Plea for Runcton school crossing to be safer

Parents of children walking to and from a primary school have started a petition to improve the safety of a road crossing in Runcton – before it is too late.

Some residents have said the crossing by the Walnut Tree roundabout has become too dangerous for youngsters to use on their journey to and from North Mundham Primary School.

A petition was started by resident Melanie Jack to call for road safety improvements in Runcton, and so far it is believed more than 300 people have signed up to it.

Residents are hoping to hand the petition over to West Sussex County Council (WSCC).

Helen Alexander of Runcton Lane wrote to the Observer and said: “For years I have walked my children to school every day. My children have had near-misses with cars on many occasions.

“We are asking for the crossing at the Walnut Tree roundabout to be made safe. It seems to be designed for cars not pedestrians, is in the wrong place and allows traffic to move too quickly at the roundabout.

“We can only cross the road now if a driver stops for us; there are no longer any gaps in the traffic. In the meantime we have businesses lobbying the council for bigger, faster roads at ever-growing cost and diminishing benefit. Go ahead, build the road – it will soon fill up with speeding cars.

“It is now September and there will be many families trying to walk their children to school across the country.”

Mrs Alexander said it is very sad car drivers take “a higher priority” than children walking to school.

She added: “Do we really have to wait for a child to be hit by a car before safety measures are taken?”

However there could be good news for residents.

WSCC spokeswoman Philippa Eld said: “We are hoping to carry out some work to introduce some additional white lines at the crossing points which will effectively reduce the two-lane approach to the roundabout to a one-lane approach.

“This will hopefully make it easier for people to cross the road. We will monitor the effectiveness of these measures and will consider further improvements in the future if appropriate.

“The county council supports school communities through the promotion and delivery of sustainable travel initiatives as part of our Safer Routes to School programme.

“Improving safety and accessibility for the journey to and from school is very important to us.

“We would like to invite Mrs Alexander to liaise with the school’s headteacher and potentially join the school’s travel plan working group to help review her concerns and any other related issues.

“In support of this, and at the school’s invitation, our school travel advisor would be happy to work more closely with the school community to investigate the potential for improvements.”

The council’s Safer Routes to School projects are developed in partnership with local schools, district and borough councils and the Sussex Police.

They aim to reduce car travel and increase the use of more sustainable ways of getting to school, such as walking and cycling, car sharing, and public transport.

They also aim to improve road safety and raise awareness of the impact of transport on the environment and on personal health.

Schools wishing to develop a Safer Routes to School scheme should first develop a School Travel Plan. For further information contact the county council on its general enquiries number, which is 01243 777100.