Transport chiefs to explore ‘immediate’ road safety measures after death of child

11-year-old Thomas Wong died after being knocked off his bike by a bin lorry on Whitehouse Road.

Transport chiefs to explore ‘immediate’ road safety measures after death of child in Edinburgh © Google Maps 2024

Edinburgh transport chiefs are to explore ”immediate” road safety measures in response to the death of a child.

11-year-old Thomas Wong died after being knocked off his bike by a bin lorry on Whitehouse Road near its junction with Braehead Road on March 1.

His family have since said they were “utterly heartbroken” at the loss of their “perfect son”.

Nearly one week on, councillors reflected on the tragedy and unanimously agreed to “consider as a matter of urgency what actions are required to improve safety” once a detailed police report is received.

Paul Lawrence, director of place, told them it was officials’ intention to look at “immediate” actions, which could include drawing up temporary road orders, as well as long-term “substantive measures” for the area as he addressed the transport and environment committee on March 7.

Among suggestions made by cycling group Spokes at the meeting was to restrict HGV movements at school travel times, increase the number of speed bumps and create more pavement space in front of the Barnton shops.

Spokes member Graeme Hart, who lives in Cramond near to where the incident occurred said the local community was “heartbroken beyond words”.

He said: “We wish we could bring him back but we cannot.

“What we can do is everything in our power to make sure it never happens again.”

Mr Hart told councillors long-running problems around Whitehouse Road included “heavy traffic pressure”, excess speeds, “chaotic” parking, and long queues of vehicles – all of which he said contributed to a “hostile” environment for cyclists.

Transport convener Scott Arthur, Labour, highlighted other recent accidents involving pedestrians, including 74-year-old Andrew Grant who died after being hit by a bus in Oxgangs on February 16 and a 12-year-old boy injured in a hit and run on Gilmerton Road on March 6.

“I don’t doubt there will be a lot of other incidents in the city since we last met which have affected people’s lives and perhaps even changed them forever,” Cllr Arthur said.

“I think Thomas’ death is a reminder that all of us in the city – and I don’t mean in the council or in this committee – do share that responsibility to ensure children can get to school safely and reach their full potential.

“I think there’s a real opportunity to make sure this isn’t repeated.”

Local Lib Dem councillor for Barnton, Kevin Lang, said: “Thomas Wong had his whole life before him and it was cut short in the cruellest of fashions.

“Last weekend like many I went and laid flowers on Whitehouse Road and I was greeted by this sea of vibrant colour – colour from flowers, balloons, cards and from messages that were as heartwarming as they were heartbreaking. It’s clear that Thomas was loved, loved of course by his family, but loved by his friends and loved by his school community.

“The police investigation is still ongoing and they’ve asked for any witnesses or anyone with footage. It’s important they are given the time and space to find out what happened last Friday.

“But as soon as we have got their conclusions and their feedback it is critical our own road safety officers review that feedback and come back to us with their conclusions.

“We’ve spoken a lot on this committee over years about a worry that some of the impetus has come out of school travel plans, safer routes to schools.

“We’ve been frustrated with delays, we ask a lot of parent councils. We don’t always give them the resource they need to turn those plans into action. And if there’s one thing to come out of this I hope that with a good – and I’m pleased to say growing – road safety team, we can really get the energy and the focus back on that.”

SNP councillor Danny Aston said: Aston: “One of our most basic duties as a local authority is ensuring that the children and young people of this city are safe at school and safe on their way to school.

“After hearing about the tragic death of Thomas at Whitehouse Road we find out a 12-year-old boy was injured in a hit-and-run.

“We must do better and today we seek clarity on what happened and recognise the pain and sadness of Thomas’ family, school and community.”

Insp Andrew Thomson from Police Scotland said: “Our thoughts are very much with Thomas’s family and friends. Specially trained officers are supporting the family at this time.

“We are continuing with our inquiries to establish the full circumstances of the incident and would appeal to anyone who may have information, and has not yet contacted police, is to get in touch with officers.”

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