Residents win fight to reduce speed limit in road where young father lost his life

By Harrison Galliven, Local Democracy Reporter

Residents have won a battle to reduce the speed limit in a road which has become a major collision hotspot in recent years.

Residents and councillors have succeeded in their campaign to reduce the speed limit from 40mph to 30mph in Merton’s St Helier Avenue.

The red route joins the bustling Morden town centre with the busy Rose Hill roundabout.

The mile-long road has seen a number of pedestrian fatalities and near misses in recent years.

Brazilian national and father-of-two Matheus Matos Menezes, 25, died in a collision as he rode his moped along St Helier Avenue in May 2021.

And an 80-year-old resident was seriously injured in a collision there in November last year.

Resident Joy Land said: “We have had a couple of fatalities but mainly near misses, because there aren’t masses of crossing places. That’s the trouble.

“It’s a bit of a racetrack at different times of the day. Drivers see it and think, at last I can let off speed. A lot of the ones who speed nip in and out of other vehicles. They’re not just driving faster, they’re driving dangerously.

“We’ve been campaigning on this since the last incident, and there’s a lot of evidence that just reducing it by 10mph will really make a difference.”

Ms Land said she drives down the road herself and understands why drivers feel tempted to put their foot down to make up time as it’s a long straight road, but she said many people do not think of the consequences of doing so.

“A lot of pedestrians aren’t as able to make it to the crossings,” she added. “Unfortunately, you need to be very fit to be able to walk to a crossing in that road. There aren’t many.

“I’m in my 70s and my husband’s well into his 80s. We’ve lived alongside the road for years. We look down the road and think ‘will I make it and make it back?’ This leads people to cross where they shouldn’t.”

Transport for London (TfL), which manages the red route, announced its intention to reduce the speed limit on Thursday of last week, but has so far not confirmed a date for implementation.

Commenting on TfL’s announcement, campaign lead councillor Helena Dollimore said: “We have seen far too many accidents in St Helier Avenue, including a tragic incident two years ago where a young father lost his life. This new 30mph limit will make St Helier Avenue safer for everyone.

“But it does not stop there. We also want to see the road made safer with better pedestrian crossings and proper enforcement of the speed limit.”

Pictured top: From left, Joy Land with Merton councillors Helena Dollimore, Stephen Alambritis and Natasha Irons (Picture: Stephen Alambritis)

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