Friday, July 10, 2015

Making walking and cycling safer

The European Transport Safety Council has recently released an interesting report called Making Walking and Cycling of Europe's Roads Safer. It makes for interesting reading. The variation in safety is significant across Europe with countries like Romania and Latvia having average annual pedestrian deaths over 7 times those of the best performers like the Netherlands, Norway and Sweden.

There are some strange statistics. Such as the gender of pedestrians killed on the roads. Why is there a greater proportion of men than women pedestrians killed in the UK, while Switzerland has roughly even number of male and female pedestrians killed over the last three years.

The breakdown in cyclist deaths by age category is interesting. Generally older people appear to be more at risk than younger people. Since the statistics are based on deaths per population the figures are skewed to show poor performance in countries with large numbers of people cycling (like the Netherlands).

What is interesting is the discussion on what is needed to make roads in Europe safer for pedestrians and cyclists. The interventions are obvious:

  • improve urban road design characteristics to be safer for cycling and walking - it will also help address congestion
  • reduce traffic speeds to 30km/h on residential roads and those in business districts
  • change the design of cars and trucks to reduce the risk if pedestrians and cyclists are hit by a car 
  • Change truck design to improve visibility of cyclists
  • have automatic/passive measures to reduce the risk of driver inattention 
  • behavioural changes for cyclists and pedestrians to reduce risk

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