OF ALL the holes dug in recent times by our beloved highways department, none can be so ill-conceived as the "island" created at the junction of Shap Road and Queen Katherines Avenue, Kendal.

The rationale for such a restrictive piece of street furniture is dubious, and the competence of any risk assessment conducted is questionable.

Its very location -some ten yards from the junction of an arterial A road - creates an immediate potential danger for pedestrians: it is in effect encouraging people on foot to cross a road while they remain unsighted of any traffic turning towards them from the main road.

So what is the purpose therefore of a perfectly adequate zebra crossing only 70 yards away?

The reduction from two to a single lane for traffic exiting Queen Katherines Avenue has the immediate negative impact of creating congestion where previously it rarely existed. Any pedestrian thus making use of the island facility will regularly be expected to negotiate queuing motor vehicles and relying on the correct judgment of drivers in giving way.

Potentially even more dangerous is the fact the island is located only 15 yards from the only road servicing the retail park businesses, so that articulated lorries now have to negotiate a cynically narrowed lane created by the island.

Good luck to all pedestrians risking this task.

The justifications regularly trotted out by the council - pedestrian safety, traffic calming, etc - simply do not apply in this instance. No consideration here either of increased toxic emissions caused by an intentional but unnecessary slowing of traffic flow. Green credentials indeed.

Would I be judged cynical in believing the real motivation for this latest addition to the decorating of Kendal's highways is in support of the Orwellian council mantra of "two wheels good, four wheels bad"?

All in all, a spectacular own goal by the interferers-in-chief. On occasion, maintaining the status quo is a more effective (and safer) policy.

Peter Hordijon


Editor's note: the Gazette contacted Cumbria County Council and here is its response:

"The need for the refuge was determined by an independent safety audit of the Shap Road shared use scheme. It cannot be expected that pedestrians will walk an additional 140 metres to use the zebra crossing, so it allows for as direct line as possible for pedestrians and cyclists to cross the three lanes of traffic on Queen Katherines Avenue safely.

"Ideally it would have been in line with the footway on Shap Road; however, due to the need for articulated wagon access to the supermarkets it has been set back to allow for safe vehicle turning."