If you live in Lincoln you will no doubt have had the awful experience of being late on a morning. Rushing through the streets and feeling the dread as the sirens start wailing signalling an oncoming train. Your pace quickens, your breath pants, your heartbeat rises, you don’t want to run because who does that in public, so you do a fast walk. And then, the barriers come down. You’ve lost to an East Midlands train yet again. But, lo and behold, there’s a footbridge to drag yourself up and hope has been restored to your morning commute, that is if you’re going up the High Street, if you’re next to the Brayford then you’ll just have to sit and wait. But, even with a footbridge at the High Street saving you from standing for 10 minutes, do some people just ignore the bridge and still opt to wait?
I decided to wait for a while at the High Street crossing near the footbridge to count how many people actually used the bridge. And, as the stereotype of England being that it’s all just queuing the results were not so surprising. Only about 1 in 3 people actually used the footbridge over a wait of just under 10 minutes at 11am when the street is busy. I asked people who were stood waiting as to why they didn’t use the bridge and the answers were more or less the same. One person told me “I just can’t really be bothered to use it, I’d rather just wait.” Another told me that “If I haven’t seen the barriers go down, or if I saw them drop from a while away I’d rather wait because I don’t want to start walking up the steps just for the barriers to rise when I’m halfway up”. Which raises the question, with a new footbridge now being built at the Brayford crossing, are they worth the money?
The High Street bridge which opened mid 2016 cost £12 million to construct. Rob McIntosh, the route managing director for Northern Rail said that safety on the railway is their absolute priority and that “we have never wavered in our commitment to deliver this footbridge to separate pedestrians and cyclists from trains”, he also said “what we need now is for people to use it… and to not take a chance by running over the crossing when the barriers are closing.”
And yet with just over 35% of people actually using the bridge itself I decided to ask the people waiting at the Brayford crossing point. Most people waiting at the crossing are university students and of the people I asked, their responses were more varied than on the High Street. One person told me that “I was waiting this morning for over 10 minutes easily, I was late and have been a few times now since I’ve been here, so I can’t wait for this new bridge”. Someone else simply said “yes, and they better hurry up building it, I’m sick of waiting around.” But there were still those who told me they wouldn’t bother with the bridge with one person saying “call me lazy but I just won’t bother walking up the stairs, also I’d rather be late than on time and sweating from climbing up a load of stairs.”
As insightful a comment as that was the question does still remain, as money is always tight in the times in which we are living, could this money be spent more importantly elsewhere?