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Bus station crossings 'illegal and unsafe’

By Danny Boyle
New zebra crossing at Chatham bus station
New zebra crossing at Chatham bus station


Zebra crossings painted at Chatham's new bus station are illegal and could lead to injustices in court.

That is the warning of a retired highway engineer with Medway Council, who spoke this week to criticise the new crossings as a disabled group raised safety concerns.

Stripes were painted on the road last Wednesday after passengers claimed the £7 million "dynamic bus facility" in Globe Lane was unsafe.

Yet David Fulbrook, who worked in the council's highways department until 2009, said they are illegal without flashing orange lights.

zebra law

according to the zebra, pelican and puffin pedestrian crossings regulations and general directions 1997, belisha beacons are needed to make a crossing legal and draw attention to it.

these are the orange flashing globes on either side of a zebra crossing, introduced by transport minister leslie hore-belisha in 1934.

the orange balls must be between 27.5cm and 33.5cm wide, and the black-and-white poles they are mounted on must be between 2.1m and 3.1m high.

only dented or unlit globes are allowed under the laws. any other problem, or missing globes, makes the whole crossing illegal.

any new crossings must also be advertised in the local press for three weeks before they are signed off.

The 62-year-old said: "If anybody steps on to that crossing and gets hit by a bus driver who doesn't stop, some smart lawyer is going to say: 'Well, the crossing wasn't legal, the person shouldn't have been there.'

"I applaud the council for doing it, as they have obviously responded to what the public wanted, but obviously they didn't think about what they were doing in the first place.

"On balance they have done a very good PR exercise, but if they're going to do something they should do it legally."

The new terminal replaced the Pentagon bus station and opened last Monday £2million over its original estimate.

Some passengers complained toilets and electronic screens were not running, while others said the station would be cold in winter.

Mr Fulbrook, of Broadway, Gillingham, worked for the council for 40 years and said he probably helped build every crossing in Medway.

Derek Lynch, chairman of the Medway Access Group for disabled residents, said: "They should put in Belisha beacons for a start, but my big problem is still safety. The road markings are there, but I do not expect they will install pedestrian control lights for partially-sighted people, as it would interrupt the flow of traffic."

A Medway Council spokesman said: "Pedestrians are crossing at the correct places, we have speed bumps in place and visibility for buses and pedestrians is very good.

"We have dropped kerbs and tactile paving for people with visual impairment and staff are on hand to help in the information centre.

"This contrasts sharply with the old bus station, which had no working crossings, was dark and dingy and could only be accessed after 7pm by a winding staircase or the ramp used by buses."

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