. Their removal would therefore serve only to facilitate and enable the bad driving that made them necessary in the first place, without consequence for the person behind the wheel, beyond the cost of beating out the pedestrian-shaped dents from their bodywork.
Thanks to @bassjunkieuk