Monthly Archives: December 2010

Road Danger Reduction in Bristol?

As we enter 2011 there is a strong chance of a step change in the adoption of Road Danger Reduction (RDR) policy by a local authority – and by a city, no less.
While some of the ideas of RDR have filtered through to at least parts of the mainstream – and to all those bodies with any kind of genuine concern for the well being of cyclists and pedestrians and for sustainable transport policy in general – the uptake of RDR has been patchy, to say the least. Even the 30 or so local authorities that have signed the RDR Charter have either fallen by the wayside, or else been unable to address the problems of traditional “road safety” ideology and practice, even where key Councillors and officers are sympathetic.
Hopefully this may be about to change if Bristol City Council follows up on the report Road Danger Reduction in Bristol? , a report organised by Bristol City Council Road Safety, Bristol PCT and the University of the West of England .
While there is a lot which is heartening in the report, plainly a great deal of work needs to be done to embed the positive attitudes displayed in the work of the Council. Continue reading

How are you going to cope? An RDRF Guide to Survival: Part Two – Basic Texts

You can get comforted by visions of alternative transport scenarios or just find out similar souls arguing against the status quo. But at some stage fighting against the War for the Careless and Subsidised Motorist needs some heavier theoretical ammunition.
It’s time to start reading again and back to some basic texts.
If you have been through professional or academic training as a transport professional what I suggest below will challenge some of the fundamentals you’ve been taught. But coping doesn’t mean acceptance of the status quo: it means learning what’s wrong with it. Our strategy for survival involves challenging preconceptions.
So here’s a list of suggested reading Continue reading

How are you going to cope? An RDRF Guide to Suvival: Part One – Enter the Blogosphere

The first thing to do is to make regular visits to the blogosphere. Staring at a screen, after a hard day staring at a screen, may not sound attractive – but that’s where the voices of opposition to the status quo spend much of their time.
What can you expect?


The dominant (but not only) tone of the independent cyclists/pedestrians/sustainable transport blogosphere in the UK is persistent sarcasm. Sarcasm may be the lowest form of wit, but when you consider what we often have to put up with, it is understandable. And at its best, it can be funny. Sometimes the odd chuckle from bloggers who know how to spot greenwash is just what you need.

    The local.

The radicals are good at showing how local authorities fail, often give regularly updated examples of what has been going wrong. It could be what’s needed to chase up the powers that be. On the down side, when you’ve seen a few photographs of illegally parked cars and lorries, you’ve seen them all. Also, local issues are often only important to the people who happen to live there.

    Horror stories.

Reporting of cases of motorists who have lenient sentences (or who don’t get caught) for killing or hurting others. Not exactly fun reading, but it shows that someone is taking note.

    A journey outside the mainstream.

A fair amount of time is taken up criticising the mainstream lobbying (particularly cycling) groups. Sometimes I think this is misguided – are better policies actually being presented? But it shows that some people are just not prepared to accept the inevitable compromises that lobby groups – which by definition have to be in bed with the authorities – will make. And even if compromises and failures are inevitable, at least we need people who can say that is exactly what they are.


A dominant theme among the cycling blogs is the desire for fully segregated cycle tracks. Not all, but most, push for what appears to be a transposition of (some) Dutch-style cycle tracks to the UK as the solution to cycling’s problems. Currently the Lo Fidelity Bicycle Club is hosting a Cycling Embassy of Great Britain to push this agenda – and as posted on their site, I don’t think this is the way forward.

A key element of the RDR programme involves accepting risk compensation/ behavioural adaptation: this lends itself to the critical mass for cyclists theory, and most of the RDRF backers support this. For many this will be a breaking point – but we’d like to keep the links open. I think the cycling bloggers agree more with us than disagree. Fortunately some are prepared to handle the issue delicately, and if they want to down an alley that I think will turn out to be blind, then they have to do it. Continue reading

How are you going to cope?

The car dominated transport policies of New Labour continue – with knobs on! We have the added feature that those now in charge appear to think that we had “a war on the motorist”. Similarly, “road safety” policy is still often an inversion of reality: greater danger can be presented as a “better road safety record”.

Then your job as a transport professional, funded (directly or indirectly) by Government, is under threat, as is the support for any voluntary sector backed campaigns that you may be involved with.

Tackling global warming? Making those responsible for danger on the roads accountable? Having some UK cities with a cycling modal share just somewhere remotely near that of, er, Cambridge? Accepting that the aggregated number of “Road Traffic Accidents” may not be a good measure of how safe a road is?

A civilised road safety and transport policy seems as far away as ever.

So how are you going to cope? Continue reading