Villagers in Studland are stepping up their campaign to secure a light controlled pedestrian crossing for the main road through the village, which they say is beset by speeding cars and bikes.
Despite passing the criteria for a crossing, funding delays during the current economic crisis have led to fears that it may take a fatal accident on the village roads before any action is finally taken.
The crossroads near Studland Stores where villagers say a pedestrian crossing is needed
Funding unlikely to appear until 2024 or later
The downhill approach from Swanage into Studland does have a speed monitor activated by oncoming vehicles, but that frequently fails to slow down cars as they head into the village.
Several near misses as pedestrians cross over to the village stores led to a local campaign for a safe road crossing, but despite being told that Studland was at the top of the list for help, it now seems unlikely to be funded until 2024 – and may still be further delayed.
A local survey has collected more than 100 names of families in support of a crossing and Studland meets official road safety criteria for help.
But as the busy summer tourist season approaches and with still no sign of an end to their wait, villager Virginia Lynch now aims to raise the profile of their campaign through social media and perhaps even a roadside protest.
Traffic is frequently busy and often fast in the popular tourist village
Vehicles race through Studland to catch ferry
“It’s an incredibly dangerous road, especially in the summer when all the tourists are here. The traffic is excessive and because the road is downhill into the village they come down very fast and the bikes are especially hazardous.
“In the summer months, traffic increases exponentially, cars and bikes race through the village to catch the ferry and it is virtually impossible for anybody to cross the road unless they can run.
“Dorset Council recognises that Studland needs a pedestrian crossing so that elderly and disabled residents can reach the village shop, they have assured us that Studland will have a pedestrian crossing – but when?
“We were disappointed the crossing was not installed in 2022 but were assured it would be installed in 2023. Now we learn that other villages have priority and we will not have a crossing this year.”
Virginia Lynch is heading the campaign for a pedestrian crossing in Studland
“I suggested we lie down in the road”
“I have been assured that we are now top of the list, but it’s no good being top of the list unless you actually have your crossing. Until I see it in place I won’t believe it – how can we be sure that next year we won’t be bumped off the top of the list again.
“If Studland wasn’t such a pretty place with everyone wanting to come here, you could possibly argue that we didn’t need a crossing but there is no doubt at all in the summer months that we absolutely do.
“I have suggested that we lie down in the road to raise awareness, though I’m told that’s not the best idea. There is no doubt that a serious accident there would help our cause, but I don’t want to wait for one before we get our crossing.
“I’m pretty ancient, but when I see someone even more decrepit than me, I stand in the road like a policeman with my arms out helping them across, trying to get people to stop. The cars come down very quickly and it is very scary actually.”
Puffin crossings, which have sensors to make sure that while someone is on the crossing lights remain on red for traffic, cost in the region of £125,000, but villagers say that a cheaper zebra crossing would not guarantee the safety of an elderly population.
The desired crossing is proposed for the junction of Swanage Road and Ferry Road with School Lane and Heathgreen Road, where residents and visitors cross to the village stores.
Traffic from the village hall emerges onto the busy crossroads at the heart of Studland
“Cyclists in particular are a danger”
Parish council chair Nick Boulter said:
“Studland Parish Council is strongly in favour of a pedestrian crossing across Ferry Road. Due to the volume and excessive speed of traffic, especially during the summer or over holiday periods, the traffic is a danger to residents – especially elderly ones.
“Cyclists in particular are a danger, as they like to race down Swanage Road, sometimes hurling abuse at residents trying to cross the road.
“Dorset Council has assessed our need and said that we pass the criteria for having a crossing; they say they need to prioritise this, along with other commitments.
“Our understanding is that the assessment was conducted back in early 2022, and whilst we were never actually promised a crossing in 2023, councillors were given the impression that 2023 would be when the crossing would be built.
“At present we have no scheduled date for it to be built. We have asked Dorset Council and our local councillor Cherry Brooks to try to expedite this.
“Residents are very disappointed with the delay. So far, luckily, no one has been run over but the road is getting busier, many of our residents are getting older and there have been some close narrow escapes though – especially from some belligerent cyclists!”
Studland Bay beaches are a big tourist draw in the summer season
Limited budget available for crossings
A Dorset Council spokesperson said:
“The location in question does meet the criteria for a crossing but, as we have explained, we need to make sure the crossing can be safely installed and done so within the limited budget available.
“As we hope you can appreciate, we receive many requests for new pedestrian crossings around the Dorset Council area and treat all requests fairly. We will continue to keep the parish council updated with progress.”