South London road has its speed limit cut by 10mph after fatal crash and near misses as drivers ‘use it like a drag strip’

Residents and councillors have succeeded in a campaign to reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph on Merton ’s St Helier Avenue. The red route joins the bustling Modern town centre with the busy Rose Hill roundabout.

The mile-long road has seen a number of pedestrian fatalities and near misses in recent years. A young father lost his life on the crossing two years ago, while an 80-year-old resident was also seriously injured in a collision on the thoroughfare in November last year.

Local resident, Joy Land, told the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS): “We have had a couple of fatalities but mainly near misses, because there aren’t masses of crossing places. That’s the trouble.”

Read more: London neighbourhood where cyclists ‘narrowly avoid being killed at dangerous junction’ as residents feel ‘unsafe’

“It’s a bit of a racetrack at different times of the day. Drivers see it and think, at last I can let off speed. “A lot of the ones who speed nip in and out of other vehicles. They’re not just driving faster, they’re driving dangerously.”

“I suspect people use this road because Bishopsford Road, on the other side of St Helier, is 30mph, with a large part also being 20mph. That is also a bit of a racetrack but there are far fewer collisions. We’ve been campaigning on this since the last incident, and there’s a lot of evidence that just reducing it by 10 mph will really make a difference.”

“I drive down the road myself and will admit, there is a big temptation to put your foot down when it’s clear. It’s a shame really because I can see the frustration for people. You see a bit of road and think I could just make up a bit of time. Unfortunately, this does have consequences on people.”

“A lot of pedestrians aren’t as able to make it to the crossings. Unfortunately, you need to be very fit to be able to walk to a crossing on that road. There aren’t many.”

“I’m in my 70s and my husband’s well into his 80s. We’ve lived alongside the road for years. We look down the road and think will I make it and make it back. This leads people to cross where they shouldn’t.”

Joy also called for the council and TfL to ensure the road’s two speed cameras are in full working order and suggested the implementation of a third would be useful to enforce the reduced limit.

TfL, who manage the red route, announced their intention to reduce the speed limit on Thursday 12th but have so far not confirmed a date for implementation. Residents suggests this is largely due to the cost of updating signage and other assessments.

Read more: Full list of London roads set for 20mph limit as TfL plans to slow down drivers

Commenting on TFL’s announcement, campaign lead Cllr Helena Dollimore told the LDRS: “We have seen far too many accidents on St Helier Avenue, including a tragic incident two years ago where a young father lost his life. Since then, I have worked with local residents to call on TfL to make this road safer by having a safer speed limit.”

“This new 30mph limit will make St Helier Avenue safer for everyone. I would like to thank all the residents for their support. But it does not stop there, we also want to see the road made safer with better pedestrian crossings and proper enforcement of the speed limit.”

Cllr Stephen Alambritis, cabinet member for transport on Merton Council added: “It has been good to work with Helena, the residents fronting St Helier Avenue, Merton council’s Highways team and with TfL. This result shows what can be achieved with partnership working involving residents and their elected representatives.”

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