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Greater safety measures needed after 15 accidents in 5 years at ‘intimidating’ junction in Kenton

Residents are urging the Brent Council to install safety measures at an ‘intimidating’ junction near a school to make children safer and encourage more active travel. Since 2018 there have been 15 accidents at the four-way crossroads, leaving more parents opting to drive their kids to school instead of letting them walk or cycle.

More than 650 parents at St. Gregory’s Catholic Science College, as well as Kenton residents in general, recently signed a petition calling for pelican crossings to be installed at all four sections of the crossroads. They are calling on Brent Council to use funds to improve road safety at the junction of Woodcock Hill, Kenton Lane, and Kenton Road.

Speaking at a recent Brent Council Cabinet meeting (April 8), Project Manager at St. Gregory’s Catholic Science College and secretary to Kenton area Traders Association, Gail Hovey, told councillors that the crossing near the school is ‘unsafe’ and some of the younger pupils find it difficult to get across to the other side.

Reading an extract from a letter she says was sent to MP for Brent North Barry Gardiner by the school’s year 11 pupils, Ms Hovey said: “It is a crossroads that has cars coming from every direction. To cross, you have to catch the brief pause before the traffic lights turn green. This is incredibly difficult, particularly for pupils in the lower years who are repeatedly subjected to the dreaded wrath of a driver’s horn.”

Greater safety measures needed after 15 accidents in 5 years at 'intimidating' junction in Kenton Harrow Online
St Gregory\’s Catholic Science College. Gail Hovey said many students at St Gregory\’s Catholic Science College feel unsafe crossing the junction. Image Credit: Google Maps. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

Pupils at St. Gregory’s are actively involved in the Transport for London (TfL) Travel for Life scheme – a free accreditation programme that offers free educational programmes to schools across London to increase active travel – and is on course to achieve gold accreditation by the end of the academic year. However, a survey conducted on pupils at the school found that just under half (43 per cent) of Year 11 pupils didn’t feel fully confident in crossing the road.

Ms Hovey cites 15 incidents happening at the junction involving both pedestrians and cyclists, in the five years to January 2023. They comprise 11 collisions, three of which were pedestrians being hit by traffic and two which resulted in serious injury, and a further three incidents involved cyclists being struck by vehicles.

Ms Hovey said: “Another traffic incident resulted in a section of the pedestrian barrier being completely destroyed, [as well as] an incident that is not included in these figures as it happened very recently. This resulted in the only section of the pelican crossing currently in place at this junction being disabled by a car ploughing into the post on which it is attached.”

Kenton Road has two lanes of traffic in either direction but only one section of this stretch currently has a pelican crossing; it also is used by four different bus routes. Traffic filters into one particular section of the road from three different sections, which Ms Hovey said makes it ‘an extremely intimidating crossing for able bodied adults, let alone the elderly, those with disabilities, or for children’.

A study conducted by Brent’s Healthy Streets and Parking departments says it’s possible to install pedestrian facilities but these may be expensive and could increase delays to traffic and buses on Kenton Road. Ms Hovey suggests that a more detailed study is required to understand the impact on all road users, including pedestrians, and look at ways of reducing the number of vehicles that use the road and encourage more active travel.

She said: “When our school joined the TfL Travel for Life scheme in March 2023, 31 per cent of Year 7 children – that’s 60 children – travelled by car. They tell us this is because their parents feel it is unsafe for them to travel by public transport, cycle, or walk to school. By June, we’d improved the Year 7 figure to 24 per cent travelling by car, but this is still too high.”

She added: “Only 2 per cent of our pupils cycle to school, however, a further 17 per cent say this would be their preferred mode of transport were it safer for them to do so.”

A recent TfL Local Implementation Plan (LIP) report shows that £50,000 is being allocated to pedestrian safety improvements to Kenton Road and Ms Hovey asked the Cabinet to confirm whether this is for the installation of the pelican crossing over Woodcock Hill.

Council leader, Cllr Muhammed Butt, said: “I have to be honest, we used to receive about £3.5m for the local improvement projects that TfL used to fund. At the moment, we receive in the region of £1.5m to £2m and [we are] trying to prioritise all the different competing demands and requests that come in across the borough as well.

Greater safety measures needed after 15 accidents in 5 years at 'intimidating' junction in Kenton Harrow Online
Cllr Muhammed Butt. Cllr Muhammed Butt said the council will look at what improvements can be made to the junction. Image Credit: Brent Council. Permission to use with all LDRS partners

“We are having conversations with TfL […] and we will absolutely go back and reiterate to them the importance of [these measures] and trying to encourage active travel. I won’t be able to confirm the funding but will make sure it is confirmed in writing to you what that funding is actually going to be used for.”

Cllr Butt suggested there is a possibility of having a pelican crossing on three arms of the crossroads but explained that further conversations will need to take place, as well as having a look what’s under the road in case some of the utilities would need to be moved.

He said: “From the indications I have been given, it can take up to 12 to 18 months for some of those conversations and consultation exercises to take place. We are looking at the consultation to be in Autumn, 2025, in order to make sure we can take those things forward. We will take a look at the junction improvements, signage, and line markings just to make sure we can improve things.”

Cllr Butt says he will also ask officers to have a look at the feasibility of introducing cycle or active travel paths on the wide pavements along Kenton Road.