Councillors in Bath and North East Somerset have once again called for action on a cycle lane dubbed "the most dangerous street in the UK" that caused 59 injuries in its first year in use after pedestrians repeatedly tripped on an "optical illusion" caused by unobvious changes in kerb height.
The cycling infrastructure on Keynsham High Street has attracted national attention since its installation in March of last year, with at least 76 injuries reported since then. In April, Conservative MP Jacob Rees-Mogg weighed in on the situation in his North East Somerset constituency, calling the lane a "failed experiment" after a Freedom of Information request unveiled the number of injuries reported.
It should go back to being a two way street. This experiment has failed.https://t.co/WFHQpj8HHl
— Jacob Rees-Mogg (@Jacob_Rees_Mogg) April 26, 2023
Rees-Mogg called for the route to return to a two-way street, while locals reported tripping due to the "optical illusion" caused by a "pale-coloured kerb and a pale-coloured line that look exactly the same" but are at different heights.
In the past year, works have been undertaken to reduce the trip risk — with tarmac painted red in August last year before it appeared the infrastructure would stay in place after a cross-party group of councillors recently withdrew its plan to commit the council to investigate works on it.
However, Bristol Live today reports that while the council has agreed to further works in January, committing to painting markings to warn people, councillors have also begun to float the idea that the high street could be pedestrianised and those on bicycles banned from riding through.
That would require a public consultation, Keynsham East councillor Hal McFie telling a council cabinet meeting that it has been "agreed that the best way out of the current impasse was to pedestrianise the High Street, with the ward councillors pushing to make it a cycle-free area".
He said: "This could only happen if there was a positive attitude by shopkeepers and residents so the first step was to draw up an outline plan and present it to the Keynsham population in the 2024-25 financial year."
In the meantime, a meeting between Keynsham ward councillors and the council "agreed to apply more visual cues that would warn residents of an impending change in ground level".
Liberal Democrat Mr McFie has formed a cross-party alliance with other councillors, Conservative figure Alan Hale adding that if the next works do not improve the situation "then clearly I would want to see some physical measures taken".
Keynsham North councillor Alex Beaumont asserted he is "all in favour of pedestrianising the high street", but admitted there was a need to consider how disabled people's access could be accommodated.
Acknowledging the pressure from councillors, cabinet member for transport Manda Rigby said "there will be consultations around what any potential pedestrianisation of the High Street could look like as there has already been a desire for this expressed by ward councillors talking with the local community".
"We are taking short-term measures via putting more painted lines to further mitigate any incorrect perception of pavement/bike lane/roadway levels," she said.
At the time of Rees-Mogg's spring comments, one person injured while walking along the high street said they had rolled their ankle and "landed on my right knee, wrist, and shoulder in the road" after "expecting a flat surface which wasn't there".
By the time the lane was painted red in August 2022, five months after opening, 46 people had been injured. The most recent figure is at least 76, that despite more works in June of this year to repair broken paving slabs.
As of June, 21 people had pursued legal action against the Liberal Democrat-run Keynsham Council having claimed to have been injured by the lane, with seven of the personal injury compensation claims being rejected. The remaining 14 are under investigation.
Dan joined road.cc in 2020, and spent most of his first year (hopefully) keeping you entertained on the live blog. At the start of 2022 he took on the role of news editor. Before joining road.cc, Dan wrote about various sports, including football and boxing for the Daily Express, and covered the weird and wonderful world of non-league football for The Non-League Paper. Part of the generation inspired by the 2012 Olympics, Dan has been 'enjoying' life on two wheels ever since and spends his weekends making bonk-induced trips to the petrol stations of the south of England.