Call to scrap Keynsham High Street cycle lane after 59 injuries

A TOTAL of 59 people have now been injured on Keynsham High Street, where an “optical illusion” cycle lane was installed last year.

Keynsham South councillor Alan Hale, pictured, who obtained the figures through a freedom of information request sent to Bath and North East Somerset Council, warned that someone could suffer fatal injuries on the road.

A new cycle lane was opened along the High Street in March last year after nine months of work, beginning an odd phenomenon of people falling in the street.

One person who fell described the cycle lane as an “optical illusion” as there were kerbs and painted white lines which looked similar to each other.

A total of 21 people have pursued personal injury compensation claims against the council in relation to the road. Seven of these have been rejected but the rest remain open and under investigation.

The council stated that no insurance claims have currently been settled and no other payments have been made to anyone.

Mr Hale said he had been contacted about people falling “since day one” but had simply been told by council officers that they were “monitoring” the situation.

He said: “There can be no other local authority in the country that has created a development that has succeeded in seriously injuring 59 people at least and have done nothing to address the situation. We are elected to make our community safe, not to inflict significant injuries. To make it safe we need the administration and officers to take positive action, not sit on their hands.”

Some work has been done on the cycle lane with the hope of reducing the number of falls. The lane, which had been plain tarmac, was painted red in August in response to – at that time – 46 incidents of people falling.

Mr Hale said: “At my suggestion they changed the colour of the tarmacadam of the lane but that did not achieve a cessation in injuries, and since then there has been no further action, save the monitoring.”

Mr Hale has called for the cycle lane to be removed in the interests of public health and safety.

But Councillor Mark Roper, the council’s cabinet member for economic development, regeneration and growth, defended the council’s response to the issues.

He said: “The new Keynsham High Street cycle lane is built to the government’s current LTN120 standards, and when some early problems were identified with the double kerb down to the road surface, a series of mitigations were put in place which has had the effect of substantially reducing the number of reported incidents.

“However we have now commissioned a Stage 4 Road Safety to suggest further improvements and mitigations and prevent any further issues. This will report back early in the next administration.

“All reported falls are carefully examined, including by CCTV, to establish where and why they happen. We have worked with the town council and local councillors to make sure we record all incidents.

“The council takes this issue very seriously and is working hard to deliver further improvements.”

He added that between January and March there had been, on average, 2.3 recorded incidents per month.

He added: “We actively seek out details on incidents when we hear of them, even if they have not been officially recorded.”

But he defended the works done to the High Street, saying: “The Keynsham High Street regeneration programme has been a great success, reducing traffic and making it a much more pleasant environment for shoppers and visitors, and as a result we are seeing increased footfall from pre-pandemic levels and strong demand for retail space.”

John Wimperis, Local Democracy Reporting Service