An Exeter Green councillor and Green Party candidate who have been campaigning for safer crossings by Sidwell Point leisure centre, the bus station and Vue Cinema organised a ‘walkabout’ with those who experience difficulties crossing roads in the area.
Heavitree councillor, Carol Bennett, and Green Party candidate for the Newtown and St Leonard’s ward, Dr Andy Ketchin, met people with buggies and small children, older children wishing to travel independently, those with limited mobility or in wheelchairs and people pushing bikes - due to the dangers of cycling around the roundabout. They showed Cllr Bennett and Dr Ketchin the problems they encounter.
Councillor Carol Bennett said:
“We are hugely grateful to all the people who came to our walkabout and shared their experiences. We were able to see first-hand the difficulties they face crossing the roads in this area.
“Responses to our earlier survey also paint a worrying picture . Parents don't feel it is safe to let older children walk or cycle because of the roundabout; people feel that they 'take their life in their hands' when they use the crossings and people have to walk a considerable extra distance to use suggested crossing points that aren't really safe or proper crossings at all. This situation is completely unacceptable.”
Dr Andy Ketchin, Green candidate in Newtown and St Leonards, the ward where the Western Way roundabout is situated, said:
“A plan for active travel was completely absent from the development plans for Sidwell Point and the Bus Station. This was a hugely missed opportunity. It was a chance to build in safe walking and cycling routes and crossings points - to redesign the whole area so it balances pedestrians needs with all road users. Instead we are left with an area which solely prioritises vehicular movements and leaves those using active travel having to take a roundabout route - quite literally - and navigate a series of inadequate or downright dangerous crossings.
“Yet despite many residents sharing their experiences of the difficulties they encounter, the Labour run Council claims there’s no problem. They only need to look out the window of the Civic Centre. The inadequate and dangerous crossings are right under their nose.
“We need the Labour-run City Council to acknowledge there is a problem that needs fixing. We will continue to campaign for Exeter and Devon Councils to work together on solutions. We believe there are some straightforward and low cost answers that would improve things in the short term, whilst a complete redesign of the area is planned in the longer term.”