Road Danger Reduction and Local Implementation Plans

In London it’s consultation time for Local Implementation Plans and the occasion for seeing what your local authority might be saying with regard to road danger and sustainable transport. What follows is relevant for Local Transport Plans throughout the country, but I’ll be concentrating on London as I know more about it.

London Borough of Lambeth (first Highway Authority in the UK to have a Road Danger Reduction Manager) is going to be running a seminar on March 16th: “Embedding Road Danger Reduction in Local Transport Plans” at which I’ll be giving a version of this post. Places are pretty much taken up, but if you want to come – it’s invitation only – do drop me an e-mail at chairrdrf@aol.com . So: what is happening with the London LIPs?
LB Lambeth: As you would expect from a Borough which has expressed a Road Danger Reduction (RDR) agenda for some time know, RDR gets a good mention, quoting the charter:

So Lambeth is undertaking to:
• Seek a genuine reduction in danger for all road users by identifying and controlling the principal sources of threat.
• Find new measures to define the level of danger on our roads. These would more accurately monitor the use of and threat to benign modes.
• Discourage the unnecessary use of motor transport where alternative benign modes of public transport are equally or more viable.
• Pursue a transport strategy for environmentally sustainable travel based on developing efficient, integrated public transport systems. This would recognise that current levels of motor traffic should not be increased.
• Actively promote cycling and walking, which pose little threat to other road users, by taking positive and co-ordinated action to increase the safety and mobility of these benign modes
.”

City of London

This is really interesting. Under “TRANSPORT OBJECTIVES” we have “LIP 2011.3: To reduce road traffic dangers and casualties in the City,
particularly fatal and serious casualties and casualties among vulnerable road users
.”. So far, so typical, but then:

“.26 The City Corporation’s preferred approach to addressing these casualties is a road danger reduction approach, whereby road dangers are reduced at source through addressing inappropriate vehicle speeds and the volume of motor vehicles relative to other road users. (my emphasis).The City has rejected the segregation of road user groups and the constraining of vulnerable road users’ ability to follow the routes that are most convenient and comfortable for them.”

This is encouraging (particularly since City of London have never formally contacted RDRF or expressed an interest in signing the RDR Charter. We even have, under the DELIVERY PLAN: 3.C : Road Danger Reduction Programme.

So far so, impressive, but:

We have the usage of the phrase “vulnerable road users” (see objections to this at  ) rather than those dangerous to others. On top of this motorcyclists are included with the more benign modes of walking and cycling.

There is no way in which – after a good start at identifying what road danger is – we can begin to measure it, or at least get a better measure than KSI, or KSI per road user group.

This is shown by: “3.17 As the City Corporation is planning for substantial increases in the numbers of pedestrians and cyclists during this plan period, the total exposure levels of those most likely to suffer serious or fatal injuries in the event of a collision will increase. 3.18 As a result of these factors, reducing the number of road traffic casualties in the City will be at least as much of a focus for this local implementation plan as it was for the 2007 local implementation plan.” It is still possible to imply that the hoped for increase in walking and cycling is some kind of problem, as traditional “road safety” has.

A way out of this is to move towards a superior method of measuring danger, the first step of which would be KSI per journey or distance travelled. This is in fact mentioned in the LIP of:

LB Ealing

Noteworthy here is a casualty rate (casualties per trip) target for cycling:

LB Ealing Cyclist Road Casualty Target
LIP Additional (non?mandatory) target: Road casualties (cyclists)
Total casualties for cyclists
Long term target 1 casualty/440,000 trips by 2026
Short term target 1 casualty/333,000 trips by 2013/14

Of course, LIPs in London have to conform to guidance based on the Mayor’s Transport Strategy (MTS). This tends to push towards a traditional “road safety” approach – although, as is seen above, RDR can be mentioned and casualty rate targets can be proposed unde the non-mandatory targets.
The MTS also has a target for cycling modal shift (from c.2% now to 5% by 2026 in London). Most practitioners would agree that this will be difficult to achieve without some fundamental changes. After all, such a change would require the sort of increase in cycling seen with the Barclays Hire Scheme more or less every year until 2026.
How are boroughs to achieve this? Even without a step change in funding throughout London, there are issues about road space allocation (whether in terms of road space specifically for cyclists or in terms of reducing motor vehicle capacity, or both) with the Network Assurance regime.
But that’s enough for now: hopefully these comments will assist in consideration of the London LIPs.