National Accident Trends and Bus Accidents in London

Fatal accidents on Britain’s roads rose 4% to 1,792 last year. That’s the highest level since 2011 and is clear evidence that fatal accidents are not falling despite all the chest beating of politicians about excessive speeds, and millions of pounds spent on speed cameras, speed awareness courses and traffic calming.

The DfT say the change in fatalities are not statistically significant, but even more alarming is the KSI figure which was up 8% in 2016 over the previous year and which is more statistically significant. The slight injuries were only up 4% but that may have been particularly affected by a change in the reporting system and are notoriously senstive to “under-reporting”.

Explanations from the DfT are the impact of the weather, the fact that accidents tend to rise when the economy is bouyant, plus lots of other factors. Note that the growth in traffic is only a very minor possible factor, and more traffic congestion can actually reduce accidents.

So in summary, the UK road safety industry and its experts have been an abject failure since about 2011 when the accident figures started to flatline.

An example of political posturing that is irrelevant to tackling the real road safety problems is the ambition of the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, in his Mayor’s Transport Strategy to reduce injuries from bus collisions in London to zero. In reality data from TfL show the number of collisions have been rising – up from 22,676 in 2013 to 28,035 in 2016. The number of injuries also rose to 1,231 in 2016.

What might be the reasons for these increases? Possibly more cyclists on the roads, more pedestrians who cross the road without looking, many using their phones at the time, and lots of other factors. So the response of the Mayor is to look at speed limiting technology for buses and anti-collision sensors. Will they solve the problem? Nobody knows because there is no road accident investigation branch similar to those used for rail and aviation, as the ABD has repeatedly called for.

In my view, only when Government politicians, the Mayor and TfL stop looking for quick answers to complex problems will we get some sense back into the road safety debate. In the meantime, it’s just a disgrace that nobody in power seems to be facing up to the reality that the UK is going backwards in road safety.

Roger Lawson

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Speed Humps to Slow Cyclists

There is a problem in Hyde Park where cyclists have been clocked travelling at more than 30 mph even though there is a posted speed limit of 10 mph. The paths in Hyde Park are shared by pedestrians and cyclists and the Royal Parks staff said they observed several near misses when they monitored the paths. Pedestrians need to walk across the cycle path at some point but cyclists do not slow down and frequently verbally harass pedestrians who get in their way.

So the Royal Parks plan to install rows of granite setts as “rumble strips” to slow cyclists at a cost of £215,000. Needless to say the always vociferous cycling lobby are objecting with the London Cycling Campaign calling the plan “outrageous”.

It is surely regrettable that this is another example of cyclists ignoring regulations and taking the attitude that everyone else should get out of their way.

Roger Lawson

Publicity for Traffic Management Proposals

The ABD has set up a petition on the government website demanding that traffic authorities should be required to give greater publicity to proposed traffic management measures, such as reduced speed limits, traffic calming schemes, waiting restrictions etc, so that all road users, including drivers who use the roads but don’t live in the area, are made aware of them and have the opportunity to object.  The petition is now live and is at:

https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/186407

Please consider signing the petition and passing the details on to others who may wish to do so.

Roger Lawson

Richard Branson Survives Speed Hump Collision

Well known entrepreneur Richard Branson has had a bad accident caused by a speed hump. When cycling in the British Virgin Islands he hit a speed hump and suffered a cracked cheek, torn ligaments and extensive bruising. He claims only his cycle helmet saved him from death.

He said: “I was heading down a hill towards Leverick Bay when it suddenly got really dark and I managed to hit a sleeping policeman hump in the road head on. The next thing I knew, I was being hurled over the handlebars and my life was literally flashing before my eyes. I really thought I was going to die. I went flying head-first towards the concrete road, but fortunately my shoulder and cheek took the brunt of the impact.”

This writer has of course campaigned against speed humps over many years and this is not the first example of the danger speed humps cause to cyclists. There was a very similar case in the London Borough of Bromley in 2005 which is documented here (fast cyclist on a hill in poor light conditions): http://www.freedomfordrivers.org/speed-humps-old-hill.htm (and there is lots more information on the dangers of speed humps on that web site).

With the negligible road safety benefits of speed humps, simply in the interests of improving safety for cyclists would it not be a good idea to remove them all?

Roger Lawson

Speed Humps and Air Pollution

Air pollution from motor vehicles, particularly in major conurbations such as London, has been a hot topic of late. The impact may be exaggerated but it has certainly become a matter of public concern with the increase in diesel vehicles allegedly making it worse.

It has been known for many years that speed humps actually result in more air pollution. For example this writer published an article back in 2002 which said the following: “Pollution Caused by Traffic Calming. As a contribution to the local debate on the merits of speed bumps, it is worth covering a report produced by the  TRL (Transport Research Lab.) last year. In the past, different studies in different countries seemed to produce very diverse results, but the latest methodology seems more likely to have produced accurate figures. TRL Report No. 482 studies the effect of a number of different traffic calming measures, including road humps, cushions, pinch points and mini-roundabouts. They also studied the impact on traffic flows and delays experienced by fire engines. To quote from the report “The results of the study clearly indicate that traffic calming measures increase the emissions of some pollutants from passenger cars. For petrol non-catalyst, petrol catalyst and diesel cars, mean emissions of CO per vehicle-km increased by 34%, 59% and 39% respectively. For all three vehicle categories the increase in mean HC emissions was close to 50%. Emissions of NOX from petrol vehicles increased only slightly, but such emissions from diesel vehicles increased by around 30%. Emissions of CO2 from each of the three vehicle categories increased by between 20% and 26%. Emissions of particulate matter from the diesel vehicles increased by 30%.

The advocates of speed humps ignored this negative evidence in their commitment to road safety even though their impact on accidents is very marginal and may be a mirage.

As confirmation for the above a recent study from Imperial College, London also found high levels of pollution from road humps – indeed higher than from other forms of traffic calming (see the Daily Telegraph on the 11/6/2016 for a fuller report on this and some quotes from me).

For example they got 47% more particulates and 64% more NO2 from a petrol car when driven over humps, and even higher figures for diesel cars.

As I pointed out in my comments to the Daily Telegraph, accidents to school children are not particularly frequent outside schools so putting humps there is unnecessary. But the health impact on children of air pollution may be particularly severe. There are numerous reasons why the use of speed humps should be banned and this is yet another – see this page for lots more information written by the author on this topic some years ago (and the facts have not changed since): http://www.bromleytransport.org.uk/Humps.htm

Roger Lawson