The Next Steps: “Embedding Road Danger Reduction in Local Transport Plans”

LB Lambeth hosted the seminar under this title on March 16th. Below RDRF Chair Dr. Robert Davis gives an account and his views of where this productive seminar takes the Road Danger Reduction agenda:

LB Lambeth, with the UK’s first Road Danger Reduction manager, is a flagship for RDR. This seminar attracted academics, RDR converts and colleagues we hope to convert , with London Boroughs like Ealing, Hackney, Southwark, Lewisham and Islington, as well as pedestrain and cyclist group representatives and LB Lambeth’s formidable team present.

So, first the good news:

* Norma Fender, LB Lambeth’s RDR manager, indicated the “RDR checklist” for Local Transport Plans. I’ll be giving details of this in the next post.

* As RDRF Chair I referred to the LIPs (London Borough’s Transport plans) for references to Road Danger Reduction : a number are now referring to reducing danger at source, and some have “rate-based targets” as well  as the mandatory ones.

* We had two lengthy presentations on how to get speeds down toweards 20 mph: what was good was that the two Boroughs (Islington and Lambeth) take the two opposing views on this issue – signing of wider araes as opposed to self-enforcement in smaller zones. Hopefully presenting these different views is helpful in generating ideas in how to move forward on this issue.

* LB Lambeth’s Cycling Officer, Richard Ambler, led an instructive workshop presentation getting participants to examine Lambeth’s measures to see how far they meet RDR criteria.

* Jim Mayor from Brighton and Hove described an apparent success story of shared space treatment: what works, and what doesn’t.

We were brought back to earth with a thump as RDRF President Lord Berkeley decribed the activities of the present Government – from pro-road building criteria in the appraisal system of NATA, through the abolition of Cycling England, to the road building plans – as seen from the House of Lords. And in my presentation of some London LIPs it is evident that traditional “road safety” still sees increased numbers of cyclists and pedestrians as problems.

Not that we don’t want these issues addressed. Graham Smith from Oxfod Brookes , a veteran commentator on urban design, took some of the plans for speed reduction to task with gusto. These seminars should be places where received wisdoms are fully analysed. And Labour Party members Lord Berkeley and LB Lambeth Councillor Nigel Haselden, Cabinet Portfolio holder for Regeneration and Transport, voiced their opposition to plans to reduce petrol prices with publci transport costs going up.

Similarly, Tom Calvert reported back from the attempts in Bristol to make RDR a functioning approach – with mixed results.

 So how do we move forward? LB Lambeth tried very hard with this seminar to show practitioners who are not yet committed to RDR how to move forward. But did it get us further? One practitioner was unwilling to accept an RDR view on drunk pedestrians : we don’t think they area significant type of danger to others and qualitatively less important a problem that those that are. But she did ask a good question: how does RDR actually change what transport professionals do?

 In my view we need to give clearer views as to how to do this.