Pedestrian Pavement Deaths

John Stewart (who is a key campaigner for the Stop Heathrow’s 3rd runway campaign) became RoadPeace Chair in late 1996. He has written a thought piece.  He’s a fantastic campaigner, and now an advisor – his input is immensely valuable to RoadPeace.  Many thanks John for writing this piece.

The tragic story of the two-week old baby boy, Ciaran Leigh, killed on Easter Sunday in his pram on a pavement in the West Midlands illustrates once again that pedestrians aren’t safe even on pavements. This was Ciaran’s first – and last – walk outside.

RoadPeace has done a lot of work in publicising the issue but Ciaran Leigh’s death highlights once again the fact that that pedestrians are not safe even on what should be their own territory, pavements.

The figures are quite shocking. Research by the University of Westminister’s Active Travel Project found that between 2005 and 2018, 548 pedestrians on pavements were killed by vehicles. That is, about 40 people a year. And of that 548, just 6 were killed by cyclists.

It is time, is it not, that things were put into perspective. So many of our newspapers work themselves into a state of righteous anger at the danger cyclists on pavements – and the hate vehicles of this year, e-scooters – pose to pedestrians. Now, of course sensible rules and regulations must be brought in to cover e-scooters and pavement cyclists but let us never forget the main culprit.

Sometimes the driver has a momentarily lapse of concentration. Sometimes it is down to dangerous driving. But the result is the same: a pedestrian has been killed in the one place they thought they were safe. Appropriate penalties must be brought in to deal with the offenders.

About twenty years ago when my niece and nephew starting to walk to school by themselves, they didn’t talk about walking along streets. They spoke of ‘pavements’. They described their journey to school as talking the second pavement on the right, then the third on the left and finally the first right. I thought it rather quaint at the time. But they were talking about their territory; about their safe spaces. Tragically, during that time, over 500 people met their deaths on these ‘safe’ spaces.

You can read the RoadPeace briefing here:  https://www.roadpeace.org/2020/02/17/pedestrian-pavement-deaths/