Will a tiger crossing help solve a decade of traffic problems in Corby’s George Street?
There’s going to be a £350,000 attempt to make the main thoroughfare through Corby town centre safer
A new tiger crossing and an improved zebra crossing in George Street are part of the proposed solution to an ongoing problem with motorists illegally using the main road through Corby.
North Northamptonshire Council is proposing a raft of changes to the road layout including upgrading the zebra crossing and creating a tiger crossing - for the use of pedestrians and cyclists - at the existing unofficial pedestrian crossing between the Cube and Primark close to the Westcott Way junction.
There will also be extended road markings and signage, a textured road surface and an improved pedestrian path. Hedging next to the Cube will be removed to improve visibility. The £350,000 cost, which is from the Government’s Towns Fund, will also go towards improvements to the cycle route.
But taxi drivers, who have formed the loudest communal voice in the campaign for improvements, say they were not consulted and that the changes amount to a ‘new coat of paint’.
Since the street had major public realm changes made to it in 2011, it has been an accident black spot. A shared-space crossing area between McDonald’s and the cinema was quickly adopted as an official zebra crossing after a string of near misses caused by confused pedestrians and motorists.
An ambiguous crossing place between the Cube and Primark stil causes confusion because of a lack of understandable road markings.
Signage telling people the road is closed to vehicles expect taxis and buses during the day is largely ignored by motorists because of a loophole allowing access to Cardigan Place or Everest Lane, which means the traffic order is essentially unenforceable if drivers claim to be using George Street to access those streets.
The problem has grown deeper after the explosion of food delivery services which has meant dozens of workers have been using Cardigan Place as a collection point.
Corby Hackney Carriage Owners’ Association Secretary Neil Rielly said: “It’s like trying to fix a broken leg with a band aid.
”The problem is still going to be there. Drivers are still going to use the road. All these issues could have been solved by putting up ANPR cameras and fining the drivers who use the road illegally.
”It’s a no-brainer.
“The area between Cardigan Place and Everest Lane needs to be closed off to all traffic except buses, taxis and emergency services.
“Signage needs to be changed at the both entrances to the upper part of George Street to reflect this.
“When entering George street from Westcott Way it should say access to Cardigan Place only and from Alexandra Road it should say access to Everest Lane only.
“ANPR cameras could then be put in place to fine those who break this rule.
“This would be very lucrative to the council and would probably cover its cost within months.
“The crossing at the Westcott Way entrance would be an improvement as this area constantly causes issues as some pedestrians just walk out thinking it is a crossing.
“As for the main crossing, there is no improvement.
“Until something is done to reduce the flow of traffic in this area pedestrians will be in danger.
“I’ve seen cars turn out of Cardigan Place and Everest Lane and absolutely fly over that crossing just missing parents and children. It’s a miracle no one has been killed.
“This is not a fix.”
Both North Northamptonshire Council leader Jason Smithers and MP Tom Pursglove pledged to come up with urgent solutions to what was a ‘serious issue’ when the Northants Telegraph revealed there has been another accident on the crossing last month.
Yesterday (Tuesday, June 15), a letter from Cllr Smithers to Mr Pursglove posted on social media said: “These works would significantly improve the accessibility and mobility for pedestrians and cyclists moving between the town centre retail area and the leisure quarter, as well as improve the attractiveness of the public realm.
“It would encourage more independent movement and provide safety for shoppers.”
Mr Smithers added that enforcement cameras would be considered as a second phase depending on the success of the new measures.
In response, Mr Pursglove said that the improvements were good news for the town.
Work, by the council’s highways contractor Kier, is due to begin on July 18 and will take four to six weeks.
Five years ago the Northants Telegraph counted 270 drivers an hour illegally travelling down George Street.A North Northamptonshire Council spokesman said: “An initial statutory consultation took place and we are now seeking views on the proposals from taxi drivers who use George Street.
“This consultation is focussed on the proposals which aim to ensure the safe use of the crossings rather than enforcement which is outside the remit of this project.”