'Rat run' roads are a huge risk to children going to school, say campaigners

May 29 2021
'Rat run' roads are a huge risk to children going to school, say campaigners

PARENTS are calling on South Gloucestershire Council to take urgent action to improve road safety at two narrow roads which are used as "rat runs" by commuters.

A survey by campaigners revealed numerous near misses involving school children and pedestrians at Mill Road and Worrell's Lane, linking Winterbourne and Hambrook.

The council has told them it will assess the roads for safety funding but not until next year at the earliest – and campaigners say action is needed immediately.

Winterbourne and Frome Valley Environmental Group chair Laura Fogg-Rogers said: “Mill Road and Worrell's Lane are used as rat runs by car traffic and vans, and they do not pay attention to pedestrian safety.

"These roads are essential routes for children walking to Hambrook school, or cycling to Winterbourne Academy. 

 “We have gathered evidence from local residents about multiple incidents of people being clipped by wing mirrors, cars mounting the pavement in front of pedestrians, and children on bikes being aggressively driven at, with close passes. They face dangerous speeding and near misses every day on their walk or cycle to school. 

Children cycle up a narrow section of road past parked cars

“I have been taking this up with the Council for about two years, and they have finally agreed to decide whether to do something about it but not until 2022/23.

"This is clearly not good enough for our children's safety – and also for a Council which is meant to have declared a Climate Emergency, with the aim to reach Net Zero by 2030.

"Road crashes are the main cause of death for young people. This road is therefore a huge risk we take with our children everyday – and we just want to be able to walk to school in safety."

The group carried out a survey which was responded to by 294 people, of whom 80% backed a 20mph speed zone throughout Winterbourne.

Campaigners say this would also reduce air pollution and carbon emissions and bring significant long-term health benefits.

They are also calling for the narrow pavements on the two roads to be widened to improve safety for pedestrians using them.

One concerned parent who regularly uses Worrell’s Lane told the group she had her son's school bag knocked out of her hand by a passing vehicle, adding: "When two cars try to pass on the narrowest part they have to get so close to the path that it really is very dangerous."

Campaigners on a narrow section of footpath 

A council spokesperson said: "We have been asked to consider introducing measures along Mill Road and Worrell's Lane which support more use of active travel, including walking and cycling.

"We look into potential options when resources are available and we have already been working closely with schools in the area to educate young people on the importance of road safety, and to provide advice on travelling safely to, and from school."

Winterbourne ward councillors Nic Labuschagne and Trevor Jones said some changes were already being introduced in the area.

They said: "We are aware of the concerns of residents, particularly around pavement safety, and have been working with the school and the parental body to introduce changes that will improve safety for children.

"Following consultation with local parents, we are delighted to have already secured amendments to the double yellow lines locally, together with a reduction of the speed limit on Bristol Road to 30mph, which is set to take place over the coming year, and look forward to seeing how this makes a difference."


Campaigners from Winterbourne and Frome Valley Environmental Group and parents are calling for improvements 

Main picture: traffic squeezes past a parked car at the junction of Worrell's Lane and Moorend Road in Hambrook.