Anger over road experiment at busy Kirkintilloch town centre junction

Temporary traffic lights caused tailbacks
Temporary traffic lights caused tailbacks

Motorists and pedestrians have slammed a month-long trial which will see traffic controls removed from a town centre junction.

On Monday, road workers were putting the final touches to the new system at the junction of Catherine Street and Cowgate, in Kirkintilloch.

Temporary traffic lights caused large tailbacks over the weekend but were removed by Monday lunchtime.

For four weeks there will now be no pedestrian crossing or traffic light control at the junction - with pedestrians given right of way and no single direction of traffic given priority.

The lanes of traffic have also been narrowed to reduce speed.

On the Herald’s Facebook page, there was widespread condemnation for the trial.

Pamela Cook said: “This is not a great idea. They start this the week the schools are starting back, do they forget there is a school just up from that junction and a lot of new children will be relying on these lights to cross over the roads?”

And another resident called the Herald office to say he had major safety concerns.

She explained: “The road junction is complete mayhem; drivers simply do not know what to do.

“It’s been poorly handled, poorly organised and there is going to be an accident.

“Also, no one has thought about blind people who have guide dogs trained to cross the street at the beep. If there is no beep, then blind people would not be able to cross the road.

“And with children going back to school, it doesn’t bear thinking about what could happen then.

“Is it going to take the death of a child before the council address this chaos?”

Meanwhile, driver John Scott said: “I’ve just had the misfortune of driving along Kirkintilloch Road and it is a disaster - a complete mess.

“Taking two lanes down to one in an effort to ease congestion is absolute insanity.

“Common sense is simply not in the council’s nature and the problems this latest decision have already caused are there for all to see.”

Thomas Glen, the council’s director of development and regeneration, said: “Kirkintilloch Town Centre Masterplan is about the long-term regeneration of the town and has delivered a number of projects so far which have brought improved parking and traffic flow (Barleybank car park, William Patrick Library car park and Townhead), improved pedestrian routes (Broadcroft, David Donnelly Place and West High Street) and better access for walkers and cyclists at the canal.

“The Masterplan has also supported new businesses and housing into the town centre.

“We are now focusing on the very busy and often congested junction in the heart of the town centre at Catherine Street/Cowgate to see how we can improve it for drivers, cyclists and pedestrians.

“For four weeks the traffic lights will be switched off and temporary road markings will be painted on the road surfaces. These will be highlighted crossing points for pedestrians and the carriageways will be narrowed to reduce driver speed.

“It will be a non-priority junction - where no stream of traffic has formal priority over the other. The scheme is aimed at making the area more pedestrian-friendly, improving traffic flow, reducing congestion and improving air quality.

“This is an ambitious step and I understand people’s concerns, however, a great deal of work has been done to learn from best practice in other towns and cities and to ensure that the trial is workable and safe.

“The area will be filmed 24 hours a day to allow officers to monitor, evaluate and make an informed decision about the future model for the operation of the junction.

“We recognise this is a significant change and hope to see less congestion and better movement for everyone using the town centre.

“This is a trial so there will be a bedding-in period, but I would urge local people to bear with us on this latest part of the Masterplan.”