DRIVERS of buses that speed through the Pedestrian Heart in Darlington will be asked to slow down in a new code of practice drawn up by Darlington Borough Council.

But the council has said pedestrian crossings will not be installed.

The Pedestrian Heart's design allows buses to be driven in a loop up Priestgate, along Prebend Row and down Tubwell Row. Residents have said the buses travel too quickly - especially around corners.

In yesterday's Hear All Sides, Thelma Johnson, from Darlington, wrote: "Trying to cross Priestgate if you are not so fast on your legs, or if pushing a buggy, is dicing with death."

Ann Swain wrote: "One cannot see the bus coming very fast on that tight bend. I am arthritic - I do walk, but not fast enough for the bus hooting at me to get out of the way.

"Had I moved, I would have gone flat on my face with the bus running over me."

The Highway Code says vehicles should give way to pedestrians at a junction if they have started to cross.

But pedestrians moving back onto the pavement in Priestgate and Tubwell Row are said to be a common sight. In March, a girl was knocked down in a collision with a taxi in the street, near the William Stead pub.

The council has responded by drawing up a voluntary code of practice, expected to be signed by Arriva and Stagecoach.

A council spokeswoman said: "It would be a voluntary agreement and would cover general day-to-day conduct of how buses are driven, addressing issues such as appropriate speeds, access to and waiting at bus stops, and other related matters."

The council also said there were no plans for new crossings.

"We are aware it can be difficult to cross at the bus loop, but this should be easier when the Pedestrian Heart is finished," the spokeswoman said.

"The crossing points will be clearly marked.

"There are no plans to install any formal pedestrian crossings in that area."

Tony Batty, Arriva's area manager, said the code of practice would be signed.

A spokeswoman for Stagecoach also expected the code to be agreed on. She said a speed check in the town centre had shown no Stagecoach bus travelling faster than 17mph.

Yesterday, The Northern Echo revealed Arriva has bought Stagecoach's services in Darlington, subject to approval from the Office of Fair Trading.