Memorandum by the Parliamentary Advisory
Council for Transport Safety (WTC 07)
WALKING IN TOWNS AND CITIES
1. PACTS welcomes this opportunity to contribute
to the debate on walking safely in towns and cities. PACTS is
an associate all-party group and registered charity advising and
informing Members of Parliament on road, rail and air safety issues.
It brings together technical expertise from the public, private,
academic and professional sectors to promote research based solutions
to identified transport safety problems. Its objective is to promote
transport safety legislation to protect human life.
2. PACTS welcomes the Government document
Encouraging Walking (DETR, 2000 a), and acknowledges that walking
is indeed good for people, good for communities, environmentally
sound, and also a very common mode of transport for shorter journeys.
PACTS is delighted that the Government wishes to make walking
easier, more pleasant and above all, safer.
3. However it is important to reiterate
the point made by the Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
Committee (1999) that, "any efforts to encourage walking
must be accompanied by measures to improve the standards of safety.
The Government must insist that local authorities ensure that
the needs of the more vulnerable road users are taken fully into
account by their designs for new layouts."
4. In towns and cities pedestrians may certainly
be classed as "vulnerable road users". Of the 3,423
people killed in road incidents in 1999 in Great Britain, 870
(25 per cent) were pedestrians. Pedestrians comprised 8,955 (23
per cent) of the total 39,122 people seriously injured in the
same year (DETR, 2000 b). The overwhelming majority of these deaths
and serious injuries occurred in urban areas.
5. In the Road Safety Strategy the Government
set targets to reduce road deaths and serious injuries by 40 per
cent by 2010, and by 50 per cent for children. They also aim for
a 10 per cent reduction in the slight casualty rate, expressed
as the number of people slightly injured per 100 million vehicle
kilometres (DETR, 2000c). If these targets are not to be undermined
by pedestrians being exposed in increasing numbers to the risks
of traffic related injury, then effective road safety measures
must be implemented.
6. Whilst Britain's overall road safety
record is said to compare favourably with other European recordswith
just under 10 people killed and 110 people seriously injured everydaythe
number of child pedestrians killed is particularly high: 107 people
under the age 15 died in 1999 (DETR, 2000 b).
7. Risk of injury is not equally distributed
amongst pedestrians. Children, the young and the elderly are most
at risk of injury (ETSC, 1999). Furthermore children from poorer
families are five times more likely to be killed in road accidents
when out walking than children from other families. Children from
minority ethnic groups also suffer disproportionately from road
crash injuries (DETR, 2000 d).
8. According to a DETR study, children in
Britain spend substantially more time on main roads than in the
Netherlands and France, and half of Britain's inflated accident
rate can be explained in terms of this greater exposure to busier
roads. Busier roads are characterised by higher speed limits and
large volumes of traffic (DETR, 1999).
9. It is encouraging to note the DETR's
conviction that, "good planning and design can help to reduce
the deterrent effect that traffic has on walking" (DETR,
2000 a). The current traffic system has been designed predominantly
from a car-user perspective. In its report ETSC is therefore able
to argue that the system lacks coherent planning of route networks
10. Urban transport strategies should include
the development and maintenance of a comprehensive, safe, well-signed
and well-lit network of pedestrian routes, providing easy access
to all major developments (ETSC, 1999). Detailed improvements
would include: direct paths, good numbers of pedestrians, safe
play areas, adequate pavement width, and restricted pavement parking.
There would be adequate crossings at street level and guard-rails
and distanced stop lines that become facilities that people will
choose to use.
11. However infrastructure alone will not
adequately reduce pedestrian casualties whilst the sheer volume
and speed of traffic remain a threat. Indeed, ETSC recognises
that heavy traffic is a major deterrent to cycling and walking,
while the DETR Comparative Study identified that main through
roads are associated with a risk for pedestrians more than three
times that for local roads.
12. The Institute of Highways and Transportation
(IHT, 1996) in their hierarchy of measures cite traffic reduction
as the first priority, followed by speed reduction. The IHT contend
that implementing measures further up the hierarchy makes it easier
to introduce the lower level measures (junction treatment; redistribution
of road space; provision of special facilities).
13. This approach is supported by the DETR
Comparative Study, the conclusions of which were outlined in paragraph
8. PACTS endorses their recommendation of the need to consider
the spatial relation of major roads to housing and the speed limits
in residential areas. The study suggests separating major traffic
streams from pedestrians, and encouraging education and training
to improve safety behaviour. Their study supports traffic calming
and lower speed limits. Reducing vehicle speeds on busier roads
with higher speed limits will benefit child pedestrians substantially.
14. Across Europe as a whole most child
pedestrian accidents occur near the home and in light traffic
(ETSC, 1999). To this end Home Zones may be an effective strategy
for reducing conflict between vulnerable pedestrians and vehicles.
Home Zones and 20 mph Zones
15. PACTS welcomes the use of Home Zones
in the nine pilot areas, and their effective monitoring. A key
feature of the home zones is their pedestrian-sensitive speed
limits. The DETR have recognised that the most important problem
in encouraging walking is inappropriate vehicle speed (DETR, 2000
a). In June 1999 the Government gave local authorities delegated
powers to introduce 20 mph speed zones. This reflects the conclusions
of research that has shown that a one mile per hour reduction
in the 85th percentile speed produces a 6-7 per cent change in
the number of accidents per year (Stark, 1995).
16. Research by TRL found that with 20 mph
zones the average annual accident frequency fell by 60 per cent.
This is a statistically significant reduction. Child pedestrian
accidents fell by 70 per cent and the overall mean speed reduced
from 25 mph to 16 mph. The same report concludes that successful
schemes consult the community at an early stage, recognising that
local support is essential to the success of any scheme. Also
crucial is the implementation of engineering measures to enforce
the speed limit: measures must be under 100m apart to achieve
target speeds. A typical cost for a scheme is about £100,000
to £200,000 (TRL, 1996).
17. The DETR assert that Home Zones require
planning and acceptance of personal responsibility, along with
traffic calming, enforcement cameras, education and publicity.
18. The DETR assert that it is "ultimately,
the responsibility of the driver to be aware of pedestrians and
to drive at a speed within the limit and appropriate to the conditions"
(DETR, 2000 a). However research has indicated that risk in the
presence of special measures is much higher in Britain than in
France and the Netherlands (DETR, 1999). PACTS therefore recommends
that schemes are evaluated and that levels of effectiveness be
collated centrally, and at the European level, in order that guidelines
for best practice are then passed to local authorities.
19. Research carried out on behalf of the
DETR by consultants Allot & Lomax (1999) in six UK 20 mph
zones, found the zones had little effect in encouraging walking.
They contend that measures did not go far enough to give parents
confidence in their children's safety. Allot & Lomax recommends
significant changes to the function of the street through more
stringent measures (including road closure, 10 mph limit). They
consider that Home Zones may be more appropriate in securing changes
to the function of the street (Home Zone News, 2000).
20. PACTS encourages the Government to honour
its pledge to legislate in due course if traffic calming measures
do not prove adequate (DETR, 2000 a). Central Government also
has a role in ensuring that local authorities follow guidance
on consulting widely on proposed schemes at an early stage, monitoring
them once in place, and being prepared to modify them if problems
arise (DETR, 2000 a).
21. Of the local authorities implementing
20 mph zones, 60 per cent quote accident reduction as the main
justification and 80 per cent are in residential areas (TRL, 1996).
PACTS recommends that the zones are created in those areas with
highest casualty rates, as prescribed by the local authority safety
audits, required in the Ten Year Plan (DETR, 2000 e). Given the
higher vulnerability of children from families in lower socio-economic
groups, children from minority ethnic groups, and the elderly,
we expect traffic calming schemes to take place in areas with
high population of these road users. Decisions regarding designation
of 20 mph zones should be transparent and monitored.
22. PACTS supports the Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs Committee's previous recommendation; "We
recommend that the government take the necessary measures to ensure
manufacturers are required to design cars in ways which minimise
the harm caused to pedestrians and cyclists in the event of a
collision", (Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
23. The Government should encourage vehicle
improvements which prevent accidents happening and improvements
which protect pedestrians in the event of a collision. In Tomorrow's
Roads: Safer for Everyone, the Government reaffirmed its commitment
to "proposals for the European Commission to bring forward
a Directive in early 2000 to make car fronts safer. This should
be a challenging initiative which could ultimately reduce fatalities
and serious injuries to pedestrians by up to 20 per cent"
(DETR 2000 c). PACTS urges the Committee to repeat its earlier
recommendation in this report on walking, as this would reflect
the importance of progress in this area.
24. Other design proposals could also have
a positive effect on pedestrian casualties. The UK is supporting
a European Commission directive to make front underrun guards
compulsory for HGVs, which could be implemented by 2003. There
is potential also for more sophisticated braking systems and collision
avoidance systems at affordable cost, compulsory daytime running
lamps, and improved rubber compounds and tyre construction, which
lead to increased reliability and road surface adhesion.
25. "In the next few years we expect
to see vehicles that are "intelligent" in their own
right, helping to avoid accidents and protect road users".
(DETR, 2000 c). PACTS supports this sentiment and welcomes in
particular research into the potential of Intelligent Speed Adaptation.
This could lead to a significant reduction in fatal road crashes
involving all classes of road users (University of Leeds and Motor
Industry Research Association, 2000). As speed is a contributing
factor in as many as one in three road crashes and 70 per cent
of drivers currently break the 30 mph speed limit, pedestrians
will benefit substantially from technological approaches to speed
26. PACTS supports the DETR's ambition of
rigorous enforcement of existing speed limits, through greater
use of digital cameras and new technology, including speed-activated
warning systems. We therefore wish to see adequate provision of
resources to local authorities for enforcement as well as traffic
calming measures. Income raised from the existing penalty fines
should be hypothecated to pay for the administrative costs and
more cameras. This should be implemented immediately (Environment,
Transport and Regional Affairs Committee, 1999).
27. Where hypothecation has happened on
a trial basis, the number of people killed and seriously injured
in road accidents has fallen by up to 50 per cent. On roads in
Northamptonshire 38 people were killed or seriously injured during
August 2000, compared to 76 people in the same month last year
(Webster, 2000). This has been achieved in part by the fact that
more than twice as many tickets have been issued in Northamptonshire
this year compared to last year. The combination of tough enforcement
and wide publicity has brought a 13 per cent reduction in the
average speed of motorists in Northamptonshire.
28. We support the Environment, Transport
and Regional Affairs Committee 9th Report where it advises that
there "must be comprehensive analysis of the costs and benefits
of increasing spending on traffic policing in relation to the
growing costs of congestion and the costs of injuries to the National
Resources and Evaluation
29. The DETR's 10 Year Plan focuses more
on spending to improve the security of car parks and stations
with CCTV than it does on road policing to protect the moving
pedestrian. However, in Our Towns and Cities, the DETR indicates
that "Transport 2010: The 10 Year Plan" will fund schemes
to improve pedestrian environment including safe routes to schools
and stations. The plan also requires funding of Home Zones in
residential areas, with traffic calming schemes, and the implementation
of pilot "Clear Zones" in towns and city centres (DETR,
30. Practical guidance has been published
for local authorities on measures they should include in the Local
Transport Plans (LTPs) to promote pedestrian safety (DETR, 2000
c). PACTS hopes that this guidance is able to be realised in practice
through provision of adequate resources. Government must monitor
and evaluate effectiveness of LTPs and of the measures implemented
by local authorities.
31. Fear of speeding traffic, accidents
and injury is one of the main reasons people give for not walking
or letting their children walk more. To encourage walking safety
and convenience must be combined. Convenient and safe pedestrian
provision must therefore be an integral and properly funded aspect
of our traffic systems. To promote inclusion, a senior local authority
officer must be responsible for including pedestrian provision
in the design process. In addition, the Government should give
consideration to the establishment of a Walking forum, similar
to those for motorists and motorcycling.
32. In order for planning to be most effective,
Central Government needs to raise awareness of the problems encountered
by pedestrians amongst other road users (DETR, 2000 a). Accompanying
this, vulnerable road users themselves need to be better advised
in order to encourage them to protect themselves, as far as is
possible. Road safety training schemes should be tailored for
various audiences, for example the elderly, for maximum impact
33. Walking is an activity undertaken by
almost all road users at some point. To encourage walking on a
greater scale, the road hierarchy must be re-allocated to allow
a higher priority for vulnerable road users. PACTS recommends
there is an annual report to Parliament on progress made towards
the targets of improved pedestrian safety and increased levels
of walking in towns and cities.
34. This memorandum has highlighted the
importance of reducing both vehicle speeds and the volume of traffic
as part of a comprehensive traffic management strategy, in order
to improve safety for vulnerable users. Fewer vehicles and slower
speeds will result in lower casualties and community perceptions
of lower risk. PACTS urges the Committee to ensure that its final
report and recommendations incorporate this perspective.
Allot & Lomax (1999) Urban street activity
in 20 mph zones: emerging findings, Babtie, Manchester.
DETR (1999) Comparative Study of European
Child Pedestrian Exposure and Accidents, MVA Ltd, Surrey.
DETR (2000 a) Encouraging Walking, DETR,
DETR (2000 b) Road Accidents Great Britain:
1999. The Casualty Report, The Stationery Office, London.
DETR (2000 c) Tomorrows RoadsSafer
for Everyone, DETR, London.
DETR (2000 d) Our towns and cities: the future,
DETR (2000 e) Transport 2010: The 10 Year
Plan, DETR, London.
Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs
Committee, House of Commons: (1999) Ninth Report, Integrated
White Paper, Vol 1, The Stationery Office, London.
European Transport Safety Council (1999) Safety
of Pedestrians and Cyclists in Urban Areas. ETSC, Brussels.
Home Zone News, (December 2000) Issue 1,
National Children's Bureau Enterprises, London.
Institution of Highways and Transportation (1996)
Cycle-friendly infrastructure, London.
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urban problem. Paper presented to the PTRC Annual Meeting,
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of Traffic Calming Schemes in 20 mph Zones, TRL, Berkshire.
University of Leeds and Motor Industry Research
Association (2000) External Vehicle Speed Control. Institute for
Transport Studies, Leeds.
Webster, B (2000) Deaths fall as speed camera
penalties soar, The Times (20 November 2000), London.