By Cynthia Floud - 16th February 2021 2:00pm
A recent survey of parental opinion in our primary schools concludes that vehicles go too fast in the village.
Two hundred parents took part in the survey and parents at all three Haddenham schools were so keen to give their views on travel to and from school, that 40% took part. They have given us first hand evidence of the problems they face everyday and 79% wanted a village-wide 20 mph limit.
Again and again they say, Haddenham is not a safe village for their children to cycle or scoot to school. They list the excess speed of vehicles, the parked cars and the state of the road surfaces, "pools of water.... sprayed onto walkers by drivers going too fast". Above all they hate the pavements; "Sort out the terrible pavements". The overcrowded pavements make it... "difficult passing children on scooters... bikes and people with buggies"; many pavements are too narrow and in bad condition, with rough surfaces to unseat the small scooterists and cyclists. The pavements feel unsafe, which leads some to choose to drive to school when they used to walk. This is an alarming state of affairs.
Thirty per cent of the village's school population have to be driven to school because they do not live in the village, there are no school buses and the roads into Haddenham are not safe for cyclists. Where should these parents park their cars?
But what about the roads? Many are in poor condition with potholes and they are challenging to cross safely. Thame Road, Fort End, Stanbridge Road and the Churchway roundabouts are singled out as the most dangerous, but Church End can be hazardous too. Despite its pedestrian crossing, Woodways is a worry: "Please make Woodways a pedestrian-only zone, even if just for pick-up and drop-off times".
A majority of these parents walk their children to school and a few cycle. Among those completing the survey, fifty-nine families have tried cycling to school, but given up because they found it too dangerous! More would cycle, "if it was a lot safer to do so", and would like a network of cycle lanes. They wish the current pop-up lane would go right up to the schools and be two-way. However it has other advantages, "I love the new feeling of walking on the pavement well away from cars (on the bend next to the cycle lane)".
This report is worth reading for us all; parents are voicing many of the concerns of other older villagers who trip up on pavements, are forced onto the road and also feel the danger of a walk through the village. "The roads in Haddenham were not designed for this amount of traffic". They were not; how can we redesign and reprioritise our public space, so that pedestrians and wheelchairs come first, followed by scooters, cycles and mobility scooters, with all other vehicles last? Should cars and vans give way to pedestrians?
Read this report and decide for yourself. We all want to feel safe walking or cycling round Haddenham.
With thanks to Angela Matthews, our Secretary, who has worked long and hard, with a bit of help from me, on producing the survey report, her seventh parental survey; to all three schools; and particularly to all the parents who have taken part.
Chair, Haddenham Safe Walking & Cycling Group
The full analysis and the questionnaire are available by clicking of the attached PDF.