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I knew that I’d be mining a rich seam this morning when I went in search of reckless behaviour. For years I have watched pedestrians take risks by crossing the slip roads at Greenford Flyover instead of using the subways, from the passenger seat of a car as well as from the pavement. Even so I was not prepared for this: the sight of two teenage boys in school uniform, cycling to school across the north-west and south-west slip roads at the Flyover, then riding on the wrong side along Greenford Road.
Greenford Flyover and the roundabout beneath it carry thousands of vehicles every day, including many very large articulated trucks. One of them struck and killed a man on the south-east slip road seen on the right of this image.
It doesn’t surprise me that teenagers take such a casual attitude to their own safety at the Flyover when I see the poor example they are set by adults. I watched a number of children cross there this morning, including this mother and daughter who were followed by an older schoolboy across the north-east slip road, under the Flyover and across the south-east slip road at the place where a man was killed.
In 2009 there was a murder in one of the subways and many local residents said that they were too frightened to use them. They said that no one could see them once they were below ground level and that the environment was shabby. This led to the introduction of CCTV and improvements to the steps and lighting. So why do people still risk their lives and those of their children in this way? I think there are two reasons. Some believe it is quicker to dodge traffic than walk through the subways (it took me under two minutes), others have decided to perpetuate fears encouraged by those who have never walked through them. The irony is, of course, that if the subways were used by everyone and not just the adults and children I regularly see down there, those who want to cause harm would be put off and lurk elsewhere. The space under the Flyover is still far from perfect but these excuses are now inexcusable. Following the murder I attended a public meeting at which a woman declared quite proudly that she had told her son not to use the subways on his way to school, she expected him to run across the slip roads. I cannot express in words the contempt I feel for her and the people who risk the lives of the next generation in this way. What fools they are.
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