Memorandum by the Institution of Civil
Engineers (RTS 138)
The Institution of Civil Engineers sees this
inquiry in the context of the rehabilitation of the public realm
from a place where vehicle use has come to dominate, to one where
there is a healthy balance between vehicles and people.
There is a concern that a significant proportion
of the population are unhappy with city life, leading to the dispersal
of urban populations into rural areas, and increasing car dependency,
energy use, and global warming in the process.
The challenge is to create conditions in existing
development where people will choose to live.
The Institution of Civil Engineers applauds
the Committee in taking forward this inquiry.
This submission is based on four key studies:
Vision for Road Safety beyond 2000
This report, published by the Institution of
Civil Engineers advocates:
educationto achieve a change
in attitude towards safety. It is noted that children are expected
to behave as adultssomething that they cannot do owing
to skills of judging moving traffic and distance which are yet
engineeringto create a road
environment that encourages safe road user behaviour and that
is forgiving of the mistakes people inevitably make. The road
environment should be designed and managed, and vehicles designed
and maintained to minimise the risk of a crash occurring; and
that should a crash occur, those involved escape serious injury.
Vehicles should be designed to
protect all road users, including pedestrians and cyclists, as
well as occupants.
Pedestrian safe vehicles, including
compressible fronts, pedestrian air bags, and collision avoidance
Advanced transport telematic
systems, including driver information systems, speed control and
collision avoidance should be developed and introduced.
Speed limits should be set to
minimise the probability of a crash occurring, and should one
occur, to ensure those involved escape serious injury.
The penalty system should be
reviewed to provide consistency with other forms of violent crime.
Traffic regulations should be
enforced, particularly speed limits in residential areas and controls
on obstructive parking.
The ICE convened a working party under the Urban
Design Alliance to review the underlying philosophy, standards
and practice employed in designing and managing the streets of
Great Britain. The consultation report was published in June 2000.
A final report will be published shortly.
The report found:
example streets designed around the largest vehicles ever likely
to be encountered.
Design being conducted under narrowly
Underlying assumptions on which practice
and standards are based, are not necessarily justified.
Slavish adherence to guidance and
regulations, and the tendency to treat guidance as instruction.
This report was produced by a grouping of the
key professional institutions involved in Transport convened by
ICE under the Engineering Council.
The report outlines a programme for the transformation
of the transport system in the UK over a 20 year period.
Access for allby age, sex,
educational attainment, affluence, etc.
Transport without coststransport
systems which impose minimal costs on others in terms of noise,
pollution, congestion, death, damage and injury.
The report proposes the introduction of environmental
and people friendly vehicles:
Low noiselow engine, exhaust
and tyre noise, allied to low noise road surfaces.
The report demonstrates the great potential
from the introduction of an intelligent transport system including:
speed control/electronic traffic
traffic management; and
It also stresses that for a fully integrated
transport system, all modes of transport need to be funded and
regulated on an equivalent and fair basis, including equal safety
standards and a common system for safety and environmental risk
The report stresses that it is better to pay
for solutions than to continue to pay for the problems.
This report published by the Institution of
Civil Engineers, in conjunction with the Royal Town Planning Institute
proposes a revision of the road classification defined on the
basis of function. Many A roads no longer serve a national or
regional function, having been by-passed by a more modern motorway
and trunk road system. Similarly, many B roads are access roads.
The system proposed would lead to the declassification of many
B roads, and the downgrading of many A roads. The signing system
would draw a greater distinction between roads for vehicles and
roads for people.
Other recommendations were for the integration
of the transport and land use planning systems, including a national
strategy, and the introduction of clear and customer focussed
The guidance system for the design and management
of public realm, of which speed limits and actual speed is a part,
should be based on evidence based design.
The Urban Design Alliance through its report
Designing Streets for People, has been developing the principle
of evidence based design. The report calls for the underlying
reasoning and principles behind guidance and standards to be made
public, to enable informed interpretation. "Evidence Based
Design" was the term coined: to challenge existing practice,
ensure it is based on sound science, and make the justification
easily accessible to practitioners so that they can use their
professional judgement to tailor the solution to local circumstance.
Attention is also drawn to the complexity of the regulatory environment
in which practitioners have to operate and the desirability to
simplify wherever possible.
A system based on evidence based design would
operate along these lines.
Define what we want from the public realm:
provide evidence based design guidance
on how those objectives can be met; and
arrange the design and management
of the space and the vehicles that use the space around those
Fitness for purpose tests
The underlying assumptions of the design and
management of streets should be tested against contemporary need.
In terms of objectives, there will be a range
from quick journey times, through to providing a liveable street
environment. Not all roads are the same. The objectives for a
street should be set to reflect the wide range of interests and
needs to be met, from needs of statutory undertakers, of through
traffic and of pedestrians, cyclists and frontagers.
In the context of road danger, an approach might
be to define acceptable risk levels for different types of road,
then to arrange the management of individual roads in reflecting
the relative hazard posed by different forms of vehicle technology.
Evidence based design guidance
Underlying principles and guidance as to how
the objectives may be reached should be based on sound science,
and statistics. There is a wide range of knowledge to draw upon,
from basic physics, through to probability and statistics and
behavioural science, as well as practical experience.
The guidance should be holistic and treat the
public realm as a single entity, rather than attempt to address
it as a series of disconnected single issues.
Similarly it is important to apply the same
holistic approach to the design of vehicles, and the design and
management of the roads which they use, rather than them independent
entities. There is scope to adapt human behaviour, but no scope
to change the human body and its ability to withstand injury.
The accommodation must be on the side of the design of vehicles,
the design of the road environment, and in the way the space is
It is noted that the then Department of Transport
in its strategy on Child Pedestrian Safety published in 1996 identified
the cost of introducing 20 mph zones on 80 per cent of suitable
Cost of measures: £2.3 billion;
Cost of casualties: £2.432 billion;
Casualties saved: £1.362 billion;
Total savings including non-injury
accidents saved: £2.118 billion.
These Government statistics give an indication
of both the benefits (a rate of return of over 90 per cent per
annum) of appropriate areas of reduced speed, and also the costs
of introducing such measures. It remains the case that the resources
being devoted to safety are substantially adrift of this figure.
The current £30 million sum announced for Home Zones, may
represent less than 1 per cent of the amount that would be required
The General public should be made aware of the
underlying causes of crashes, what happens during the crash, and
in particular, what the main injury mechanisms are, in the expectation
that a better understanding of the actual risks, will encourage
people to adjust their behaviour. Diagrams from the Vision for
Road Safety Beyond 2000 report are enclosed as Annex 1.
We invite the Select Committee to explore the
extent to which highway authorities, vehicle manufacturers and
other relevant bodies, may be liable.
Article 8 European Convention on Human Rights
We invite the select committee to explore the
relevance of Article 8 to the question of speed.