Girl in near miss on ‘nightmare’ A828

Running the gauntlet.

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A chilling near miss involving school children crossing a busy A-road has sparked parents into starting a campaign to cut the 60mph speed limit.

Last week pupils on bikes and scooters had been crossing the A828 with parents to reach the roadside Barcaldine Primary School when they came seconds from a horrifying collision.

A car had slowed down to let them cross but a white pick-up truck travelling behind suddenly overtook – splitting the group and coming within inches of ploughing into an 11-year-old girl, parents said.

Dad-of-two Thor Windham-Wright, who was among the parents supervising the group, said the driver just carried on despite the girl nearly being hit in front of her classmates, some as young as five.

Mr Windham-Wright said: ‘It’s every parents’ dream to have your kids cycling to school but to have your kids crossing a road like this is every parents’ worst nightmare.

‘There are speed limits on stretches of road outside most schools in Scotland and we just don’t understand why there isn’t one here. It’s an accident waiting to happen.’

An anxious time crossing the road.

It’s a tradition in Barcaldine for classmates donning hi-vis vests to all ride the mile or so to school along the village cycle path, accompanied by grown ups.

But the danger point is the junction at the A828 outside the school which is the only place they can cross and where they have to negotiate two lanes of ‘foot down’ traffic.

The near miss is the latest in a string of incidents and has been reported to Police Scotland. The group was so shocked a registration number was not taken.

There are ‘voluntary’ signs which illuminate 20mph but they are either ignored or missed by many motorists, some of which would not even know a school was there, say parents.

Please drive slowly near our school

While Police Scotland has been supportive of the concerns, legally, the signs are ‘unenforceable’ from a speeding point of view.

Parent Sine MacKay said a ‘voluntary’ 20mph was ineffective on a 60mph A-road.

She has a nine-year-old son at Barcaldine Primary School and attended it herself.

The road, which regularly thunders with fast-moving articulated lorries, motorhomes and motorbikes, had always been a problem for pupils, she said.

‘The difference now is that there’s lots more traffic. It’s going a lot faster and they are a lot heavier,’ said Sine.

It’s not just primary children running the gauntlet either – Oban High School pupils dropped off by bus in winter also have to cross at a point with no street lights.

Parent Iain Hibbert said: ‘Something needs to change before someone gets seriously hurt. Children’s lives are at risk.

‘If it was a 30mph and anyone did 60mph it would be an instant ban.’

Cycling and scootering has seen the school win an award.

One positive is that it has galvanised parents into forming a campaign group.

They plan a community survey for incidents to be logged and evidence compiled with Argyll and Bute Council and Transport Scotland to be approached.

Parents plan to campaign for new measures – be it a dedicated crossing, better signs, rumble strips and a cut in the limit which they say is frequently exceeded.

The tiny rural school with just 11 pupils is committed to using the village cycle path to bike to lessons which saw it win a national cycling award for the miles they put in.

Youngsters enjoy the group exercise and helping the environment by cutting car journeys.

Running the gauntlet – Pam Reeves

Child minder Pam Reeves cares for three youngsters, all under five, and takes them along in a large buggy, where she then collects three pupils all aged under ten.

That means her group alone numbers six children with parents helping her get the children across the road.

‘Crossing the road with little ones does make me anxious and walking alongside it on the pavement the backdraft you get from some of the lorries is really quite scary for the children,’ said Pam.

Cassie Osborne, who has a daughter, Sophia, aged five, at the school, said it was clear a crossing and more signs were required.

She made a direct plea to any motorist using the A-road: ‘I would definitely recommend you slow down please,’ she said.

‘There’s a lot of young children around and they are primary school age at the end of the day.’

The ‘unenforceable’ sign on the approach to the school which illuminates 20mph.