Safer Speeds – The Real Data

I have commented before on how Transport for London (TfL) have failed to justify their “Safer Speeds” proposals which includes imposing 20 mph speed limits on many roads. We have previously pointed out how TfL have been misinterpreting police accident data to support their claims that the measures are justified.

For example, they issued a Tweet that said “speed accounts for 37% of all death and serious injuries” in road accidents in London. That figure is simply wrong. The claim was allegedly based on the STATS19 data reported by the police (a form they fill out about every accident involving injuries).  That form allows for multiple factors to be recorded and after submitting a Freedom of Information Act request we learned that they counted all the accidents where factors 306, 307 and 602 were noted.

But factor 602 is described as “Driver/rider either behaved in a negligent or thoughtless manner or was in a hurry….”. Clearly the key word in that sentence is the second “or” when TfL have interpreted it to mean “and”.  There is no basis for claiming that all accidents where factor 602 is attached were rated by the police as ones where a driver was in a hurry. They might have simply been careless. Only where the other factors 306 or 307 were also noted could there be any claim that speed was a factor in the accident.

We now have the complete accident data and the data makes it plain that exceeding the speed limit (factor 306) is a very minor factor in KSIs (Killed and Serious Injuries) in London. It’s actually recorded as a contributory factor in only 5.9% of such accidents in the last five years. That’s actually less than the figure of 7.1% reported by the Department for Transport for the national figures in 2018 – see table below. Clearly tougher enforcement of speed limits is therefore unlikely to have much impact on the overall numbers. That of course is particularly so in London where average traffic speed is typically well below the speed limit.

Contributory Factors and Speed - ras50008

The largest contributory factor by far is “Failed to Look Properly” which accounted for 42% of KSIs in London or 35% nationally. But there are several other factors with higher ratings than “Exceeding the Speed Limit” such as “Poor Turn or Manoeuvre”, “Failed to Judge Other Persons Path…”, “Loss of Control” and “Careless, Reckless or in a Hurry”.

Even if you bundle factors 306 and 307 together only 12% of KSI incidents are included nationally so reducing speed limits is going to have only a small contribution at best to reducing such accidents. It’s reducing the other factors that is the key to substantially reducing road casualties. More driver education, improved roads and research into saccadic masking may be productive.

Note also that a lot of the reported factor 306 and 307 claims of excessive speed and speed above the speed limit might well involve illegal use of vehicles such as stolen vehicles so reducing speed limits will have negligible impact in reality.

There is simply no cost/benefit justification for the Safer Speeds proposals as pointed out in our previous article and TfL have clearly been abusing the data so as to make spurious claims.

Roger Lawson

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Hayes Neighbourhood Scheme and Carbon Emissions in Bromley

Last week (29/1/2020) I attended a meeting of the Environment Policy Development and Scrutiny Committee of the Bromley Council. There were a couple of items worth mentioning:

A Local Neighbourhood Improvement scheme for Hayes Village was discussed and there were a large number of questions from members of the public (in fact more than could be fitted in). This scheme originally included a wide-area 20 mph zone but has been revised to reduce that to a smaller area.

In response to a question, Portfolio Holder Councillor Huntington-Thresher said that it was not a downgraded scheme but simply the best that could be provided for the money available. The proposal will have strong self-enforcing measures and a consultation will be conducted with local residents who can also engage with their local councillors. He also said it was the most cost-effective scheme but the junction at Ridgway will be reviewed. Councillors on the Committee supported the revised proposals.

Comment: Bromley Council as usual have made a wise decision not to waste money on a wide-area signed-only 20 mph which we know has no road safety benefit based on Government commissioned research. This is unlike neighbouring Lewisham Council who have 20-mph limits everywhere and speed humps also. We now have a web site covering our latest campaign against road closures in Lewisham which is yet another anti-car measure they are imposing – see:  https://www.freedomfordrivers.org/lewisham.htm

Another item discussed at the Bromley Committee was their adopted strategy to implement net zero carbon by 2029. The Council’s budget for this item is £134,000 but there was criticism from a member of the public that only Scope 1 and 2 emissions were covered, not Scope 3. The former only cover direct emissions whereas Scope 3 covers indirect emissions such as those made by suppliers or of staff travel to work both of which the council may have little control over. Even if Scope 3 was included it seems the impact on emissions in Bromley would be negligible.

In effect the Council is apparently being attacked on that item and the Hayes Village scheme by a combination of left-wing political activists and environmental campaigners. They surely do not represent the vast majority of the residents of the borough of Bromley.

Roger Lawson

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E-Scooters May Be Permitted on Roads

E-ScooterBoth the Times and Daily Mail have run stories that the Government may permit electric scooters to be used on both roads and cycle paths. At present they are illegal except on private land. E-scooters can travel at up to 30 mph although there is a suggestion that they might be legally limited to 15 mph. The Government is intending to undertake a public consultation on the subject in the near future.

Comment: There certainly needs to be some regulations put in place about their use and to clarify the law. At present the fact that they are currently illegal to use on roads or pavements is widely ignored in London. There has already been one death to an E-Scooter rider in London (Emily Hartridge last year), and in those countries/cities where they have proliferated there are numerous injury accidents – for example there were 1,500 injuries involving them in the USA in 2018 and there have been several deaths in Paris.

As a frequent pedestrian in London this writer is already concerned about the number of cyclists who ride on the pavement. They can come up on you from behind silently and at speed and who wants to be hit by anyone or anything travelling at 15 mph or faster without warning? The elderly are particularly vulnerable as they can have bones broken or other injuries from which they cannot easily recover. This is a frequent complaint from pedestrians in central London who attend consultative meetings.

Mixing e-scooters with traffic might be dangerous as many riders do not wear crash helmets. But perhaps it’s no more dangerous than cyclists? However it surely would be a good idea to require licensing and insurance of all electrically assisted vehicles – both e-scooters and e-cycles. This would at least help to ensure reasonable standards of behaviour from such vehicle users.

Mixing e-scooters with pedestrians on pavements where the speed differential is so large is surely dangerous unless they were limited to 7 or 8 mph, but allowing them in cycle lanes should be acceptable even if cyclists may not be too keen on the idea.

There is also a question of whether e-scooters meet a need that is not currently satisfied. Users of e-scooters often use them for commuting quite long distances (many can do 20-mile trips or even longer before expiring). They can be cheaper than cycles, certainly than e-bikes, and are obviously easier to store as they take up much less space. So they do provide a very low cost option as an alternative to cycles or using public transport.

One aspect to bear in mind is that where they are permitted there are rental companies set up who offer a pick-up and drop-off anywhere service. This has meant that they get abandoned all over the place and have become somewhat of a public nuisance. This area would certainly need specific regulation.

What do readers think? You will be able to give your views to the public consultation no doubt but post your comments below if you have any.

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TfL Misleads on Safer Speeds

I have commented before on how Transport for London (TfL) have failed to justify their “Safer Speeds” proposals which includes imposing 20 mph speed limits on many roads – see https://tinyurl.com/rlz4pa5. But we have now discovered that TfL have been misinterpreting police accident data to support their claims that the measures are justified.

For example, they issued a Tweet that said “speed accounts for 37% of all death and serious injuries” in road accidents in London. That was apparently based on the STATS19 data reported by the police (a form they fill out about every accident involving injuries).  That form allows for multiple factors to be recorded and after submitting a Freedom of Information Act request we learn that they counted all the accidents where factors 306, 307 and 602 were noted.

But factor 602 is described as “Driver/rider either behaved in a negligent or thoughtless manner or was in a hurry….”. Clearly the key word in that sentence is the second “or” when TfL have interpreted it to mean “and”.  There is no basis for claiming that all accidents where factor 602 is attached were rated by the police as ones where a driver was in a hurry. They might have simply been careless. Only where the other factors 306 or 307 were also noted could there be any claim that speed was a factor in the accident.

We now have the complete accident data to enable us to work out what the correct figure is, but it is likely to be very much lower. We will advise in due course as it will take some time to analyse the data.

Note also that a lot of the reported factor 306 and 307 claims of excessive speed and speed above the speed limit might well involve illegal use of vehicles such as stolen vehicles so reducing speed limits will have negligible impact in reality.

There is simply no cost/benefit justification for the Safer Speeds proposals as pointed out in our previous article and TfL have now been found to have been fiddling the figures to make spurious claims.

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The Population Growth Problem and Trump at Davos

7.7 Billion and Growing. That was the subtitle of a BBC TV Horizon programme last night on population. Chris Packham was the presenter. He said the world’s population was 5 million 10,000 years ago but by 2050 it is forecast to be 10 billion. He showed the impact of excessive population on biodiversity and on rubbish generation with lots of other negative impacts on the environment. It is surely one of the most important things to think about at present, and will have major economic impacts if not tackled.

The big growth is coming in countries such as Brazil and Nigeria. Sao Paolo is now 5 times the size of London and it’s running out of water. So are many other major cities including London. The growth in population is being driven by better healthcare, people living longer but mainly via procreation. A stable population requires 2.1 babies per family, but it is currently 2.4. In Nigeria it’s 5!

In some countries it is lower than that. It’s 1.7 in the UK (but population is growing from immigration) and it’s 1.4 in Japan where an ageing population is creating social and economic problems.

The FT ran an editorial on the 14th of January suggesting population in Europe needed to be boosted but it received a good rebuke in a letter published today from Lord Hodgson. He said “Global warming comes about as a result of human activity, and the more humans the more activity.  This is before counting the additional costs of the destruction of the natural world and the depletion of the world’s resources. In these circumstances suggesting there is a need for more people seems irresponsible”.

I completely agree with Lord Hodgson and the concerns of Chris Packham. The latter is a patron of a campaigning charity to restrain the growth in population called Population Matters (see  https://populationmatters.org/ ). Making a donation or becoming a member might assist.

For a slightly different view in Davos President Trump made a speech decrying the alarmist climate views and saying “This is a time for optimism, to reject the perennial prophets of doom and their predictions of the apocalypse”. He was followed by a 17-year old with limited education who said just that and got more coverage in some of the media. I believe Trump and moderate environmental writers like Matt Ridley who suggest we can handle rises in world temperature and that the future is still rosy. But we surely do need to tackle the problem of a growing world population.

Too much population has a direct impact on air pollution and traffic congestion in London and the rest of the UK. More people means more vehicles – not just cars and buses but for delivery of goods.

Chris Packham reported how population reduction was done somewhat too aggressively in India and China but there are other ways to do it via education and financial incentives. Just ensuring enough economic growth in poorer countries will reduce population growth to the minimum. Let’s get on with it!

Roger Lawson

(Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London  ).

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Lewisham Closing Roads for “Healthy Neighbourhoods”

The London Borough of Lewisham is proposing to close roads in a number of areas as part of a programme to reduce traffic and promote “healthy neighbourhoods”. There has been minimal public consultation on these proposals which would cause enormous inconvenience to local residents, visitors and delivery drivers apart from causing congestion on other roads.

The first area they plan to cover is Lewisham and Lee Green where road closures will be installed on a “trial” basis soon but other areas they propose to cover are East Sydenham, Telegraph Hill and Bellingham. See https://tinyurl.com/yy9t92gn for more background information. Such schemes are of course a part of the Mayor of London’s Transport Strategy to get us all walking, cycling and using public transport and prejudicing those who wish to use motor vehicles of any kinds. We are likely to see similar proposals from other London boroughs – at least those of a similar complexion to Lewisham who are very much against all road vehicles.

More details of the proposals for Lewisham and Lee Green are present here: https://streetbuilder.io/lewishamandleegreen/site/proposals . Note the proposals to close Manor Lane, Manor Park and Upwood Road which would be particularly inconvenient. The latter would also affect residents who live in the Borough of Greenwich who have not been consulted.

Residents of these boroughs who are likely to be affected by these proposals should certainly contact their local councillors and there is a “public drop-in event” on the 6th February, 1-8pm, Good Sheppard Church Hall, Handen Road, SE12 8NR where you can tell council officers what you think about the plans. There are also email addresses you can send in objections to in the first link given above and there is a meeting in Lee Green on the 11th February – see details here:

http://councilmeetings.lewisham.gov.uk/mgMeetingAttendance.aspx?ID=5740

The ABD will be making objections to these plans but local residents need to do so also!

Roger Lawson

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Drivers_London

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Building on Station Car Parks

One of the items I overlooked when discussing the TfL Business Plan in a previous blog post was the proposal to build on car parks owned by TfL. There is obviously a high demand for more housing in London and TfL control a significant amount of land so it is not unreasonable to look at whether some of it could be used for housing. However building on station car parks would remove a very useful facility and cause great problems for many people who use them as part of a commuting strategy. To quote from TfL’s Business Plan:

“Working with Grainger plc, we have launched Connected Living London, a ground-breaking new partnership. Together, we are delivering one of the UK’s biggest Build to Rent programmes, with 3,000 homes being built across seven sites. Arnos Grove, which will be one of the first sites we submit to the Local Planning Authority, will see us transform a car park into around 150 good-quality rental homes – 40 per cent of which will be affordable. Not only will we provide the homes London desperately needs, but by developing on car parks, like Arnos Grove and Cockfosters, we will be promoting active and sustainable travel in line with the Mayor’s Transport Strategy”.

In respect of the Cockfosters proposals, there is a consultation you can give your views to here: https://www.givemyview.com/cockfosters/ , or for Arnos Grove here: https://www.givemyview.com/arnosgrove/ . The questions are biased in that there is no option to respond “do nothing” but you can still make your views clear.

People affected by these proposals could also object to the Planning Applications once they are made. See Enfield and Barnet council planning systems.

There are also petitions on Change.org against the Cockfosters proposal – see https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-stop-cockfosters-station-car-park-development-to-keep-crucial-facilities-in-our-area and here for Arnos Grove: https://www.change.org/p/sadiq-khan-let-s-stop-tfls-proposed-development-of-the-car-parks-at-arnos-grove-station

Roger Lawson

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