Batchworth Crossing update

A local resident has started a petition for more to be done about the crossing on Batchworth Bridge:

Hertfordshire County Council sent us a copy of their report here.

We’ve since noticed a cheaper alternative – a Belisha Beacon spotlight which can fix onto existing poles, so no need for expensive footings to be dug out. This solution has been used in Somerset, Gateshead and Newcastle councils, as per our contact at one Belisha Beacon Spotlight provider. We’ve sent their details to HCC to investigate further.

Batchworth Bridge response from HCC

A message from Reena Ranger, HCC Councillor, in response to our post:

Hertfordshire County Council (HCC) actively endeavour to reduce the number and severity of Personal Injury Collisions on our roads through the work of their highway safety engineering specialists. However, road safety involves a multi-agency approach, with engineering being only one part. This is why they also work with road safety partners to educate and inform road users about what they can do to keep themselves and others safe on our roads.

We would of course like to address all road safety issues on our roads. However, because HCC do not have unlimited core funding, resources must be directed to those areas where work has the greatest potential to reduce the number and severity of collisions that occur.

There have been 8 accidents reported at this location between October 2018 and Sept 2023 (more recent date is being asked for and takes time to obtain). There have been no deaths at this location and the accidents mentioned all did not take place on the Bridge but in its vicinity – there is a key to indicate severity of accident on the attachment.

This location doesn’t meet the intervention levels to trigger core casualty reduction investigation. Nor does this location attract funding from core funding pots for intervention works.

Any changes to the beacons or lighting here would need to be funded from non core funding pots.

With regards to the currently lighting. The lighting met standards at the time of installation. Some improvements can be achieved beyond this.

There was a design for lighting upgrade plus civils work (railings/tactile etc and this has been estimated with design, engineering works, traffic management etc. Any potential for push button signals would need to be explored to see if it would be possible – but this is expected to add another £40k to the estimate, if the bridge could accommodate underground apparatus – exploration of which will be needed and associated costs would need to be met.

The distance between the road surface and the actual bridge structure is not very deep and there was question as to whether there would be enough depth to accommodate suitable foundations that would be required with taller posts. Obviously, the taller and thicker the post, the deeper the foundations would need to be to provide stability and stop them falling over in high wind etc. Kind of like the post’s ‘roots’.

I had funded ‘trial holes’ which showed there being only 150mm (6.0”) depth below the posts in the centre island. This is no-where close enough to provide posts taller than what is already there. You will see on site that these posts in the centre have bolt-down fixings. Depths at either side of the road are better and indicated some improvements can be made with better lighting provided, and a design was drawn up and costed. In order to fully improve the crossing with better lighting, guardrail and tactile paving the cost was circa £60k. A revised estimate for delivery in 24/25 would be: c.£63k.

Currently, there are pedestrian crossing signs on the approaches to the zebra crossing, and these are illuminated. There area also Belisha beacons in place on the crossing itself.

Residents have asked about the railings being removed. The railings are there to deter people crossing at various points of the bridge. The Centre railing is positioned quite far back and people waiting at the kerb can be clearly seen either in front of the railing or through it.

I can fund speed limit road markings on the road ONLY at the changes to the limit. In this case, on Riverside Drive. The other approach would allow markings at Moor Lane and London Road where limit changes from 40mph, and shown by the black blobs on the map below. But these locations are far from the bridge itself, so this doesn’t not appear to serve the purpose they are intending to serve.

Black blobs show where speed limit changes

As per the Highway Code that:

You MUST NOT exceed the maximum speed limits for the road and for your vehicle (see the speed limits table). A speed limit of 30 mph (48 km/h), or 20mph (32km/h) in Wales, generally applies to all roads with street lights (excluding motorways) unless signs show otherwise.

30 mph repeater signs are not permitted on restricted roads; these are roads where there are street lights not more than 200 yards apart

Whilst I note the request for the County Council to take action, perhaps I should start by explaining that one of the County Council’s Key Priorities is to reduce the number of people who are either killed, or injured on our Road Network each year, and a significant budget exists towards such work, which is known as our Safety Engineering Program.

Each year a hazardous sites report is produced which highlights where there have been large frequencies of collisions for all roads within the county, from this information, Collision investigations are undertaken on a worst first basis. Remedial measures are then promoted which are seen to be the most appropriate way to treat the collision trends identified at the particular location. This can range from full scale traffic calming schemes (i.e. constructing speed humps etc.), to smaller scale works such as improving signage and road markings.

When HCC review collisions on the highway they know that there are three potential factors (Human Behaviour/ Vehicle/ Highway) and they always assess these when determining if remedial measures are appropriate and what form they could take.

Having checked the history for this location, this shows that this site would not qualify for consideration for Works under HCCs Safety Engineering Program. Therefore at the present time I am afraid that the County Council does not have any funds available within its Core Budgets to undertake any works, on the basis that this site does not meet the criteria for further investigations or potential funding.

As you are aware, I have been in touch with Batchworth Community Council who have agreed to fund half the works, this leave the other half to find. Unless BCC are willing to fund the entire project as one of local request, I am left looking at alternative funding pots, but this will take time and will depend on a successful application.

Experience shows it is local people who know the roads who zip through them. We ask all those in the area to be mindful of their speeds at all times.

I hope this helps

This document may be of interest to you:

Crossing comments

Three messages received Feb 25, 2024 – via Contact us form

Message 1:
I use the Batchworth Bridge crossing frequently and have no problem. I stop, check for oncoming traffic and only cross when it is safe to do so. Don’t blame the council, blame those who do not take responsibility for their own safety.

RDRA response:

Like you I use this crossing at least twice a day everyday and on some days more times than that as I live just off Harefield Road. I agree with you entirely that we are all responsible for our own safety and should always be aware of and be responsible how we negotiate our way in traffic  

However for those who are either very young or old and some other vulnerable or disabled people,( we’ve had a few near misses) this crossing can be made safer.

Let’s accept that this crossing can be improved and made more safer for all users. It’s not asking a lot to make some minor improvements. We do not need a fatality to do some common sense improvements. I do also accept that most county and local councils are overwhelmed and overstretched with limited resources so it’s not a priority until a major accident and fatalities occur.

Message 2:
We have lived in Rickmansworth for 39 years and I have lost count of the number of times pedestrians have been hit on Batchworth bridge. I think it’s time to up the ante. Get the BBC South East news out to the scene and have our MP and County Councillor down to be interviewed at the bridge. Have Watford Observer report on this. Get an interview and phone in arranged with 3 Counties Radio. They do push local issues. You only have a few weeks before HCC shut down on all activities in the run up to the local elections.

RDRA response:

Many thanks for your email. I agree with you that this crossing should be made safer. However, I believe that we will not get any media attention unless there is a fatality there. We do our best to lobby the relevant authorities. We’d appreciate if you have any contacts that you might be able to tap to raise the awareness and expedite the process for getting some positive responses from our county and district leaders.

Message 3:
My husband and I regularly have to use the crossing and every single time we approach with apprehension, having had many “near misses” over the 30yrs we have lived here, with cars not stopping .one lane will stop and a car in the other lane will not. We always stand as near the edge as poss to be as visible as we can.

If we reach the other side with no problems we are greatly relieved . The cars seem to accelerate from the traffic lights on one side or the roundabout from the other. Being a dual carriageway the drivers seem to think they can drive more quickly and are reluctant to stop for a crossing.

We have lived here for nearly 30th and this crossing has always been contentious and we do appreciate the efforts put in to try and improve safety but we cannot wait until the inevitable fatality,it’s a miracle it hasn’t happened already.

Accident discussion

Messages replying to RDRA X (Twitter) post:
Another accident today on Batchworth Bridge early this morning when it was still dark. Pedestrians with dark clothing cannot be seen by drivers! We have listed on our website what the RDRA tried to do over the years to make the bridge safer:

Message received Feb 22, 2024 – via X (Twitter):
As a driver it can be quite alarming how difficult it is to see pedestrians here. And as a walker, there seems to be an increasing tendency for drivers to plough on over the crossings even when people are on them.

Message received Feb 23, 2024 – via X (Twitter):
use crossing poles that also light up for extra safety. Why not try these @hertscc

Dangerous crossing on the bridge

Message received Feb 22, 2024 – via Contact us form

Anne Littlejohn asked me to contact you regarding a post I made on facebook warning others about the accident early Wednesday morning on Batchworth Bridge. Please send a whatsapp phone number and I will screenshot the post and all the comments on the post confirming how dangerous the crossing on the bridge is. I drive over it three mornings a week returning from a night shift and can confirm when it is dark it is virtually impossible to see pedestrians until they are on the crossing. I slow right down knowing this to be the case but if you dont realise this it is very very dangerous

RDRA response:

Many thanks for your email. My contact details as below.

Batchworth Bridge accident

Batchworth Bridge crossing

The RDRA have been warning about the safety of the Batchworth Bridge crossing and today, Wednesday 21st February, there was another accident.

The accident happened early in the morning (6.30am) but it was still dark and the pedestrian was unfortunately wearing dark clothes so could not be seen by the driver.

We wish the pedestrian well – we don’t know the extent of their injuries but an ambulance was called to the scene.

We’ve been campaigning for years for something to be done about the crossing as there have been multiple accidents and near misses over the years. It stands to reason that without action, one day there will be a fatality.

A history of the bridge:

  • A crossing with traffic lights requested – rejected by council.
  • An extra lighting lamp post requested – rejected by council.
  • Change of speed limit requested on Riverside Drive from 40mph to 30mph to match the speed limit on the bridge and on the roundabouts surrounding the bridge – rejected by council.
  • Improved Belisha beacons – rejected by council.
  • Painted ’30’ or ‘Slow’ on the ground at the start of the bridge requested – rejected by council.
  • Handheld device (SID) for monitoring speeds requested – agreed to but the pandemic happened and our training was scuppered. And we now don’t have enough people to attend, minimum 10 people needed.
  • Council removes grills from barriers to allow drivers to see when pedestrians are waiting to cross during the day.
  • Rumble strip requested – rejected by council.
  • Extra lighting was again requested – agreed to but would cost £60,000. HCC only willing to fund a third of this lighting cost.
  • Recently, we were told that extra funding could possibly come from the Police, if they reassess the safety of the bridge – we have the forms and paperwork to start this process off and would like to know your current views. Please contact us to let us know!

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And express your views direct to your local Councillors.

Click here to see previous RDRA posts about Batchworth Bridge