Examination of Witnesses (Questions 165-179)|
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
165. Welcome to the second session of the Committee's
inquiry into road traffic speed. I apologise for the absence of
Mrs Dunwoody. She is away with the Electoral Commission so I am
in the chair. Please will you identify yourselves?
(Mr Radford) My name is David Radford. I am the Road
Safety Manager for Gloucestershire County Council.
(Dr Thompson) My name is Stewart Thompson.
I am the Road Safety Service Manager for Nottingham City Council.
(Mr Shortland) I am Jon Shortland. I am the Casualty
Reduction Manager for Northamptonshire County Council.
166. Perhaps I can ask you to speak up so that
those at the back of the room can hear what you say. By way of
introduction would you like to add anything to the evidence that
you have submitted already?
(Dr Thompson) I would like to thank the Committee
for this opportunity to give evidence. After burglary, speeding
is the second biggest concern of the public in Nottingham. The
approach for dealing with that concern and the casualties that
result from speeding is to use a speed management approach that
ranges from home zones and traffic calming at one end to the latest
available digital technology at the other. That is done on a partnership
basis, involving the Highways Agency, the police and the Nottinghamshire
Magistrates' Courts Service. Education forms a part of that process.
Chairman: If no one else wants to say anything
we shall continue with the questions.
167. The Committee understands that Gloucestershire
County Council and the City Council were involved in the Gloucestershire
Safer City Project, which took place over the previous five years.
(Mr Radford) That is correct.
168. In your evidence you refer to applying
the Safer City Project to the "wider urban environment".
Can you tell the Committee what you mean by that and what results
you have had from the exercise? Can you inform the Committee what
lessons have been learned from the Safer City Project?
(Mr Radford) Yes, certainly. The Safer City Project
was an attempt to look at a city-wide approach to accident reduction.
Before the Safer City Project, in Gloucestershire accidents had
been treated where they appeared on the network in numbers sufficient
to justify expending engineering finances and implementing engineering
schemes. Gradually, as we got on top of some of the accident cluster
sites, we found that we needed a different approach. The work
by the department on urban safety management had led to a slightly
different approach to casualties. In the project there was a desire
to apply that on a city-wide scale to see whether it would be
effective. The Gloucestershire County Council and the City Council
put in a bid to take part in the project and were successful in
that bid. In 1996 they commenced the project for five years. The
objective was to look at casualties on a city-wide basis and the
strategy was one of looking at all the roads in the city and trying
to establish a hierarchy of roads. Basically, there was a three-tier
hierarchy: main roads for travelling in and out of the city; mixed-use
roads for buses, cyclists, pedestrians and local traffic; and
residential roads where the objective was to reduce speeds so
that pedestrians could enjoy greater safety. When the Safer City
Project team looked at the city plan it became apparent that a
lot of roads were being used for the wrong purpose. Any road that
happened to go to the city through a residential area was fair
game. The task was to try to establish what would be necessary
to get the three hierarchies established and to secure appropriate
speeds on appropriate roads. Possibly two main points were learned
from the project. To get the hierarchy right in the first place
was essential. That meant using the accident information, using
traffic flows and conducting quite a bit of research. The second
most important lesson was to work with the public on the programme
and on the implementation. The Safer City Project had a fairly
strong public involvement. There was a Safer City Forum as well
as a steering group that involved councillors and officers. The
forum was a public forum where people were welcome to come along.
Representatives of local industry, the bus companies, residents'
groups and disability groups could come along, make their comments
and help to develop the ideas that took the plan forward. The
results were put together in 2001 by the DTLR; they were interim
results to the end of 2000. The project is being monitored by
the Transport Research Laboratory which will gather the final
results in about July of this year. The objective that the project
set out at the beginning was to reduce casualties by a third from
the 1991 to 1995 average and to achieve that by the year 2000.
When all the results are in for 2000, the TRL will produce a detailed
report at the end of the year. However, the early indications
are that there has been a significant reduction especially in
the more serious casualties. A 38 per cent reduction in those
killed or seriously injured in the city was achieved by the end
of the year 2000 compared with the 1991 to 1995 average. That
compared with a 22 per cent fall in the rest of the county.
169. Has that been sustained?
(Mr Radford) We shall have to wait until we see the
final results. As yet they are not finalised. The implications
are that, with the infrastructure that is in place, it should
170. Can you tell the Committee what the Safer
City Project cost and what do you believe are the rates of return?
(Mr Radford) I cannot give exact figures. I was not
directly involved in the planning of the project, but the idea
was to spend £5 million of capital money over the five years,
with a contribution from the City Council and the County Council
which I understand was £2 million. What that amounted to
in the end I do not know. As for the rate of return on that, it
is still too early to say, but I expect the Transport Research
Laboratory to come back with that information.
171. What would you expect the rate of return
(Mr Radford) With the cost of a fatal accident being
over £1 million, I would expect the rate of return to be
significant. This is a bit of an estimate, but I would expect
to get probably a 100 per cent rate of return over three years.
172. I direct the next question to Nottingham.
Do you think that the physical calming measures, such as humps
and cushions, are the future of speed management? Do you subscribe
to the re-engineering of streets in other ways? Is there evidence
that such other ways are as effective?
(Dr Thompson) Yes, I think I have given evidence to
suggest how effective these schemes can be at the moment. In Nottingham
a review of 44 casualty reduction schemes, of a traffic calming
kind, have reduced casualties by 50 per cent. At the moment, traffic
calming is the only really viable option for addressing casualties
in many of the residential streets in our cities.
173. What reaction have you had from the motoring
(Dr Thompson) As you will see from the information
that has been presented with the evidence, the motoring organisations
are generally supportive of the work that we are trying to do
in terms of casualty reduction. I cannot, with any honesty, pretend
that traffic calming is popular with that entire section of the
community, but with traffic calming we have an opportunity of
halving casualties and meeting the Government's casualty-reduction
target, particularly the child fatal and serious casualties.
174. What criteria do you use when applying
the different types of engineering and road design? Do you have
best practice that can be copied by local authorities?
(Dr Thompson) Yes. Similarly to Gloucestershire, we
have taken a hierarchical approach to the network. We use the
highly sophisticated digital cameras on the roads where we have
the highest levels of casualties and where other forms of engineering
measures are not appropriate. Those types of roads would be arterial
routes into the city or the ringroad of the city, for example.
At the other end of the spectrum, we have residential areas where
maybe 30 miles per hour is not an appropriate speed and where
20 miles per hour is a much more appropriate speed. That is an
area where we have introduced traffic calming. The type of traffic
calming that we use depends on the roads that we are looking at.
If they are roads that are identified by the emergency services
as strategically important roads, we will use what is called "cushions".
Those are the square traffic calming features, as opposed to the
round-topped road humps.
175. What proportion of your calming schemes
have been objected to by the emergency services?
(Dr Thompson) The emergency services are part of our
partnership. In all cases, the police have been supportive of
the traffic calming schemes. The fire service recognises the work
that we are doing. The ambulance service will object to round-topped
road humps in all cases. They prefer the use of the square cushion,
which I mentioned earlier.
176. Why do they object to the round-topped
(Dr Thompson) They feel that the vertical deflections
experienced by the patients in transit are not beneficial to them.
177. Is it correct that all the emergency services
have been persuaded by your arguments about casualty reduction?
For instance, do the police support you?
(Dr Thompson) Yes. As I said, the police are very
much part of the casualty-reduction partnership that we operate
in the city.
178. Can you tell the Committee how successful
the home zones and safer routes to school have been? How extensively
can those be used?
(Dr Thompson) Nottingham has been successful in bidding
for the latest rounds of awards for home zones and will be introducing
one in an estate called Kennington Road. We have also introduced
one on Noble Road, another residential area within the city. Those
types of schemes are beneficial in establishing an area of environmental
and physical improvements for the residents. They are not always
associated with a casualty-reduction aim, although casualty-reduction
benefits will be attributed to them as a result of introducing
traffic calming within the design. You also mentioned safer routes
to school. Again, that fits into our overall plan of casualty
reduction. There has been a phenomenal growth in the transport
of children to school by car. If we can change that process, and
encourage more people to walk to school on safer routes, shifting
the balance will help to address the overall pattern of accidents
that occur in the city.
179. Have you managed to shift that balance
(Dr Thompson) The evidence at the moment is that we
are not managing to change that balance substantially. We are
not in a position where it is getting worse and more people are
travelling by car to school, but the evidence is that it is pretty
much the same.