Vision Zero is a multi-national road traffic safety project that aims to achieve a highway system with no fatalities or serious injuries involving road traffic. It has been adopted as a policy by many local authorities in the UK.
In London, the Mayor, Sadiq Khan, launched the Vision Zero strategy in 2018 to reduce road casualties in the capital city. But road casualty figures for 2018 show that Killed and Seriously Injured (KSIs) on London’s road actually increased by 5% to 4,065 in 2018. Vision Zero is a key part of the Mayor’s Transport Strategy along with the encouragement for modal shift with the aim of getting more people walking and cycling.
However, cyclist fatalities actually rose by 20% to 12, and cyclist serious injuries rose by 14% to 770. Cycling is one of the most dangerous ways to travel so is this encouragement to cycling misconceived?
The trend in London KSIs matches the national picture where road deaths have plateaued in recent years. See chart above from the DfT report of national road casualties in 2018.
We will no doubt see renewed calls for lower speed limits and more enforcement, but the ABD has consistently argued that the focus on simplistic solutions to road safety problems, such as traffic speed reductions, cannot and will not work to cut the horrendous toll of road casualties. The encouragement of cycling is surely an example of an unintended consequence of a policy introduced with the best of intentions to improve the health of the population. In London enormous expenditure on Cycle Superhighways and cycle lanes of other kinds has been incurred in the last few years. This was justified on improving cycle safety but in reality the impact is not apparent. The encouragement of cycling may have actually made the road casualty statistics worse. The ABD has argued that Vision Zero is a counter-productive road safety fantasy. We argue that more attention should be paid to road user education and road engineering. See our submission to Parliament’s Road Safety Transport Committee in April 2019 given below:
Evidence to Transport Committee 2019: https://abdlondon.files.wordpress.com/2019/07/evidence-to-transport-committee-2019-03-26-1.pdf
London Road Casualties 2018: http://content.tfl.gov.uk/casualties-in-greater-london-2018.pdf
National Road Casualties 2018: https://tinyurl.com/yy4ouonf
With the appointment of Andrew Gilligan as a transport advisor to our new Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who as former London Cycling Commissioner under Boris was a big contributor to the growth of cycling in the capital and what many argue is the wasted expenditure on Cycle Superhighways, will we see the same defective policies being spread across the country?