Prevention not blame

No one, least of all the Mayor, should be talking about blame in relation to the recent  scandal of cyclist deaths.

Even if a cyclist contributed or even caused a collision—does anyone really think that a death penalty is justified? We hope not.

The focus should be on prevention, not blame.

This summer London launched a new road safety plan, Safe Streets for London, which was based on the safer system approach. This was a major change for TfL and welcomed by campaigners including RoadPeace.

The plan aims for “roads free from death and serious injury”. Sweden introduced Vision Zero in 1997 and whilst many other countries and cities have since adopted it, London is the first in Britain to do so.

The three key principles of Safe Streets for London are:

  1. People make mistakes
  2. There are physical limits to what the human body can tolerate
  3. All those with a role in designing, building, operating, managing and using the road network have a responsibility to improve safety.

As noted in our summary of the plan, whilst still shying away from road danger reduction and its focus on tackling danger at source’, Safe Streets for London does give greater priority to vehicle based solutions.

Going forward, there is an opportunity for the behaviours and attitudes that campaigns have traditionally sought to change to be addressed in-vehicle.

In London, unlike anywhere else in the country, the Mayor has responsibility for both the police and the transport system. So if road layouts aren’t working or laws are being broken, he needs to act, not point the finger at those who will never be able to defend themselves.

And whilst cyclist deaths are covered in the media, we cannot forget that for every cyclist killed in London, there are 9-10 other road users killed. In most years, more pedestrians are killed by lorries than cyclists. In the first decade, the ratio was twice as many pedestrian deaths as cyclist deaths from lorries in London.

Today we commemorate the World Day of Remembrance for Road Traffic Victims.  Since it was started in 1993, close to 5000 have been killed on London’s roads.  Instead of blaming those killed, we will be remembering them, and especially those families who were whole a fortnight ago.