Is Wanstead zebra crossing unsafe?

Image: Google

Lots of questions being asked about the zebra crossing near the Co-op on Wanstead High Street after another collision involving a car and a pedestrian. Whatever the details of this latest incident, the matter of whether it is inherently unsafe is being raised again. Just for the record, here are some of the points

  • Is the crossing in the wrong place and would a position further up the High Street (eg outside the Lighthouse fish and chip shop) be better? 
  • Do the trees on either side of the road restrict the view for drivers and pedestrians?
  • Does the informal nature of a Zebra crossing mean it’s less obvious when drivers should stop and when pedestrians should walk? Would a Pelican crossing be safer?
  • Do the left turns from Grove Park and Woodbine Place increase the risk of accidents?
  • Would a raised platform for the Zebra crossing improve visibility?

 It would also be interesting to see how incident statistics for this crossing compare with other similar crossings. The intriguing site plots all incidents of different severity and gives a wider indication of how widespread road collisions are.

Image from, using DfT data. Background map from Google. Incidents from 2016 to 2020.

20 thoughts on “Is Wanstead zebra crossing unsafe?”

  1. Whatever the rights and wrongs of individual cases, I am horrified at how many pedestrians step on to a crossing without looking at the traffic. I know they have the right of way, but that isn’t any help at all in the case of death or serious injury.

  2. I agree with Katherine in her comment about the number of people who step on the crossing without looking. I disagree that pedestrians have a “right of way”. Highway Code Rule 19 says:
    Zebra crossings. Give traffic plenty of time to see you and to stop before you start to cross. Wait until traffic has stopped from both directions or the road is clear before crossing. Remember that traffic does not have to stop until someone has moved onto the crossing. Keep looking both ways, and listening, in case a driver or rider has not seen you and attempts to overtake a vehicle that has stopped.

    1. And the highest code also states that

      You should take extra care where the view of either side of the crossing is blocked by queuing traffic or incorrectly parked vehicles. Pedestrians may be crossing between stationary vehicles.

      look out for pedestrians waiting to cross and be ready to slow down or stop to let them cross

      The trees are a visual obstruction. There really is no excuse to hit a pedestrian on that zebra crossing. A driver should always be mindful of speed in the approach. If the driver cannot see clearly then should take extra precautions. The pedestrian should be very careful crossing the road but the person in the 2 ton metal box has the responsibility not to run people over. The high street is busy with pedestrian, it is a crossing and the trees block vision. A driver should exercise caution in the conditions and to not do so is arrogance and potentially dangerous.

  3. If something has to be done I’d rather the crossing were moved than the tree cut down. The proximity of the junction with Grove Park doesn’t help. I find left turn out of Grove Park into the High Street quite a tricky one, another reason for moving the crossing.

  4. I don’t think that moving the crossing is the answer.

    My guess is that it will only encourage people to cross in the same place (or nearby) without the “protection” of a pedestrian crossing.

    A pelican cross would, I guess, improve safety – and I say that as a driver who finds them frustrating because people press the button, see no vehicles approaching so cross anyway because they judge it safe to do so.

    That leaves the driver waiting on red with no one waiting to cross.

    Yes, I’ve done that a few times myself but tend not to push the button if I can see that the coast is clear. So am I at greater risk than I would be if there was a zebra crossing? I don’t know.

    For sure, the trees must go.

    A raised crossing is also critical – of the sort that starts four or five metres away (or more). Such a crossing is less for visibilty and more for the slow-down effect of the bumps.

    And would it be possible to put up signage at the corners of Grove Road and Woodbine place as well as on High Street for each direction (or are they there already)?

    Finally, if your photo is current then the road markings are in a shocking state.

    They need to be repainted – and this should be done regularly.

    Yes, I know about the massive and ongoing funding cuts to councils but this is something that should not be overlooked.

    I was in the High Street on Thusday 13-01-22 at the time of the latest accident.

    The ambulanes seemed to take a longish time to arrive (very subjective, I know).

    If they did take longer than usual can we thank the anti-vaxers who are clogging up our hospitals and causing ambulances to have to wait to discharge the patients they’ve collected?

    I was also shocked by the ghouls standing around looking (and, in some cases laughing).

  5. Safety would be dramatically improved if the police tackled the boy racers who speed along the High Street, and other roads in Wanstead, many in high performance cars and cars were the exhausts have been altered to make more noisy and back-fire (illegal and invalidates insurance. One nearly ran me over a couple of years ago. Have raised issue with police band local councillors. What gets done – nothing!

  6. To the five questions you asked :-

    1. Yes the crossing is the wrong place, nearer the chip shop the other side of Grove park road would be far better.
    2. One trees on the grove park side blocks the view of pedestrians and motorists, should have be removed years ago. Certainly after the fatality!
    3. A pelican crossing would be safer but far slower and more disruptive.
    4. Yes they do, certainly pulling out of grove park, one has to careful to pull out slowly in case someone then crosses, putting you a risk of being hit by cars coming down the high st. as you pull out.
    5. Yes it would, and it would also act as a traffic calming measure.

    It certainly needs a change, this should have be done, after the fatality, instead we have silly parklets placed in parking spaces on the high st. instead!

  7. I agree that installation of a pelican crossing would no doubt improve safety. If the crossing was moved, most people who need to catch a bus in Woodbine Place, would cross the road at the junction and not walk down the street, resulting in more accidents than present.

  8. Thank you Haydn for putting me right about pedestrians! When I am driving I stop when I see them approaching in case they step out carelessly. And I know about a pedestrian having to be on the crossing but the front of my foot off the pavement is the most I would risk.
    And certainly lunatic racers in souped up cars are incredibly dangerous on both side and main roads locally.

  9. I think a pelican would detract from the nice informal feel of the High St. Agree that it’s the second tree on the Grove Rd side that is causing the problem. Myself, I try never to place my life in the hands of a stranger. When driving, if at a tricky junction, I don’t rely even on other drivers showing the right indicator light. Could a sign bye put on the tree to warn folks that they can’t be seen. I have long felt that two more zebras needed – around about the fish shop/doctor’s surgery and near the school. This would slow down and alert traffic as it progresses along the High St. I hope the new roads arrangement will include a 20 mile limit along the High St.

  10. The Highway code is set to change on the 29th of January, with eight new rules being introduced as well as 49 updates to existing rules.

    Among the changes is a new ‘Hierarchy of Road Users’ that will prioritise vulnerable road users, such as cyclists and pedestrians.

    Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the greatest responsibility to take care and reduce the danger they pose to others.

    Thought it would be useful to bring this to the discussions well worth a read …

    1. And about time too. We have a zebra crossing with restricted vision.
      “Cut the trees down” “Blame the pedestrian” “Put flashing lights”
      It’s a busy high street with people around all day. A driver approaches the crossing and can’t see too clearly. Heaven forbid we ask the driver to maybe slow down, take care, have an extra look before driving their car through it.
      Of course a pedestrian should take care when crossing. But the person driving the 2m wide 2 tonne metal box should take extra care, recognise the danger and adjust their driving accordingly. And if said drivers can’t moderate their driving to the conditions required of a busy high street then better traffic calming measures should be brought in. The cars are bringing the danger to the street. They should be restricted and controlled until the danger is mitigated.

      1. Cutting down trees to ‘improve visibility’ for drivers is an obsession with town planners, especially in the US. But it doesn’t improve safety; drivers are more confident and drive more quickly. As others have said, it’s a busy high street; you have to drive slowly and carefully. If a driver can’t see pedestrians at that crossing, or can’t stop in time, they’re driving too fast or too carelessly. Maybe we need more traffic calming measures? Zebra crossings are there to make it easier for pedestrians, not to get pedestrians out of the way of drivers. This recent book has a lot more background on traffic engineering – safety is sometimes counter-intuitive.

  11. There has been no mention in the online blogs/posts/reports of reducing the speed limit to 20mph in the high street as a part of a solution to reduce road collisions. It is well documented that reducing vehicle speed to 20pmg allows drivers more time to assess the road conditions and also helps to reduce the risk of injury to pedestrians/cyclists if they are involved in a collision. Wanstead High Street is pedestrian-friendly and has many amenities which encourage family (park with playground, library, cafe, GPS, etc). Waltham Forest Council has an outright 20mph speed limit because of these two well-documented/proven facts. When will Redbridge follow suit?

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