on the Roads
Pedestrian Guard Rails : Experiment Inaugurated in
the Municipal Journal and Public Works Engineer, March
Courtesy of Laura Eddowes
Since the Minister of Transport
announced his intention to erect guard rails along the
edges of pavements at certain points for the protection
of pedestrians at places where the pedestrian traffic is
unduly heavy or the road traffic unduly, dense, a good
deal of attention has been directed to the proposal. The
idea is not a new one. It is a development of the
barrier which, for many years, has been erected outside
school gates giving direct access to busy thoroughfares.
These barriers have been an undoubted success, but even
so accidents still occur.
Another form of barrier from which
the idea for the type suggested at present has probably
grown is the kind erected at busy tram or bus stops.
This may be seen at many places in Paris. The type of
barrier which is now being erected has been used on the
continent for some years. Examples of its use may be
seen in Copenhagen, and it is reported from this town
that the barriers are a success. It does not necessarily
follow, however, that what is a success in one town will
be a success in another.
London, in particular, cannot be
governed by this assumption. The Metropolis presents a
traffic problem which has no equal anywhere in the
world, and many devices which have been attended with
outstanding success in other towns have proved to be
quite useless, when applied to the problems of London.
Experiments in the use of guard
rails have been tried by certain borough councils on
their own initiative. At Wolverhampton pedestrian guard
rails, made from steel tubes, have been erected at a
dangerous crossroad where the difficulties of the
ordinary cross traffic have been added to by the fact
that the trolley buses make a hairpin turn.
Breaks in the barriers occur at
points where pedestrian crossings extend out into the
road on which the pedestrian, theoretically, is safe.
Generally speaking, the experiment has been regarded as
a success; it has been in progress since July of last
year. Derby and Salford have somewhat similar railings
erected in their areas.
In the Metropolis Bethnal Green
Borough Council, has made an experiment. In this borough
a noted danger spot existed at the Bonner Hall Gate of
the Victoria Park. Many accidents had occurred here, and
the Council, feeling that some definite measure of
protection was necessary, decided to erect barriers to
separate the vehicle traffic from the pedestrian
More protection for the pedestrian. The
Bonner Hall Gate entrance to
Victoria Park, Bethnal Green, once a noted danger spot.
|In this case, instead of employing steel tubes with
three horizontal bars between the posts, as at
Wolverhampton, or with two horizontal bars, as at Derby,
the Council decided to erect wooden posts of stout oak
with a single horizontal bar near the top, and to paint
the whole in black and white rectangles, matching the
The result is that the barriers stand out
conspicuously, and this is necessary, as can be seen
from the picture, the central barrier rails off what was
a portion of the traffic road, so that iron railings
which would not be so easily visible might cause
accidents instead of preventing them.
Among experts, opinion is sharply
divided as to the advisability of such barriers. Some
flatly disagree with them, while others are inclined to
think they might be a success. It is possible, of
course, that they may cause congestion among the
pedestrians themselves, thus raising other difficulties
which do not at present exist in any marked degree.
Others are very much in favour of them.
Is it possible to educate the
public in such a way that they will use facilities such
as these, which are erected for their benefit?
The actual barriers erected at
Wolverhampton were made by Steelway, Ltd., and fit into
patented sockets which enable the standards to be
removed if required; at the same time they are perfectly
This result has been obtained after
long and careful experiment and with the cooperation and
assistance of Mr. Edwin Tilley (Chief Constable,
Wolverhampton), and Mr. H. B. Robinson, M. Inst. M. &
Cy. E., Borough Engineer and Surveyor, Wolverhampton.
|The standards cannot be removed until the chains are
detached; in addition, a screwed locking pin is also
provided. These precautions, whilst giving the advantage
of removable standards ensure that they cannot be taken
out by unauthorised persons. The illustration shows a
spot where an accident to a boy actually occurred. It
will be observed that the guard prevents pedestrians
walking off what is practically a blind corner. They are
forced to face the traffic before stepping from the
Pedestrian guard rails at
Wolverhampton, made from S & L Tubes,
supplied to Messrs. Steelway Ltd.
|The motorist, too, has a greater sense of security
and is released of a certain amount of anxiety. The
guard in itself provides a warning to motorists that a
crossing exists and they are prepared for it.
Mr. Hore-Belisha, M.P., Minister
of Transport, opens pedestrian
guard rails in London.
The Minister of Transport attended
a short ceremony on the occasion of the opening of the
guard rails at Camden Town on Tuesday of this week, and
hooked the last link in the chains to the last post
which the Mayor of St. Pancras had placed in position,
the rails being of the post and chain type.
The Chief Constable of Northampton,
where pedestrian guard rails are already in use, was
also present at the function. Mr. Hore Belisha
said that the barriers would serve a dual purpose; they
would be a material contribution to road safety at St.
Pancras, and they would arouse in the minds of the
public locally the consciousness of road dangers.
The experimental scheme for the
installation of pedestrian guard rails at various
junctions in London, sponsored by the Ministry of
Transport, is being further extended in different parts
of the Metropolis. The latest additions to the scheme
are the two sets of guard rails in the Streatham area.
Guard rails are also in use in the New Cross Road and
the Lewisham High Road. The first guard rails of the
present type, it will be recalled, were those erected at
Camden Town, St. Pancras. These are of the post and
chain variety, with certain of the chains made in such a
way that they can be unhooked if necessary.
So far no official report has been
issued as regards the result of this experiment, but it
may be said that on the whole they are regarded as
generally satisfactory. The number of accidents to
pedestrians occurring at this junction has been reduced
since the introduction of the guards, but during the
busy part of the day certain of the pedestrians show a
tendency to disregard the barriers and walk in the road.
Following closely on the St.
Pancras section of the experiment were the guards
erected at Whitechapel, in the Stepney area. Here
again, though no official report has been issued,
they are generally regarded as satisfactory. A
further installation was opened recently at the
Broadway, Hammersmith, a well known danger spot,
where six roads, all of which carry heavy traffic,
meet, and where trams cross diagonally through the
circus formed by the roads.
These guard rails, unlike those
at Camden Town, are made of steel tubes, and hinged
gates with a latch are provided. At Bethnal Green
the guard rails are stated to be a great success.
The large number of accidents which occurred at this
comer have declined considerably as a result of the
erection of these guards.
At Croydon pedestrian guard
rails have been erected in conjunction with a
pedestrian crossing. The particular feature about
the crossing is that, instead of its being placed at
the end of the road which it crosses, it is some
little distance up the road, and the guard rails,
which, as at St. Pancras, take the form of chains,
guide the pedestrian to the crossing and prevent him
from stepping off the pavement close to the road
A corner guard
rail (Steelway Limited,
One of the advantages of this
crossing is that the pedestrian, when crossing, does not
have to look over his shoulder for filtration traffic,
for since the crossing is not at the end of the road,
the filtration traffic has turned the comer before the
pedestrian has to take account of it. The idea is a help
to the driver also, since he gets a clearer view of
pedestrians on a crossing if they are straight ahead
than if he is approaching them while turning a comer.
This system of guard rails holds
many possibilities for extension. In such streets as
Oxford Street, London, a busy shopping centre and a road
which carries very heavy traffic, there is a constant
danger caused by persons being forced to step off the
pavement into the road because the pedestrian traffic is
so heavy that there is no room for them on the pavement.
At each cross-road there are traffic lights and
pedestrian. crossings, and the possibility of erecting
guard rails to keep pedestrians on the pavement and
guide them to these crossings is one which would appear
worthy of consideration for the safety of both drivers
and pedestrians alike.