The next meeting of the TRBJB is on Monday 3 June 2019 in Committee Room 3, 14 City Square, Dundee at 10am. All welcome.
Board Meeting 3 June 2019
Vulnerable People on the Tay Road Bridge – Your Questions Answered
The public will be aware that, from time to time, incidents involving people in distress unfortunately take place on the Tay Road Bridge.
Bridge management takes this issue extremely seriously, and a number of measures are in place to support vulnerable members of the public. Fortunately very few incidents end in tragedy, and most people in crisis are quickly and safely supported by the appropriate agencies.
However, every situation is different, and sometimes longer bridge closures are required to ensure that a vulnerable person gets the help they need.
We are, of course, conscious that closures also have an impact on bridge users and other traffic. This Q&A has been created to help broaden understanding of the issues involved and the work that the bridge team does with its partners to minimise disruption while providing support to people in distress.
What do you do to stop suicides?
We have a state-of-the-art CCTV system monitoring the bridge 24-hours-a-day, every single day of the year for the purposes of public safety. This allows our experienced Control Room Supervisors to monitor all bridge users and take appropriate action quickly.
Our staff are all trained to speak with vulnerable persons, and have undergone accredited Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST). This means our staff have the confidence to help those at risk whilst keeping all other bridge users safe.
We also have a direct line to the Police Scotland control room and work closely with other agencies, including all the emergency services, to attend quickly and safely to all emergencies on the bridge.
Why do you have to close both carriageways of the bridge during incidents involving vulnerable people?
There are a number of reasons for this. One of our primary concerns is ensuring the safety of both the person in distress and members of our staff or partner agencies, including emergency services, who are providing support to people on the bridge.
We also have to be aware of the potential for collisions should drivers be distracted by an ongoing incident. Another important consideration is road noise – we must ensure that a person in distress can hear, and be heard by, those providing support during what could be a life or death conversation.
Why don’t you put up barriers along the bridge?
We have looked into this, as we have with an exhaustive range of suicide prevention measures, but unfortunately the 1960s construction of the bridge means this is not practical.
The bridge deck cantilevers, while safely supporting the weight of traffic, would be unable to take the additional load of barriers, with the strain that the wind would create on them.
Couldn’t you put up a net at the edge of the bridge?
This has been thoroughly investigated, but unfortunately rescue of persons from a net would be very difficult and risky and it would likely have some structural implications on the safety of the bridge. It would likely be difficult to maintain the net safely, particularly in winter months and in high winds.
We continue to look at other locations for measures which are effective and could be adapted to the specific requirements of the Tay Road Bridge.
Why aren’t the walkway railings higher?
Unfortunately this would not be an effective deterrent. We are aware that not everyone who goes onto the bridge uses the central walkway as a point of access. Also, if we need to attend to a medical emergency with a pedestrian or cyclist on the walkway then access must be achievable by the Emergency Services.
Why do you have ladders at various points on the bridge that lead to the carriageway?
We need these ladders to access the walkway for maintenance purposes. The ladders also enable stranded motorists to exit their vehicles and use the walkway as a place of safety, and if preferred use our emergency phones, which are placed at regular intervals.
If you do break down in your vehicle on the bridge, then please telephone us on 01382 433044 Option 0. In most cases we will have already spotted you and will be on our way with our specialist protection vehicle and we will arrange your safe recovery from the bridge.
Have you looked into signs with “inspirational messages”?
When signs on the bridge appear our staff must check them all to make sure that no one is put at increased risk by what any messages might say or how they might be interpreted. It is for this reason that we always ask that people don’t install any signs or messages. Signs can also pose a distraction or are at risk of being blown onto other bridge users which might cause an accident.
It would be beneficial for any group or individual interested in this type of project to do so through service user/support groups who are able to support this in the safest way. Dundee Voluntary Action and Dundee Association for Mental Health (DAMH) could help with this.
We already have fixed signage to signpost to The Samaritans for help, and we recognise that other agencies are also available to help in a crisis. The Samaritans in Dundee can be contacted on 01382 832555, or for free on 116 123. Breathing Space can be contacted on 0800 838587, or NHS 24 on 111.
Restrictions on Tay Road Bridge Due to Wind
The Tay Road Bridge Joint Board would like to remind drivers to adhere to restrictions in high winds.
Officers in the Tay Road Bridge Control Room have recorded vehicles ignoring the car only restrictions.
Users are reminded of the potentially serious consequences that can occur from ignoring restrictions. .
Drivers may be prosecuted should an incident occur where they have ignored the relevant restrictions.
Variable Message Signs leading up to the bridge are always kept up to date and regular traffic updates can be heard on local and national radio.
Our Twitter feed is also kept up to date and can be followed on @tay_road_bridge
Chair of the Tay Road Bridge Joint Board, Councillor Stewart Hunter said: “These restrictions are for the safety of all road users.
The bridge is an exposed structure and is susceptible to strong gusts of wind down the river Tay. Please be patient and check the conditions before travelling via the Tay Road Bridge website or twitter feed. Alternative routes are available for those who cannot cross. Please do not take the chance and adhere to restriction advice."
Tay Road Bridge Walkway Access Map
We now have a very handy map to explain the best way to access the bridge walkway from Dundee. You can download and print this map off by clicking on the pdf link. The map also has some interesting facts about the Tay Road Bridge.
The bridge walkway is an excellent vantage point for viewing Dundee and North Fife and is a very enjoyable walk, and links up with the Fife coastal path for the more adventurous. See Visit Scotland website for more details at www.visitscotland.com/info/see-do/fife-coastal-route-p331361
Please be aware that the walkway is shared pedestrian and cycle use, and we ask that cyclists give way to pedestrians at all times. It is noisy on the bridge even in nice weather and pedestrians cannot always hear cyclists approaching. Cyclists must be prepared to slow down and stop if necessary. Thank you for your co-operation.
We respectfully request that all drivers follow our restriction advice during periods of high wind. If you are driving a high sided vehicle then please do not cross when we are open to Cars and Single Decker Buses Only. This advice is for your safety and for the safety of all bridge users.
Permitted to cross:
- Cars without trailers
- Cars without loaded roof racks
- Transit van style – with no modifications or raised roof line and no loaded roof racks
- Single Decker Buses
- Ambulances and Patient Transport vehicles – This is dependant upon patient criticality and after liaison between Ambulance Control and the Operations Duty Supervisor at Bridge Control.
Not permitted to cross:
- High-sided rigid or articulated HGV’s – regardless whether empty or full
- Articulated or Rigid Tippers – regardless whether empty or full
- Tankers – regardless whether empty or full
- Car Transporters - regardless whether empty or full
- Furniture vans - regardless whether empty or full
- Luton vans - regardless whether empty or full
- Curtain sided vehicles - regardless whether empty or full
- Transit van style with modification or raised roof line
- Vehicles with trailers or caravans
- 3-wheeled cars
- Any other vehicle which appears, in the judgement of the Operations Duty Supervisor, to be at risk.
The Walkway is closed to all Pedestrians and Cyclists when the bridge is open to Cars and Single Decker Buses Only.