Horror scene crossing needs urgent action’

BETTER crossings need to be installed in West Hampstead if last week s tragedy is to be avoided, say traders

Ed Thomas

BETTER crossings need to be installed in West Hampstead if last week's tragedy is to be avoided, say traders.

A man lost his leg while crossing West End Lane on Monday after he was involved in a collision with a lorry going through the junction with Iverson Road.

People in the area have warned for some time that such an accident has been waiting to happen.

Sanjay Pattni, from Joule jeweller's store next to the accident scene, said: "If you speak to most people around here, they all say there's not a lot of time to cross the road because of the traffic lights at the junction.

"There are always a lot of big lorries and trucks and buses coming through all the time and the footpaths are too narrow. Something needs to be done."

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Chairman of the West Hampstead Small Traders And Residents' Association, Jitendra Thakorlal, said he had been flagging up the dangers with Camden Council and Transport for London for some time.

The estate agent said: "The sequence on the traffic lights needs to be changed because there's no opportunity for pedestrians to cross safely.

"It's too dangerous - especially in the mornings and evenings when hundreds of people are walking down the road to and from the station. We have been lucky in the past that there hasn't been a serious accident but now there has been. The authorities need to address the problems."

The accident victim, who was in his 50s, was flown by air ambulance to hospital.

His condition is described as serious but stable.

The West Hampstead Amenity and Transport group has carried out tests at the junction which show the lights operate at the legal minimum for giving people time to cross. Member John Saynor said: "There is a lot of conflict between pedestrians and vehicles at this spot. The lights are barely legal at the moment, giving people only a few seconds before cars are given the green light again."

A TfL spokeswoman said the junction was the responsibility of Camden Council. But she added: "TfL would be happy to discuss road safety issues at this junction with the borough. If a suitable solution can be agreed, TfL would then provide financial assistance to implement any remedial measures from its road safety budget."

A Camden Council spokeswoman said: "To balance the needs of all users the council upgraded the junction in summer 2003 by introducing an 'all red' stage to the signals. This means that traffic on West End Lane and Iverson Road now comes to a complete stop and the green man is activated allowing pedestrians to cross Iverson Road as well as the two sides of West End Lane safely. The pavements opposite and outside the Silverlink Station were also widened as part of the improvements.

"Camden Council and TfL are currently investigating further ways to improve the interchange facilities between the three stations along West End Lane."