Call for action on ‘danger’ crossing

Chris Sills and daughter Mabel at the pedestrian crossing on the corner of Low Skellgate and Somerset Row.  (140321M1)
Chris Sills and daughter Mabel at the pedestrian crossing on the corner of Low Skellgate and Somerset Row. (140321M1)

A Ripon father-of-four is calling for safety improvements to a “very dangerous” pedestrian crossing in the city after he and his family were nearly hit several times by vehicles jumping red lights.

Chris Sills, 38, of Low Skellgate, says since the summer he has had “at least eight close shaves” when crossing on the green man on the adjacent Somerset Row because vehicles turning left from Low Skellgate have ignored the traffic light switching to red.

“It’s very dangerous because as a pedestrian you can’t see, as you are on a blind corner,” said the training consultant, who is married to Sara.

“You cross over on the green man and suddenly a car comes – I’ve nearly been hit and I have seen other people nearly run over.”

The first time Mr Sills had a close encounter with a vehicle was last summer when he was crossing with two of his daughters, Lily, 11, and Mabel, one, who was in her pram.

“We were halfway across the road and a car came round and nearly ran us over,” he said.

Mr Sills immediately reported the incident to the police and contacted North Yorkshire County Council, the authority responsible for the highway, to see whether it could improve safety at the junction.

“There were a couple of options I thought they could look at – put a camera on top of the lights on Low Skellgate to catch people who jump the lights or change the sequence of when the green man comes on so that it comes on after the traffic from Water Skellgate comes through. Then you could see if the cars are going to jump the lights.”

But despite reporting the problem, Mr Sills said he got no response from the authority.

“I’d not heard anything back for a month in which time I almost got run over again, so I got back in touch.”

Mr Sills said he was then told someone had looked into the matter and been out to look at the junction.

“The woman on the phone said it was not so simple to change the sequence,” he said.

“But they said something would happen but nothing has.”

He again checked with the authority in January but still no action had been taken and,in exasperation, contacted the Gazette after he and Mabel along with their pet dog, Bella, encountered another car racing through the red lights.

“Since the summer, we’ve now had at least eight close shaves where we have nearly been hit or had to jump back on the kerb.”

A spokesman for the county council said it took the matter of motorists jumping red lights “very seriously”.

He added: “Unfortunately the county council has no record of communication between Mr Sills and the Traffic Signals Team.

“It is possible that Mr Sills may have been informed over the telephone that officers are aware of red light-running at this junction, and that to change the staging of the signals is not a simple process and that some changes have been considered.

“As a result of the concerns raised, the council will investigate whether a change of the signal stages would make the junction safer for pedestrians.

“One option already tried in the past was is to increase the amount of time between the end of the Low Skellgate stage and the beginning of the pedestrian crossing stage. When this was carried out there was no discernible reduction in red-light running – in fact it may have encouraged more local drivers to do so, as they became aware of the increased amount of time available to clear the junction.

“There is an option to swap the pedestrian and Low Skellgate stages, which would remove the conflict between vehicles that have gone through a red light turning left from Low Skellgate and pedestrians already on the Somerset Row crossing. This would however increase the likelihood of vehicle to vehicle conflicts should drivers continue to break the law.”