A drivers’ group has slammed London’s Vision Zero road safety target despite the number of fatalities on the capital’s roads falling.
The Alliance of British Drivers (ABD), says although the number of deaths in London has fallen slightly, there has been a noticeable increase in the number of people seriously injured. It’s a stat that has led the organisation to describe the Vision Zero project a “counter-productive road safety fantasy”.
The ABD’s indictment comes after Transport for London (TfL), the organisation in charge of London’s road network, revealed that the number of people killed on London’s roads hit a record low in 2018, with 111 people losing their lives. However, the ABD says that’s only part of the picture, as the number of people seriously injured in the capital rose by five percent to 3,954.
When TfL announced the figures just over a week ago, the organisation said “urgent and continued action” was still necessary to bring the figures down, with a focus on the safety of vulnerable road users such as cyclists, motorcyclists and pedestrians. As a result, TfL said a range of measures, including lower speed limits and modified infrastructure for bicycles, would be “vital” to reduce the number of casualties.
But the ABD says the authorities should concentrate not on “simplistic” changes to speed limits, but on improving road user education and improving the way the roads are engineered. The organisation also singled out the encouragement of cycling as a potential reason for the increased number of injuries - a situation it described as an “unintended consequence of a policy introduced with the best of intentions”.
“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 ABD said in a press statement. “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.”
Stuart Reid, TfL’s director of the Vision Zero project, said: “Any death or serious injury on London’s roads is a tragedy and any increase will see us redouble our efforts to further reduce road danger. Simply ignoring the needs of people who want to walk, cycle and use public transport, which are vital to cleaning up our toxic air and making London more sustainable, is not an option. That’s why we are investing a record £2.3 billion to transform London’s streets to make them safer and healthier for everyone, as well as removing the most dangerous heavy goods vehicles from the capital’s roads by 2020 and continuing our extensive road safety education, engineering and enforcement programmes.”