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“Extremely intimidating and unsafe” junction and impatient drivers stopping children cycling to school and forcing them into cars, students, teachers, and parents say, after 11 collisions in five years

Only two per cent of pupils cycle to a school near the junction – despite a further 17 per cent saying they would like to if it were safe – while a quarter of students travel by car

Students, pupils, and teachers at a school aiming to encourage active travel have called on the local authority to install safety measures at a crossroads described as “unsafe and extremely intimidating”, after 11 incidents which saw pedestrians or cyclists hit by motorists in the past five years.

The junction’s unsafe reputation – made all the more difficult by the “dreaded wrath of a driver’s horn”, pupils claim – means that only two per cent of the school’s students cycle, despite a further 17 per cent saying they would prefer to ride their bike if it were safe to do so. In contrast, last year almost a third of children travelled to school by car, though this figure has dropped to 24 per cent thanks to the school’s efforts to promote walking and cycling.

Almost 700 parents and local residents have signed a petition calling on Brent Council to install pelican crossings at all four sections of the large and busy junction of Woodcock Hill, Kenton Lane, and Kenton Road in the Kenton area of the London Borough of Brent.

Currently, despite featuring two lanes of traffic in all four directions and being used by four different bus routes, Kenton Road only has a pelican crossing on one section, My London reports. Traffic also filters into one particular section of the road from three different directions, a situation one teacher at nearby St. Gregory’s Catholic Science College says makes it “an extremely intimidating crossing for able bodied adults, let alone the elderly, those with disabilities, or for children”.

Speaking at a Brent Council Cabinet meeting this week, Gail Hovey, a project manager at the school, told councillors that the crossing is “unsafe” and that younger pupils find it difficult to navigate safely.

> “Currently, it is not safe for some children to cycle to school”: Sustrans’ Head of Behaviour Change on “fostering a culture of active travel” in schools

Reading an extract from a letter sent by the school’s Year 11 pupils to Barry Gardiner, the Labour MP for Brent North, 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.”

St Gregory’s is actively involved in Transport for London’s Travel for Life scheme, which offers free educational programmes to school across the city to encourage active travel, and is on course to achieve a gold accreditation by the end of the year.

However, a recent survey of pupils at the school found that almost half (43 per cent) of Year 11 pupils didn’t feel fully confident crossing at the Kenton Road junction, where 15 incidents involving pedestrians and cyclists took place between 2018 and 2023. Of those 15 incidents, 11 were collisions which saw three cyclists and three pedestrians hit by motorists (two suffering serious injuries).

“Another traffic incident resulted in a section of the pedestrian barrier being completely destroyed. While another incident, that is not included in these figures as it happened very recently, 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,” Ms Hovey said.

> Mum compares school run to “going into battle” as Sustrans calls for School Streets to be introduced in Northern Ireland

She added that the intimidating nature of the junction is putting children off walking and cycling to school, and forcing them into cars, despite the school’s best efforts.

“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,” she says.

“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.

“Only two 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 study conducted by Brent Council’s Healthy Streets and Parking departments concluded that the installation of pedestrian facilities at the junction is possible, but warned that the required safety upgrades will be expensive and could cause delays to traffic and buses on Kenton Road.

> School bike racks destroyed by speeding, out-of-control motorist, as pupils and teachers stage protest demanding introduction of 20mph limit

Ms Hovey asked the council meeting if the £50,000 reportedly being allocated to pedestrian safety improvements on Kenton Road will include the installation of a pelican crossing.

In response, council leader 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.

“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. 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.”

Butt also said he will ask officers to assess the feasibility of introducing cycle lanes or active travel paths on the wide pavements along Kenton Road.

> Parents angry that children are being taught to cycle in middle of lane and other “risky behaviour” by cycling instructors, says Bikeability

The barriers to active travel for schoolchildren in Brent appear to echo the general feeling shared by students and parents across the UK, with Bikeability chief executive Emily Cherry noting earlier this year that fewer children are cycling to school due to concerns about road safety.

“We have record numbers of children coming through the programme, [but] that’s not converting to children and families regularly cycling, because parents are still too worried about road safety and traffic danger,” Cherry said in February.

“There are not enough safe routes to schools, we’ve got quite hostile attitudes between drivers and cyclists on the roads, and we don’t have enough safe, segregated cycling infrastructure, which is what parents really want for their children to keep them safe.”

Ryan joined 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 Podcast. After boarding a wrong bus at the world championships and ruining a good pair of jeans at the cyclocross, he now serves as’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.

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Matthew Acton-Varian | 1 month ago

School drop-offs are getting ridiculous. I am glad that when I take my son by bike that we can avoid any major roads, however it still doesn't stop idiots parking in ways that block the roads and the pavements. I have seen - and I am not exaggerating - drive 1/3 of a mile to do the school run. They have no kids at another school, and I have seen them drive to the school, and back, no detour. A walk that would take 5 minutes. It's slower to drive and they still do it.

For reference I live in a former industrial town with a lot of narrow streets, especially around the school. The road is only wide enough for 2 cars and the pavements are too small to fit more than two people side by side.

brooksby | 1 month ago

How on earth does a junction like that- which looks to have shops all around it, as a local high street type place - only have one crossing? 

Do tell me more about the war on motorists, mayoral candidate Susan Hall 

marmotte27 replied to brooksby | 1 month ago

I resent right-wingers particularly for the time and space that, despite my best efforts, their bollocks takes up in my head.
As I've said on here before, the bafflement at their sheer existence, and the desperation that anybody actually votes for that shit...

rct | 1 month ago

Commuted down the Kenton Road for >20 years.  Been knocked off twice, but either side of that particular junction.  The road surface is attrocious, traffic is dangerous, with appalling driving standards even when congested.  Bus lanes intermiitent so buses get delayed due to cars merging or parked.  I belive the car brained Cllr Butt, is putting the potential delays to delays to traffic ahead of childrens and pedestrian safety.  He obviously isn't worried about buses else they would extend the bus lane,

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