HC Deb 04 February 1985 vol 72 c605
11. Ms. Richardson

asked the Secretary of State for Transport if his Department is looking into alternative road crossings to subways.

Mrs. Chalker

Alternative road crossings, including footbridges, pelicans and zebras, are available, and the choice is for the highway authority depending on the local circumstances. The matter is kept under constant review.

Ms. Richardson

Is the Minister aware—I am sure that she is—of the great fears experienced by many people, especially women, when they use subways, where violence, muggings and so on might occur? Will the hon. Lady instigate a survey into the extent of the problem? Does she agree that the provision of surface crossings and the cost of planning and producing them is negligible by comparison with the protection of women and elderly people?

Mrs. Chalker

I share the hon. Lady's concern about what sometimes goes on in subways, where not only women are affected. The policing aspect is a matter for the Home Office. In recent years, we, for our part, have done what we can to improve the design of subways. I shall send the hon. Lady the design specifications for new subways, but I agree with her that the cheapest form of helping people cross the road is an island in the centre of the road, followed by zebras, pelicans and footbridges, all of which work out more cheaply than subways, but sometimes are not a feasible answer in view of the land in the area and the junctions near the main crossing points used by the local population.

Mr. Stern

Does my hon. Friend agree that the fashion for building subways, particularly as pedestrian crossings on busy suburban roads, has now largely passed, but that many local authorities are left with these landmarks to past theory? As a consequence, will she make the advice of her Department available to those authorities which, over the next few years, would like to replace these white elephants but are to some extent concerned about the cost of doing so?

Mrs. Chalker

My hon. Friend raises a valid point. Advice on subways already exists, and I shall send him copies of it. Sometimes it is almost impossible to widen the entrances to subways or to straighten existing subways, and in those cases local authorities may need to look at surface crossings, as the hon. Member for Barking (Ms. Richardson) intimated in her supplementary question.