Examination of Witnesses (Questions 260-279)|
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
260. Mr Palmer, do you have a different view?
(Mr Palmer) If I can just add to the point made earlier,
you asked about cost, in my home county of Suffolk they were one
of the first authorities to apply a blanket initiative of 30 mph
limits in villages and monitoring has taken place so far and that
has illustrated an approximate four to five mph reduction on average
as a result of that initiative, clearly higher speeds resulting
in higher drops of speed, and the yearly reduction in accidents
is running at about 20 less of those killed and seriously injured
as opposed to the situation before, which all attributes to monetary
261. You are almost saying that in some of these
villages you would have somebody going along, they come up to
the 30 mph limit, they go past it exceeding the speed limit so
you set a set of traffic lights down the road which would go to
red. Is that right?
(Mr Palmer) Not in my experience, no. The 30 mph speed
limit initiative in Suffolk has relied purely on the 30 mph signs.
262. I think in your evidence you are looking
at some mechanical way of enforcing the 30 mph limit?
(Mr Askew) That is correct.
263. Can you explain it to me, because I do
not understand it?
(Mr Askew) It is a system which is used in some places
on the continent, in Spain in particular, when they put a set
of traffic signals within a limit within what they consider to
be a reasonable distance from where the speeds should conform
to the limits they set. Those signals are linked to a speed sensor
and if vehicles are not obeying the limit the signals will go
to red and stop the traffic.
264. Why will somebody obey a traffic light
signal but not a sign to tell them what speed they should be travelling
(Mr Askew) If we knew the answer to that one I do
not think we would have a speeding problem out there.
265. Continuing with pedestrian management and
the interests of safety, what sort of schemes do you expect to
be funded from the local transport plans?
(Mr Askew) The majority of local transport plans will
be including, I would imagine, a fair number of pedestrian priority
schemes in urban centres. Schemes tend to focus on where the majority
of pedestrian movements happen, that is because that is where
you find the clusters of problems and accidents that require dealing
266. Are you suggesting that there should be
more barriers and cattle-pen crossings or are they lost in safer
city projects? Which would you favour?
(Mr Askew) It depends on the situation you are in.
Generally overall we would favour the Gloucester Safer City approach.
267. Are you saying that barriers are used as
a tool of first resort and there is not sufficient thinking given
to the overall problem?
(Mr Askew) I think that was probably true in the past,
I do not think that is the case any longer.
268. Ought we to suggest to those authorities
that by using the barriers they are demonstrating failure, they
have not given sufficient thought to other schemes?
(Mr Askew) No, there will always be situations where
that type of control is appropriate.
269. Have we too many of these pens and barriers
in our towns and cities?
(Mr Roberts-James) Possibly, I think we have. The
view that the IHT takes is that the barriers and pens, as you
described them, which offer some positive protection from traffic
to pedestrians, are not a measure of first resort and that they
are appropriate in circumstances where it has not been possible
to humanise the road environment to a satisfactory level, which
means they can be removed. There will always be situations where
it is best to give some form of positive security to pedestrians,
that should be the case. I think that in doing so that should
be seen more as a departure from normal practice rather than normal
practice. The key issue really is to balance some of the urban
design considerations against safety, and it is always a difficult
270. Is there an example where we could not
build-in to this issue of road safety development the use of pedestrian
crossings without barriers and pens?
(Mr Roberts-James) In certain circumstances they are
used where the traffic speeds and the traffic regime has been
suitably controlled to make it appropriate, but in situations
where speeds remain high or where particular manoeuvres are taking
place there will be a very sensible reason to include barriers
if other considerations, such as urban design, and such like,
are not unduly compromised. It is a balance and it really depends
on the specific circumstances. I would not want to get to a situation
where there was a presumption against these, but I think they
should remain a technique that can be employed, that they are
more a last resort than a first resort.
271. Mr Roberts-James, you suggested or indicated
in your memo that there is no accepted measure of risk associated
with pedestrians, could you just clarify that, please?
(Mr Roberts-James) Yes. What we meant there is that
because, we do not have as accurate information about the amount
of walking that takes place as we might like, and because of the
nature of walking and how we record it, although there is information
in the national travel survey, the important thing is to link
the amount of walking done to the number of accidents that take
place so that you can indicate a risk per million miles walked,
or whatever, in the same way you can with traffic. We feel that
it is difficult to do that in a way that is sufficiently robust
272. What needs to be done? It seems to me to
be a pretty serious omission from the whole spectrum?
(Mr Roberts-James) The first step I would suggest
would be to determine, through a research programme, what would
need to be done in this respect, how would you do it? How could
you do it reliably? How could you collect this data in a cost-effective
way over time? I am not sure I am able to answer that, but I do
think it is a question that needs answering so we scope out how
you could get to a situation where there is a robust indicator
of pedestrian risk.
273. In that case how do local authorities prioritise
if there is not any accepted measure of risk associated with pedestrians?
How in Heaven's name do local authorities prioritise in terms
of their resources in the different areas involved?
(Ms Broome) There are various criteria that are used,
we look at the number of pedestrians and we also look at the volume
of traffic as well. Those sorts of indicators, PV2, pedestrians
times the amount of vehicle squared is a very broad indicator
that we use to determine whether we would put pedestrian crossings
in. Over the last few years there has been a significant move
away from that mechanical approach to far more addressing the
needs and the spoken needs of local communities where they feel
they want those sort of safety issues to be applied.
274. I think we all understand that, and that
is perfectly legitimate. In the absence of this accepted measure
and in the absence of research so that priorities can be identified,
not only based on local circumstances and local need and a sort
of broad brush, arithmetical approach to this I still, again,
ask the question, how do local authorities prioritise? I think
I am getting the feeling that they do not, they cannot.
(Mr Askew) That is partially correct. Pedestrian movements
are far more fluid and flexible than traffic movements. Pedestrians
have far more freedom to alter their movements to fit the circumstances
and they do not react in the same way the traffic does. The pens
and the railings we referred to earlier were initial attemptsmisguided
attemptsto attempt to constrain pedestrians to conform
in a way that people wanted, and that is not the right way ahead,
which is why we need more research into this. I suspect at the
moment there is an awful lot of planning on the basis of where
people perceive that the majority of pedestrians movements are
or where there are the highest number of reported pedestrian problems
275. Who should do that research?
(Mr Roberts-James) The Department of Local Transport
276. This question is to the Institute of Highway
Incorporated Engineers, I jotted down what
Mr Roberts-James said about resourcing, staffing
revenue and expertise, and so on, quite unusually we are not able
to identify in either submission any reference to personnel shortages
in the transport sector, was that a deliberate omission, if my
information is correct, and what are your views about that?
(Mr Askew) I do not know if it was a deliberate omission
from ours because ours was a composite approach. We would certainly
have a view on it. We certainly support the comments made by Carlton,
there is a skills shortage and it is an acknowledged skills shortage
on the delivery. The point that Carlton made is a very key one,
which is the revenue implications of this. With the introduction
of speed cameras, the traffic calming schemes and the general
raising of public awareness in this type of work the pressures
on local authorities have risen dramatically and the pressures
on traffic engineers have risen accordingly. Traffic engineering
is probably one of the Cinderella's of the engineering profession.
Traffic engineers will normally have undertaken a course in civil
engineering as their education but that does not include many
of the people skills that are probably essential to the delivering
of traffic engineering.
277. We heard from earlier witnesses an expression
of gratitude to the government for increasing resources through
the Local Transport Plan over recent years, in your experience
are local authorities spending all of the revenue, all of the
resources that they can and are allocated for transportation,
including road safety?
(Mr Roberts-James) Our local authority members made
it quite clear through our the various technical boards that there
are obstacles to delivering the Ten Year Plan associated primarily
with a lack of revenue support to enable that capital to be spent.
That is manifest in terms of staff shortages, it is also manifest
in terms of difficulties in developing schemes to a level at which
that capital money can be spent and drawn down from government,
there are two parts to that equation.
278. What I am trying to identify is, is it
a matter, simply a matter, seriously a matter of government not
providing the resources or is it a matter of what resources are
provided are not being spent because of demands on other servicesdo
you see the point I am getting ator is it a mixture of
(Mr Roberts-James) It is probably a mixture and it
is probably affected by how authorities are prioritising their
activities to a certain extent.
279. This question is to the Institution of
Highways and Transportation, I understand you had a conference
yesterday on rural speed management?
(Mr Roberts-James) That is correct.