Words and pics by Ed King
A nationwide campaign against dangerous driving is holding a public protest on the Chester Road in Erdington today.
Held at the crossroads off Gravelly Lane/Boldmere Road and Chester Road, the Safe Streets Now instigated protest will begin at 11am – running until 12noon, including a minute silence for all those killed and affected by road traffic accidents.
At the same spot in May this year, a cyclist was fatally hit by a car.
Running alongside similar protests across the country, co-ordinated by the National Safe Streets Now campaign, the Birmingham event will mirror those in Norwich, Leicester, Liverpool, London, Sheffield, Nottingham, Penarth, Oxford, Bristol, Bath, and Worcester.
Safe Streets Now chose the Gravelly Lane/Chester Road interchange as its Birmingham location due to the significant number of Road Traffic Collisions (RTCs) that occur at busy crossroads across the city, as well as the fatal incident in May.
Dangerous driving has been a constituency wide concern across Erdington for many years, with ‘hotspots’ for fatal and life altering collisions being cited on Chester Road, Kingsbury Road, and the Tyburn Road.
All the UK-wide protests are being held on the same day the Department for Transport (DfT) will publish their Reported Road Casualties statistics for 2022.
According to the Government source, there were an estimated 1,711 RTC fatalities in Great Britain in 2022 with a further 29,742 killed or seriously injured (KSI) casualties. The report also sates there were 135,480 casualties ‘of all severities’ in the UK last year.
Protest organiser, Mat Macdonald, told Erdington Local: “Earlier this year there was a man on a bike killed at where we will be gathering on Saturday, and as part of a series of actions taking place across the country – calling for improvements to the safety of our streets – we will be gathering at that location. Essentially to reflect on the alarming trend of road deaths in the city and to have a minute’s silence to honour all the victims of road violence.”
He continued: “We’ll be gathering at the Chester Road Baptist Church… we’re going to have a few speeches, we’re going to hold some signage up, and then we’re going to culminate with the minutes silence at midday – which will be happening at several locations across the country simultaneously.”
Reverend Danny Brierley from Chester Road Baptist Church added: “I see every day the dangers of this junction. Far too many speeding cars also cross on ‘red’, creating danger for others.
“A cyclist was tragically hit by a car and died at these lights on 31 May. I was the first to reach him. Despite the amazing efforts of an off-duty firefighter and a passing A&E Doctor, then paramedics and the Air Ambulance, his injuries were too catastrophic. I still see his face.
“Despite in places having to cross four lanes of traffic, there is no pedestrian control at this junction. Parents and carers walking their kids to and from school have to chance it.
“I appreciate money is tight, but this is a dangerous junction. What price a life? As a Church Minister I’m forever saying every person is beautifully, wonderfully made in God’s image – priceless. No one deserves to lose their life due to dangerous driving at a dangerous junction.”
Organisers have asked anyone wishing to take part to meet in front of Chester Road Baptist Church, ready for the protest to begin at 11 am.
Organisers have further confirmed with Erdington Local that there will be “stewards at (the) event” helping manage activity and that “public safety is our top priority.”
For more on Safe Streets Now visit www.safestreetsnow.co.uk