Road Safety News

EU must boost safety for cyclists and walkers: ETSC

Thursday 4th June 2015

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) is calling for EU member states to implement 30 km/h zones in residential areas, on the back of a report which shows that 7,600 people died in road traffic while cycling or walking in the EU in 2013.

The ETSC, authors of the new report, say unprotected road users need ‘special attention’ because the numbers being killed are falling more slowly than those for vehicle occupants. It says in the last 10 years, deaths among pedestrians and cyclists fell by 41% and 37% respectively, while vehicle occupant deaths fell by 53%.

Since 2010 the reduction in the number of pedestrian and cyclist deaths has slowed down markedly with numbers falling by only about 10% and 3% respectively between 2010 and 2013.

ETSC says the risk of being killed in traffic as a pedestrian differs greatly among European countries. It is lowest in The Netherlands and Scandinavia, but about six times greater in Latvia, Lithuania, Poland and Romania. Latvia and Lithuania are responding to this challenge by achieving two of the fastest reductions in risk.

The authors cite evidence of ‘safety in numbers’, showing that increases in cycling and walking can reduce the levels of risk to walkers and cyclists as motor traffic becomes more used to sharing the road, and could improve overall road safety if car travel were replaced by walking and cycling.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC, said: “Despite the health and environmental benefits, people who cycle and walk are not getting a fair share of improvements in road safety in Europe.

“This year, the EU has a very powerful weapon at its disposal, namely the review of safety requirements for new vehicles – it should not shy away from mandating the changes that can save the most lives.”

ETSC says the EU should upgrade the pedestrian protection tests that form part of the ‘type approval’ process that all new vehicles sold on the EU market must undergo, and the tests should also take into account the need to better protect cyclists when they are hit by a car.

In addition, ETSC is calling for new vehicles to be fitted with an overridable system for helping drivers stick to speed limits, known as Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA); and for mandatory safety requirements for heavy goods vehicles to improve drivers’ visibility.

At the national level, the report recommends encouraging local authorities to introduce 30km/h zones in residential areas and areas used by many pedestrians and cyclists. ETSC says this is already happening in a number of countries.


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What's the 'one lamp post rule' Bob?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Nick, what your comments are all about about is consideration towards other road users. Some examples would be giving way in a narrow street to allow another vehicle coming in the opposite direction a priority at an obstruction. Or a car slowing to allow you out of a road junction.

A lot of consideration cannot be given to other road users because many drivers drive too close to one another and like sheep they just follow on nose to tail so to speak. They appear to have a fixation on the vehicle in front and therefore have a disregard to anything else that is occurring ahead of them. They lack forward and peripheral vision and so if confronted with something, they cannot hope to respond in time. Sufficient safer space can easily be established as a driving norm, i.e the one lamp post rule. In urban conditions I believe that those drivers who already exercise this riding or driving habit are safer drivers.

With greater space comes greater awareness which can lead to a better understanding of the oncoming road conditions and improved attitude towards other road users, including cyclists and pedestrians.
Bob Craven lancs. .... Space is safe Campaigner.

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Am I the only one who thought Idris's remark to Rod, just a bit too personal and uncalled for?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Shame that a "discussion" about such an important and life threatening situation can result in petty point scoring comments which go in no way to further the cause of finding solutions to the problem that concerns us here. I have commented before about collaboration not confrontation and would hope eventually for a movement towards that. It is possible to have differing points of view and be able to maintain respect for the holder of those views - even if you are convinced you are right!

I prefer to phrase it in less emotive terms than guilt and blame etc. If ALL road users left their homes with an attitude of "I'm going to do all I can to avoid either being hit by, or hitting, someone else" then more of us would likely reach our destinations unhurt. Is part of the problem caused by the separation created between road users by some of them being inside their own space insulated from others by the glass and metal cage? Shared space works when two different users arrange between themselves not to occupy the same bit of space at the same time. Consider when entering a shop on foot at a busy time - usually someone will allow themselves to be "delayed" by holding a door open and allowing others to leave or enter the shop before themselves. Usually this will be acknowledged by a sign of appreciation by the other party. The closeness and lack of physical barrier between the parties helps to enable the situation to progress amicably (unless you recall the opening days of Harrods sales!). When two cars approach a shared space I think the drivers may feel able to assert their "right" to occupy the space over the other party as they do not feel the personal involvement as they are "cocooned" inside their car so feel less requirement to let the other person through first whether the other party is a pedestrian cyclist or other vehicle? Similarly pedestrians can find themselves inside a virtual cocoon as they think about various things when walking around the highway network and so do not give all potential hazards enough respect when moving around. The onus is on all of us to avoid collisions and to accept responsibility for our own actions and not to rely on others to avoid us.
Nick, Lancashire

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Goodness Idris, I didn't realise you were such an advocate of the "free movement of labour"!

I am not sure if its the language, but in other countries there is a better understanding of the difference between "liability" and "guilt". The "innocent until proven guilty" principle is not compromised by any "presumed liability", being merely a recognition of the differing responsibilities for using potentially life threatening machines in public spaces.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Rod - if Germany and Austria are much better places to be, why come back?
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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Hugh - I see that you like the idea of "Guilty unless proven innocent". I prefer the opposite and I am sure that most others do too.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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We, or should I say local authorities, have to be extremely careful when it comes to deciding what should be shared space or Woonerf. In the right place and under the right circumstances I believe that they work and can work well. However in the wrong place such as the middle of a busy roundabout they are a catastrophe just waiting to happen. On quiet streets, ally's and backwaters etc. then that's ok. On main roads then thats another matter.
Bob Craven Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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EU Transport & Tourism Committee recommends 30km/h limits for ALL urban streets with exceptions where segregated facilities exist for cyclists and pedestrians. That segregation includes priority for cyclists and peds over side roads. Alongside this "presumed liability" that is proportional to danger intrinsic in vehicle.

Having just come back from a holiday in Germany, Austria then you can really see a reduction in "pace" and "danger" on urban and village roads. And, of course, creating far better places to be.
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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Problem is, looking at our statistics, the casualties in these road user groups don't occur in residential areas. Commuter routes, yes...but not amongst the chimney pots.
Iain Temperton

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Shared spaces are an excellent idea Hugh we should have more of them. There is a very good video that shows how well they work and provides an ideal model for us to follow.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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Am I right in thinking that in The Netherlands - where, according to the news item, the risk is lowest - there is a 'strict liability' rule or law, where the motorist is automatically deemed responsible for a collision involving cyclists and presumably, pedestrians, unless proven to be otherwise? If so, then that would probably explain their good record. We need a change of attitude where motorists have to assume responsibility for not colliding with slower-moving, smaller and more viulnerable road users. Shared surfaces - where feasible - do seem to instill that attitude in motorists.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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