Pupils and teachers at a primary school located on a road where three speeding motorists have crashed in the space of three months – one colliding with and flattening the school’s bike racks – have staged a protest calling on the council to introduce a 20mph speed limit and traffic-calming measures on the road, before a child “gets seriously injured”.
Barton Park Primary School opened in September 2020 as part of a new 885-home development and is located between Headington and Marston, about three miles outside Oxford city centre.
However, due to legal issues related to land ownership, Barton Fields Road, on which the school is situated, has not yet been adapted as part of Oxfordshire County Council’s city-wide 20mph “transformation programme”, which aims to roll out lower default speed limits in built-up areas where there is local support – despite a 20mph limit being implemented elsewhere in the Barton Park development in August.
And since September, three speeding motorists have been involved in collisions on the road, two of which have occurred directly outside the school’s gates. One of the incidents, which took place on 6 October, saw a driver crash into a houseowner’s stationary vehicle, prompting the police to launch an investigation into dangerous driving. A separate crash also saw motorist collide with a brick wall opposite the school.
(Credit: Danny Yee)
And in a third incident, the school’s CCTV footage captured a motorist crashing into and destroying many of the children’s bicycle racks.
On Tuesday, the school’s pupils and teachers staged a protest urging the council to take action, with the children brandishing signs reading “20 is plenty” and “keep our roads safe”, while chanting “Our school is a safe place, don’t use it for your race”, the Oxford Mail reports.
The school’s headteacher Bryony McCraw also called on Oxfordshire County Council to install a 20mph limit on the road which could be enforced by police, as well as speed cameras, speed bumps, and a safe road crossing, with a petition demanding such measures reaching over 150 signatures so far.
“My question to the council is: ‘How long is it going to take to adopt the road and make it safe?’,” McCraw said.
“Is it going to take until all the houses have gone up or a child is seriously injured? The parents are really worried about it. The parents came to me at the beginning of the year and said, ‘what can we do to move this forward?’”
The headteacher continued: “I think it’s really serious. There was that awful story back in the summer about the child that was tragically killed within their own school grounds in Wimbledon when a car mounted the kerb.
“I can see that happening here. People might say the speeding happens after school hours, but the children play outside.
“It would be too easy to bash into a child. At the very least we should get signs up really quickly.”
Meanwhile, one local described the road layout as a “bus route, rather than as somewhere eight-year-old kids can safely cycle mixed with motor traffic”.
One of the protesters, year four pupil Tayo, also told the local paper: “I think it is important to stop people speeding past our school, because one day one person might be playing outside or crossing the road and someone could get hit by a car speeding past.”
Nine-year-old Saffiya concurred: “As we start to go into year six, some of us might start walking to school on our own and if speeding is still happening someone could get really injured.”
Responding to the concerns, a spokesperson for Oxfordshire County Council said: “The legal agreement for the adoption of the road outside the school is being held up by land ownership issues. We are working hard to resolve it, but it involves several parties, so it is taking some time. We cannot adopt the road without a Highways Act legal agreement being in place.
“Oxfordshire County Council cannot carry out speed enforcement, this can only be done by the police.
“We are asking the developer to install repeater signs, so that Thames Valley Police can legally carry out enforcement. The road has been designed with a 20mph limit in mind.”
Ryan joined road.cc in December 2021 and since then has kept the site’s readers and listeners informed and enthralled (well at least occasionally) on news, the live blog, and the road.cc Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as road.cc’s senior news writer. Before his foray into cycling journalism, he wallowed in the equally pitiless world of academia, where he wrote a book about Victorian politics and droned on about cycling and bikes to classes of bored students (while taking every chance he could get to talk about cycling in print or on the radio). He can be found riding his bike very slowly around the narrow, scenic country lanes of Co. Down.