Dromore visitors’ feathers ruffled by Puffin Crossings

DROMORE residents are among the latest to have their feathers ruffled by new pedestrian crossings in neighbouring Banbridge.

The recent introduction of the Puffin Crossings, which, among other things, replace the stop/go lights mounted at the far side of the road in a Pelican Crossing with a low-level indicator directly beside the pedestrian(s) wishing to cross, failed to find favour among some critical Banbridge residents.

And now, according to Dromore Councillor Olive Mercer, some Dromore visitors to the district capital are no more impressed.

The Ulster Unionist said she had been contacted by several Dromore residents who voiced concerns about the new Puffin Crossings they encountered in Banbridge.

Mrs. Mercer said the complaints reflected her own experience, when, as she crossed Newry Street, two Banbridge parents said their children were unable to see clearly the low level crossing indicators when another pedestrian was standing beside the unit.

She added, however, that a Roads Service spoeksman had assured her road safety was given a high priority and the agency was currently working through an upgrade of all controlled pedestrian crossings in Banbridge.

“He confirmed that Roads Service are aware of this problem,” she said, “and are monitoring sites where larger numbers of pedestrians frequently cross at one time, with a view to installing high level red/green man repeater light units.

“The new crossings, he explained, offer pedestrians a number of benefits. Importantly they can detect when pedestrians are slow to cross or when there are large numbers crossing and will extend the crossing time.

“While pedestrians are on the Puffin Crossing sensors will keep the lights on red for vehicles. This helps to reduce the distress pedestrians can feel during the flashing amber stage on a Pelican crossing.”

Mrs. Mercer said that in general terms the positioning of the red and green figures beside pedestrians wishing to cross was a feature of the new Puffin Crossings and it might be that for some people it would take time to get used to it.

“The location of the pedestrian display means that people can see the red/green figures and watch oncoming traffic at the same time,” she said, adding that for those with a visual impairment the units were easier to operate than if the signal was on the far side of the road.

“All the crossings have tactile cones at the base of the push button,” she said. “The user puts their finger at the base of the button and the cones rotate when the green figure is displayed. This is effective for both those with a hearing or visual impairment.

“Audible indication may also be used where there is a single crossing. However, it cannot be used for safety reasons where there are independent crossings in close proximity.”

Copies of the Puffin Crossing Leaflet issued by DRD Roads Service can be obtained at Lagan Valley MLA Basil McCrea’s Dromore Office, 19 Market Square, Dromore (028 9269 3594) or Upper Bann MLA Joanne Dobson’s office at 18 Rathfriland Street, Banbridge (028 4066 9004).