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.
On the positive side we see in the recommendations we see:
Recommendations for a city wide Vision
1) The Council should unify its road safety work around a fully adopted RDR vision for Bristol. This vision would be one of a city in which it is safe and pleasant to move around from one place to another. This vision should be agreed by political leaders, the Council Chief Executive, and other high level officials. Having adopted the vision, the vision should be cascaded out to Neighbourhood partnerships, neighbourhood groups and to Bristol residents via the local media….

Recommendations in the area of Road Safety engineering
3) It is recommended that the Traffic Authority Approval (TAA) form that goes tothe higher tier officers should have a means of summarising the scheme’s effect in the light of Council policies of promoting walking and cycling…
4) … the Road safety engineering team should prioritise schemes according to walking and cycling promotion as well as according to casualty numbers.

Recommendations relating to Casualty statistics
5) The current project has looked at casualty statistics in a RDR influenced light, looking at:
• cycling casualty totals while taking account of numbers of people cycling
• what motor vehicles were doing at the time of a collision leading to a pedestrian casualty
• contributory factors in collisions leading to a cyclist casualty.
It is recommended that these ways of assessing statistics be continued and undertaken in a more formal capacity.

Recommendations in the area of Education, Training and Publicity
6) Road safety education of children should include developing critical awareness about the modal choices they will make in the future. The children should be encouraged to think critically about the effects that driving a car or cycling has, in terms of road danger, on their local community and society in general.

7) Discussion should take place between the ETP team and Smarter Choices team to work towards a greater harmony of the image of cycling that the two teams promote. There is a difference at the moment as the Smarter Choices team aim to promote cycling as a normal activity for normal people wearing normal clothes. In contrast, the ETP schemes sometimes show the cyclists wearing luminous clothing, cycle helmets etc.

8) The Parent walks presently conducted should place more emphasis on appealing to parents as drivers to look out more for child pedestrians and also about the seriousness of the decision to drive in the first place.

9) In general an intervention should be devised to highlight some of the antisocial and danger effects of ‘normal’ driving. The statistics chapter of this report supports the importance of such an approach.

On the negative side, while the frankness of the report indicates the problems that exist with officers in the traditional “road safety” areas of engineering and ETP, it is not clear how these difficulties are to be addressed. Referring to the Road Safety team’s activities in number 4 (above), it refers to: “ Whilst retaining its remit of reducing casualties” (my emphasis). The point is: what does the “casualty reduction” approach actually mean? Can it slot in with RDR? In one sense it should be possible to focus on existing practices that DO have what is largely an RDR effect – but ultimately what is meant by “casualty reductiion” has to be challenged.
Let’s hope this work is done.
This looks like being a landmark – what is needed now is for elected members and progresive officers to follow this through.
We are more than wiling to help – as we alreday have with extensive interviews carried out for the report – and wish Bristol the best of luck in becoming the first RDR city in the UK!