6.15 Tea and biscuits
6.30 Opening statement from Lord Berkeley, President RDRF (Tony now can’t be with us, so his place as chair for the evening will be taken by RDRF founder member/ treasurer Ken Spence)
6.35 LB Lambeth Transport Portfolio holder, Cllr. Jennifer Braithwaite.
6.45 RDRF Mayoral candidates Manifesto, Introduction by RDRF Chair Dr Robert Davis
6.50 The Mayoral Candidates Manifesto and responses: EACH ITEM WILL START WITH A 5 – 10 MINUTE TALK BY RDRF COMMITTEE MEMBER OR SUPPORTER, FOLLOWED BY either RESPONSES BY REPRESENTATIVES OF CANDIDATES or READING OUT RESPONSES BY CANDIDATES THAT HAVE BEEN SENT IN. So far we have had 3 responses and have been promised responses by Labour and Conservative candidates.
7.45 – Discussion.
..and don’t forget our Manifesto and replies received so far are here:
Should an advocate of Road Danger Reduction appear on Top Gear? Back in 1993 the programme was reasonably civilised and I was pleased to appear on it. So here is the current Chair of the Road Danger Reduction Forum explaining a basic point about the measurement of danger.
For more on the measurement of danger, see this
We have received responses to our London Mayoral candidates Manifesto from Caroline Pidgeon (Liberal Democrats) and Sian Berry (Green Party). We show them below in the order received: in orange (Caroline Pidgeon) and green (Sian Berry) fonts.
We hope to get responses from the Conservative and Labour candidates soon.
We ask the new Mayor to support our calls for reducing danger at source, for the safety of all road users as part of implementing a sustainable transport system:
I fully support this recommendation.
The Green Party in London is strongly committed to making road danger reduction and enforcement of traffic rules a much higher priority for the police, with an increase in resources to make this possible.
Close overtaking of cyclists is both terrifying and dangerous, the ignoring of rule 170 makes walking less attractive and adds to social isolation amongst older people, and the lack of reporting of all car collisions reduces our understanding of where dangers lie and leads to a sense of lawlessness on our roads. All the rules identified by the RDRF will therefore be prioritised for action. I would also extend 20mph speed limits to all TfL red routes and enforce speed limits rigorously.
Policing of traffic law would be a key performance indicator for the police with a Green Mayor, and this would mean recording of these statistics would be automatic and would help in making sure adequate resources were allocated
I fully support this recommendation.
You have rightly identified that unconscious bias amongst officers, whether in the form of victim-blaming or perceiving traffic offences to be minor, is a significant issue that has yet to be addressed. We agree that training is needed throughout TfL and the police at every level. As Mayor I would include representatives of walking and cycling groups on the TfL Board to help bring their perspective to many aspects of transport planning and policy, and we believe that training and attitudinal reform programmes should be devised in collaboration with these groups too.
I fully support this recommendation.
This is a very important issue to have highlighted. Using a risk exposure model to measure safety is crucial for making our streets less dangerous and encouraging more people to get about our city under their own steam. Measures that discourage cycling and walking could otherwise be justified on safety grounds, and this is absolutely not the way to reach a sustainable transport system.
I fully support this recommendation, indeed I would like to see a real push to minimise the number of lorries on our roads, for example by making greater use of the River Thames to move construction materials. I also believe we could reduce the number of HGVs on our roads during the day. I support a trial of all HGVs being prohibited from central London at rush hour, although it is vital to ensure that the policy actually works and does not redistribute collisions during the day.
I completely agree with this. A heart-breaking number of deaths and injuries are being caused by the inability of drivers in large vehicles to see cyclists and pedestrians around them. All public vehicles should be replaced with low cab designs as quickly as possible, along with retrofitted safety measures on all vehicles entering the city. I would also specifically ensure that all TfL and GLA procurement specifies low cab lorries.
Through the London Plan the Mayor can also ensure that conditions on safe construction vehicles are put into all new planning agreements, and create an ambitious scheme of incentives and regulations for the freight industry, including freight consolidation and switching to smaller vehicles, as well as new designs for HGVs.
The CIRAS confidential reporting system is at last being brought in for buses and would be very effective for freight too. I am very happy to commit to extending this to be included in FORS.
I would be reluctant to entirely end all performance targets for excess waiting times as a reliable bus service is important to ensuring bus travel is well used and provides practical alternative to many car journeys. However it is vital that any targets do not have adverse effects on drivers’ behaviour. I support a full investigation into this issue to ensure robust policies are in place. In the meantime I welcome the recent publication of bus collision data. I have supported for a long time the adoption of the Confidential Safety Reporting system for London’s bus fleet.
I agree that time pressures on drivers can be an important root cause of poor driving and we support the efforts of campaigners to highlight this discrepancy. Greens are committed to ending this practice and will work hard for this as Assembly Members or if I am elected Mayor.
As well as making sure such performance contracts on the buses end, and introducing safety requirements instead, we can do more to cut down on speed incentives of all kinds in London. For example, within the GLA, we can make sure that no contract we procure ever specifies time-based targets for driving on the roads, and we can also work with boroughs and other public authorities to reduce the practice there too and talk to the freight industry about more constructive ways to improve their performance by reducing traffic than by putting pressure on drivers.
I not only support this recommendation, but advocate a number of policies that would help ensure there was a modal shift, such as the adoption of a workplace parking levy on employers who provide parking spaces in central London. I also believe much further advances are necessary in the provision of segregated cycling lanes in London. I also advocate the extension of the cycle hire scheme, especially further into Southwark and South East London.
For further information on my views on cycling I hope these articles on the London Cycling Campaign and Stop Killing Cyclist websites are useful:
I further believe London should be made far more attractive for walking, such as through the provision of a pedestrian and cycling bridge linking Rotherhithe to Canary Wharf and through the pedestrianisation of Oxford Street. I would also like to see London adopt from New York a series of Summer Streets traffic days in many parts of the capital, so that people can take ownership of their streets and look to pedestrianise more streets across the capital where appropriate, such as in parts of Soho.
TfL’s recent policies for more road building, particularly in planning new road crossings and prioritising driver time savings when planning junctions, have seemed more and more to be going back to outdated ‘predict and provide’ policies. It’s not that radical to talk about setting targets for traffic reduction, and I strongly support this call, and would aim to do it by taking more road space away from cars in London and prioritising investment for other ways to get around. In fact, traffic has fallen on most of London’s roads (inner and outer, and by about 10% on average) over the past decade. We need to work with this positive trend away from driving and car ownership among our citizens, putting infrastructure funds into more safe cycling routes not expensive road tunnels and bridges.
To help make this a reality London urgently needs to replace the creaking Congestion Charge (which first started 12 years ago) with something much more sophisticated, covering all of London not just a small central zone. As candidate for Mayor I am committed to start consultation on these plans straight after the election, and to develop a set of fair new charges based on three principles: how far you drive, how polluting your vehicle is and the time of day.
I fully support this recommendation.
The Green Party in London and our leader Natalie Bennett are both on record supporting the introduction of presumed liability for drivers in cases where cyclists are killed and injured, and I fully support this change in the law. Within London, and within the Mayor’s powers, we can do much to improve things without waiting for this to happen.
Road collisions need to be investigated with the same attitude and – as much as possible – the same rigour as is devoted to rail and aviation incidents, where the emphasis is placed on learning quickly from mistakes and preventing future dangers, and lengthy judicial processes are not allowed to delay these investigations and implementation of what is learned.
My personal preference is for an independent London road safety investigation office to be created and suitably resourced, tasked with making recommendations for changes to streets, bus operations, policies and incentives for freight, cars and public transport vehicles to highways authorities, the London Mayor and Assembly and Transport for London as quickly as possible after incidents occur. They should also be responsible for gathering information on ‘near misses’ and devising ways to improve safety pro-actively not merely in response to deaths and injuries that could have been foreseen.
In addition Caroline Pidgeon made the following comments:
I would also like to take this opportunity to say that I have long championed greater road safety in London and the need for London’s roads to be much safer and attractive for pedestrians and cyclists. For example I took the lead on exposing the problem that many pedestrian crossings in London were not meeting the 2005 Department for Transport standard for the minimum time that should be granted to pedestrians when crossing the road at a traffic signal. Following my intervention I am pleased to say all these standard crossings have been upgraded.
I have also championed the need for every pedestrian crossing to meet the 1995 Department for Transport standard for blind and visually impaired people. All these sub-standard crossings will finally be upgraded by March 2016.
I hope these links are useful.
As part of my work on the London Assembly Transport Committee I also produced a report on how walking could be made safer and more attractive in London. The report Walk This Way can be seen here:
We ask the new Mayor to support our calls for reducing danger at source, for the safety of all road users as part of implementing a sustainable transport system:
NOTES FOR EDITORS AND MAYORAL CANDIDATES:
“We need to go further than highway engineering to look at law enforcement and other ways of reducing danger at source, ” says Lord Berkeley, RDRF President, ”We also need to have a new way of measuring road danger, and include the other threats to human well-being from road traffic as part of the Mayor’s commitment to a healthy and civilised transport system”.
“Mobility measured crudely in terms of how many kilometres we move around every day has nothing whatsoever to do with quality of life, rich human interaction, satisfaction, happiness and a detailed knowledge and familiarity with places and the things we chose to do in those places.”Our roles as transport professionals or campaigners are always related to the assumption – however unstated that assumption may be – that mobility is, in itself, inherently desirable. It is, like all background assumptions or cultural themes, so deeply seated that only careful analysis will suffice in assisting us in understanding what modern transport thinking is about. And when I say “transport thinking” I mean not just that of transport professionals (highway engineers, transport planners, road safety professionals, land use planners etc.). Indeed, the current assumptions we have about mobility are so wide reaching that they impact on just about every corner of modern life.
This important and necessary book is exactly what we need to help put questions probing so many areas of modern society, as well as those immediately concerning transport professionals. Why, for example, has the cutting of the fuel tax accelerator (at massive cost to the exchequer) gone without opposition in parliament or any real public debate? If we are really supposed to be concerned about climate change, why has a level of motorisation in this country been accepted which, if universalised, would mean no prospect of reducing greenhouse gas emissions with any existing or likely technology? Do we really value local community? Are we able to even talk about all the various depredations of contemporary car culture?
In modern society, actually questioning the sense of entitlement to largely unhindered car usage is highly unusual. Some of us have tried to do so. John Adams has used the concept of “hypermobility”. With Adams and Mayer Hillman, Whitelegg carried out the key work on the loss of children’s’ independent mobility over just a short period of modern time: “One False Move”. But this kind of questioning has had little impact on actual practice, particularly in the UK.
Indeed, this questioning of assumptions – I find myself using that word again and again because it is the key one – is discouraged by those in the “Smarter Travel” movement and elsewhere as unhelpful. I disagree. Stating what is wrong with car culture and the worship of mobility is necessary. The public, as well as professionals, can benefit from being made aware of the numerous ramifications of contemporary transport and associated policies.
Biting this bullet is exactly what Whitelegg does here: I would argue that the Introduction and first two short chapters of the book are a “must read” for all transport professionals. In fact, it should be required reading for first year students on not just transport related university courses, but social science courses as the implications are so widespread. This is easily recommended because of the books concise nature and low cost as an e-book.
Of course, concision means the arguments against the villains of the piece (Air pollution; Death and injury on the roads; Energy consumption; Climate Change; Obesity and related health impacts; Community disruption; Equality and social justice; Fiscal burdens) each of which gets a chapter, are necessarily brief.
I would also argue against danger being treated in terms of the end product of death and injury. Whitelegg is a fan of the “Vision Zero” approach. Some of us are deeply sceptical of this idea, simply because death and injuries can and have been reduced precisely because of the decline of walking and cycling along with most processes of motorisation. (Whitelegg acknowledges this, but I think that he is not fully aware of how the “casualty reduction” trope has worked against reducing danger on the roads.)
Nevertheless, each chapter is worth reading, if only to provide a basis for further study. Above all, this book sets down an alternative framework for us. It is”…intended to promote the abandonment of the mobility paradigm and its replacement by something that maximises benefits to all sections of society locally and globally and minimises disbenefits. For convenience this is referred to as the accessibility paradigm.” A New Urban Design and Transport Planning Philosophy for a Sustainable Future: indeed.
The following essay is based on a review of “Is it safe in numbers?” by Christie and Pike (in Injury Prevention August 2015 Vol 21 No. 4 276-277 – see the reference to it here ) . It indicates certain attitudes and beliefs about human behaviour amongst “road safety” researchers and professionals – attitudes and beliefs which we think it important to criticise.What is “Safety in Numbers”?
The “Safety in Numbers” (SiN) thesis is associated with Jacobsen, and argues that, as Christie and Pike note:
“Based on data from the Netherlands, Denmark, USA and UK, Jacobsen’s paper in 2003 1 identiﬁed the non-linearity between the number of cyclists and pedestrians and the risk of injury from being hit by a motor vehicle. In other words, the more people walked and cycled, the fewer the number and rate of trafﬁc collisions and injuries experienced by cyclists and pedestrians—a non-linear relationship. Jacobsen, termed this relationship, ‘Safety in Numbers’ (SIN), which was shown at different levels of scale, whether at an intersection, a city or a country. More recent work has since shown SIN to occur in other countries such as Australia” (*)
I am not here restricting myself to, or defending, the work of Jacobsen. I am, however, defending the idea that people adapt to perceptions of risk (risk compensation, henceforth RC) and that SiN is a manifestation of this. In fact, a reduction in casualty rate per motor vehicle at a roundabout with the increase in flow of motor vehicles through it was noted in 1962 in a paper quoted by the father of road safety studies, Reuben Smeed, shortly afterwards. For his and other illustrations of what RC is about, see Chapter 2 here and of course the work of John Adams , particularly “Risk and Freedom” and “Risk” downloadable from his site.
RC is the causative mechanism for numerous phenomena. Some of these are the effects of “road safety” interventions which have adverse effects on those of us outside cars: the iconic case of seat belts, for example: . In presentations I often refer to the comments of Alec Issigonis about the lack of “safety features” in his Mini Minor: “If I had wanted to build a safe car, I would have put nails in the dashboard”, generally to be greeted with laughter. The effects of the use of more crashworthy cars on those outside them have been anything but laughable.
Sometimes there are beneficial types of adaptive behaviour to changes in the transport mix – albeit not ones created by “road safety” or other transport interventions. These are the ones referred to by Christie and Pike (increased numbers of people walking and cycling). Consider the following two cases. Firstly the case of an increase in cycling in the first decade of the current administration of London’s transport affairs through the GLA and TfL:Cycling in London 2000 – 2010
Looking at the annual reports by Transport for London for the first decade of his century, we see a decline in reported Killed and Seriously Injured (the most reliable casualty statistics) cyclists, moving back up to around the 2000 level in 2009. Over this time cycling approximately doubled in London, indicating something like a 40% cut in the KSI rate for the average cyclist.
What’s the explanation for this? There have been similar casualty rate declines for other modes, but these are claimed to be due to highway and vehicle engineering. There has been little of engineering with significant benefit for cyclists – the much-vaunted segregated cycle tracks promised in the Mayor’s Vision for Cycling are only being completed now, in mid-2015. Policing of London’s drivers is minimal at best, with a flurry of activity occurring at the end of 2013 after a spate of cyclist deaths.
There has been an increase in cyclist training, with some evidence that recipients are less likely to be involved in collisions – but the vast majority of London’s cyclists have not had this training. There have been advertising and publicity campaigns asking cyclists and drivers to behave in certain ways: this form of “road safety” intervention is the least proven of all types.
There is one possible area where some interventions by Transport for London may have been effective: collisions where cyclists are killed under the wheels of lorries (HGVs). While the Killed statistic is the most reliable of all casualty statistics, in London it is difficult to use, as it is small for cyclists – the annual number is typically between 9 and 18 and is difficult to use in statistical analysis. Nevertheless, the number of cyclists killed in this way stayed more or less the same during the first decade of this century despite there being an increase in lorry traffic (and even more so in the construction industry, whose vehicles are particularly implicated) in the areas where most London cycling occurs – inner and central London. Even more striking, the increase in cycling in inner London was greater than the London average: other things being equal, one might have expected the number of cyclists killed in this way to be 3 – 4 times higher than it was in this decade. (Of course, as will be pointed out below, this is not any reason for complacency – the lorries issue is one which should be addressed forcefully, as we argue here ).
What’s the reason for this? TfL during this decade made efforts to alert lorry drivers, a small fraction of cyclists have been warned not to undertake lorries, and operators were urged to use additional mirrors. But would these efforts have resulted in a massive cut in the death rate amongst cyclists? My argument would be that there has been substantial publicity (particularly in London’s Evening Standard and the London BBC and ITV news programmes), and likely informal discussion among the lorry driver community.
It is crucial to remember that this need not involve what is often referred to as “respect” for cyclists – as in so-called “mutual respect” advertising campaigns – but simple awareness of cyclists. Lorry drivers may still (or even more so) regard cyclists as a hazard or menace: the point is that they appear to be more willing to watch out for them.
Of course, outside the community of professional lorry drivers, we would expect the SiN effect to be less, as indeed it appears to be with a less dramatic fall in the cyclist casualty rate.
Of other explanations the main one raised is of course cycle helmet wearing, with use apparently increasing during this time period. On this I would refer to the work by the Cyclists’ Touring Club and other evidence collected by the Bicycle Helmet Research Foundation.
In addition, we have to ask what the beneficial effect of cycle helmets would be on the Serious Injury figures. (As already noted, the annual number of cyclist deaths is difficult to use in statistical analysis, and the majority of these either involve lorries or high speed collisions with motor vehicles where helmets will have little benefit).
Even where a helmet may have had a beneficial effect after a collision, the collision should still be analysed as a Serious Injury (SI) for reporting (on the STATS 19 form) purposes. One reason for this is that where the helmet liner has been damaged (supposedly preventing a head injury from being Serious rather than Slight) the injured person should still be under observation, and thus more likely to be recorded as a Serious Injury. Another is that other injuries may fulfil the SI criteria. All of this applies even without any adaptive (risk compensatory) behaviour by either helmeted cyclists or other road users towards them.Removal of pedestrian guard railings in London
This is the second case: For the evidence see the debate with John Adams in Local Transport Today 26/08/2011. Essentially, the pressure put on motorists to have to watch out for crossing pedestrians and be more careful has had some beneficial effect. Of course, there are always other factors – like having sufficiently slow speeds – but there is still the sort of effect that SiN is all about.What we think of SiN
Our reading of SiN as a form of adaptive behaviour/RC is, like RC, something which we think of as a plausible reason for some phenomena. It is important to state what we DON’T think about it.
Firstly: “Implied in the SIN concept is that cyclists and pedestrians travel in proximity with each other and that the protective effect is similar to the protective effect of animal herds”. We have no evidence of this assumption. The “critical mass” sometimes referred to in discussions about SiN is the effect of increasing numbers impressing greater awareness on other road users, specifically drivers.
Secondly, it is not sufficient to argue that all we have to do is to increase the numbers of people walking and cycling – nor has anybody ever suggested this to be the case. The road danger reduction agenda argues that we require a shift in our everyday assumptions about transport and safety. This may be manifested through technological changes (as in highway and vehicle engineering, or in aids to law enforcement) or simply in the ways people behave.
UK cyclists riding in in countries like France and Spain point out significantly different driver behaviour towards them: the idea that UK drivers (with basically similar genetic make-up) could not change, albeit over some time, to behave the same way is nonsense. That does not mean that the usual publicity campaigns will be effective, or that relying on drivers to change their behaviour because they have also cycled will be effective. It just means that change occurs – often entirely irrespective of any official “road safety” intervention.
SiN is at least a partial explanation for some beneficial changes, and can be part of wider moves to reduce danger at source.
By contrast, the reaction of some such as Christie and Pike is hyperbolic. The attention of public health promoters was apparently “grabbed” by the concept of SiN, allowing them to make “clarion calls” resulting in :
“… a paradigm shift among planners and engineers who could think about pedestrian and bicycle safety in a different way and not be so fearful that by encouraging increases in walking and cycling they would see an increase in trafﬁc collisions and causalities”.
I doubt that there has been a “paradigm shift” except in terms of increased verbal “support” for walking and cycling, with an exception being in London – (mainly) characterised by segregating, rather than integrating cyclists with the general traffic flow. Public health professionals have been pointing out the benefits of walking and cycling for over twenty-five years, showing that the benefits of cycling in particular far outweighed the dangers even in then existing conditions (which were not to be tolerated anyway).
Christie and Pike are particularly concerned about criticism of helmet advocacy which draws attention to the adverse effects on cycling levels. Given the adverse effects of compulsion http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/17/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-law/ , this is hardly surprising.(no comment is made by Christie and Pike about this evidence, nor the likely reasons for a lack of effect of mandation http://rdrf.org.uk/2013/12/27/the-effects-of-new-zealands-cycle-helmet-law-the-evidence-and-what-it-means/ .)
There is an alternative source of concern about SiN, namely from the new wave of cycle campaigners pushing for full y segregated cycle tracks as the key feature of a pro-cycling programme. Their argument is that such provision creates safe conditions to cycle, which then supports mass cycling. The consensus in RDRF is that while we’re happy to go along with the current push for “Space4Cycling” in the UK and London in particular, we have reservations about specific issues (driver behaviour at junctions, potential conflict with pedestrians at bus bypasses and on segregated cycle tracks), the lack of relevance on rural roads and more generally the possible adverse effects on the majority of streets where cyclists will travel in proximity to motor vehicles.
However, we are fully in agreement with the idea that cycling must be supported as an everyday form of basic transport carried out ordinary people wearing ordinary clothes, as opposed to a specialised athletic pursuit (although that can also be accommodated). Our main difference is a concern about “dangerising” existing cycling, and arguing for support for those people already cycling, as well as the full range of measures required for reducing danger at source for cyclists and others, whether highway engineering or other methods: vehicle technologies, law enforcement etc.
Our view is that high cycling rates and low cycling casualty rates per journey are achieved when cycling is regarded as a normal form of transport where special clothing and helmets are not seen as required. This appears to be at odds with Christie and Pike.
Why the panic?
There has traditionally been hostility towards increasing the numbers of people walking and cycling among “road safety” professionals, as “vulnerable road users” outside cars they are particularly prone to injury and death after collisions and not to be encouraged. (This opposition does not extend to a significant proportion of the “road safety” industry that advocates the far more hazardous form of transport that is motorcycling). Cycling, in particular, is seen as problematic.
One way this manifests itself is the way the problem is measured. For us this is critical, and requires a fundamental transformation in the way we conceptualise safety on the road. For traditional “road safety” professionals, it is the aggregate number of KSIs, or at least the aggregate number of a road user group KSIs. So, Christie and Pike mention: “…the relative high risk of injury among pedestrians and cyclists from deprived areas, where we know people walk more because there is less access to a car?” as a counter to SiN. But is there this “high risk of injury”?
What we know from such neighbourhoods is that there is indeed far more walking and street play. Taking into account this level of exposure, such pedestrians may in fact have quite a low level of risk – a low rate of injury per hour spent walking or playing in the street. But then an exposure based measure is not what the “road safety industry” is interested in.
Another indication of a scared reaction to prospects of increased cycling is: “… that 8 out of 10 injured cyclists result from single crashes not involving a collision with a motor vehicle”. Of course, as with all road crashes, there is the question of under-reporting. But there is no reason to think that there has been any change in the proportion of cyclist casualties that are under-reported: in terms of a trend, the picture is the same. Also, how serious are these collisions that might involve children playing (often off-road) on bicycles?
More importantly, is it really helpful to suggest that danger from the (ab)use of motor vehicles is not the problem? Is that what the “road safety” professionals want us to think?
The conceptualising of cycling as, we think, a key element in helmet advocacy.??? Sure enough, one of the authors mentions cycle helmet wearing as one of his two key points to consider when taking to the roads in this video . (The other is seat belt wearing which we would think of as grimly ironic in this context given the adverse effects of seat belt laws on cyclists and pedestrians) .And they ignore unreported pedestrian falls, which probably mean that figures for the relative danger of walking and cycling make cycling look worse than it is.
Christie and Pike do acknowledge that there is some sort of possible SiN effect, and call – as academics are so wont to – for further research. We would also agree with them that good quality highway engineering is required for cyclists and pedestrians.
But we need to point out the flaws in a belief system that has stood in the way of the more benign modes for far too long, and indeed been part of the problem for walkers and cyclists. If new research is indeed forthcoming, it has to take into account two features constantly highlighted by the road danger reduction movement. Firstly the hierarchy of danger in a car-centric society with discrimination against non-car modes, specifically, cycling as key. Secondly, that people constantly adapt to their perceptions of risk. Otherwise we will get nowhere.
NOTE* Linearity is the wrong word. The null hypothesis is that the risk does not change with cyclist numbers.