Examination of Witnesses (Questions 300-319)|
WEDNESDAY 13 FEBRUARY 2002
300. That is not the point of the question,
the question is whether energy ought to be put into addressing
the behaviour of pedestrians not because it is wrong because they
are putting themselves in danger and education in that respect?
(Dr Davis) There are education programmes designed
to get pedestrians to adhere to road traffic regulations, perhaps
there could be more done in that way, but it does not detract
from the point I was trying to make that really we have to control
the speed of vehicles because pedestrians should not have to bear
the brunt even if they do make relatively minor misjudgments in
their own calculations which could ultimately result in the loss
of life because vehicle speeds are too high. I am not undervaluing
the role of education but I do think it is the balance we have
at the moment that is incorrect.
301. Do you think concentration on pedestrian
education could also produce a significant fall in casualties?
(Dr Davis) Some more. Historically we have continued
to have education programmes which aim at pedestrians as well
as other road users but what we have not really had is very strong
focus on tackling speed and driving speed down, bringing lower
speeds down so that really the chance of the pedestrian being
so severely injured is reduced.
302. On this pedestrian issue, you may have
heard earlier witnesses respond to questions about no accepted
measures to identify risks associated with pedestrians, this is
not a widely acceptable measure, what is your reaction to that
in the context of the questions and answers that you have just
been talking about?
(Ms Mitchell) I would like to respond to that. First
of all it would useful to refer back to Don's starting point,
we have to look at a wide spectrum of policies, what we want to
do with the transport system, what we want to do with the health
of people moving about as well as the casualty reduction issue.
I am all in favour of abandoning predict and provide when it comes
to road traffic but definitely applying it when it comes to pedestrians
and cyclists, so I think we can say by how much do we want to
increase pedestrian traffic along any given area, what kind of
expected increase there might be after introducing schemes to
attract pedestrians and what are the levels of flow of traffic
and what is the speed of traffic and then we have some measure
of the danger to which pedestrians might be exposed. The Dutch
already use this with reference to cycling in terms of the width
of the road, flow of traffic and the speed of traffic, so they
can use that kind of combination to decide about intervention
levels and types of intervention.
303. The philosophy of your organisation is
to have danger reduction in the current situation. We have a situation
in York where this has been applied, what lessons have we learned
from the introduction of this scheme in York?
(Mr Mathew) We have learned that it is successful.
First of all I must commend this Committee on the acceptance of
the road danger reduction approach and the report on walking in
towns and cities, this Committee and it members were persuaded
then. In York, as I understand, they have hit their government
targets for slight casualty reduction and for KSIs well ahead
(Mr Mathew) Killed and seriously injured. They have
a safe city and a vibrant and economically attractive one.
305. Is that based on cost-effectiveness or
quality of life?
(Mr Mathew) The economic vitality. I would have to
refer you to the general feel and ambience of the City, I am sure
there are some statistics. I was about to say that York is one
of those also who pioneered safe routes to school and there we
have started to see a distinct change in shift, we have started
to see casualties go down and I invite Paige Mitchell to make
some comparisons with Hull, because with the same mixture of safe
routes to school, lower speeds, cycle pedestrian priority is starting
to bring about enormous community gains.
(Ms Mitchell) The average rate of return is about
500 per cent, if you scan through the local transport plans on
the internet you will see that the lowest is about 200 per cent.
Hull has had returns of up to 1,000 per cent and that does work
by involving other money, so the return is on the investment made
by the local authority. Schemes are incredibly popular and that
is why Hull has introduced them for longer than anyone else, and
they are 20 per cent traffic calmed. Going back to the point about
pedestrians and casualty reduction, on those schemes of high returns
they are getting something like 95 per cent reduction in pedestrian
casualties. The rates of return on this type of investment are
incredibly high and it is accepted widely that they are too high,
why should we ask safety schemes to have such huge rates of return
when other areas of investment by Government are looking at three
per cent to nine per cent.
306. Are you aware of the schemes in Sweden
and the Netherlands where they have a total reduction of speed,
if we had to apply that in the United Kingdom what would the cost
(Mr Mathew) While Paige thinks about the details of
that I will simply answer on the principles, it is a question
of the revision of the Ten Year Plan, what your principles are
and what your priorities are? What the major thrusts are? Can
you afford not to do this kind of progressive and enlightened
measure? The cost, as Paige just said, is incredibly cost-effective.
Speaking from memory, the cost to British society of road crashes
in all their forms is equal to the proposed spending every year
of the Ten Year Plan, the costs are enormous and as you see at
a local level the benefits are enormous. I am not certain if anyone
has worked out the national cost.
Chairman: I think the best thing would be to
give us a note on the cost, that would be quite helpful.
307. You are in favour of 20 mph limit on most
urban roads, which sort of urban roads would you not have a 20
mph limit on?
(Mr Mathew) We think extensive trials are needed.
Secondly, the Committee are aware that the Department has recently
let a contract for four or six major urban roads with a mixture
of traffic flow. There are certainly trunk roads, I think, again
in York, where they are thinking of 20 mph.
308. Which urban roads do you think there should
not be a 20 mph limit on?
(Mr Mathew) Ones on the edge of town probably serving
industry without a great amount of residential housing or schools
and contain a large amount of commercial traffic.
309. You do not appreciate enforcement difficulties
as motorists move from one zone to an urban area?
(Mr Mathew) It is all to do with what has been discussed
this morning, the message that the road has given, if the message
for the other roads is much more that this is a road for people,
if it is a road slightly more on the edge of town and for industry,
less people on the road, also carrying heavy flows and occasionally
long distance strategic flows we support that.
310. Presumably most traffic within a city is
only at 20 mph, do you anticipate more congestion and slower moving
(Mr Mathew) It is partly to do with the re-allocation
of road space in the Transport White Paper and slower moving traffic
can actually also move slightly more reliably than totally congested
311. Would you get more congestion at 20 mph.
(Mr Mathew) Not necessarily
312. Why not?
(Mr Mathew) For the same reason that you do not get
more congestion with the 50 mph limit on the M25, because it is
the reliability, it is also the urban traffic control system,
it is the whole question of what the road is used for.
313. You would accept in an area like London
where traffic barely moves at 15 mph you can feel in danger because
frustrated motorists when they get a chance to move any faster
do so very quickly.
(Mr Mathew) It depends entirely on what the traffic
314. Okay. Can I press you on the performance
of the Ten Year Plan, you think the Ten Year Plan should fund
the backlog of traffic calming measures, how much do you think
that is going to cost?
(Ms Mitchell) An estimate was made for the Department
of the Environment, Transport and the Regions by the TRL in 1997
in Road Safety Strategy: Current Problems and Solutions
which estimated that to reduce casualties by 50,000 and introduce
traffic calming to its maximum potential area-wide safety management
schemes would cost £3 billion. At the current level of expenditure
that would take 40 years to implement, so it is not a big bill.
315. Do you consider there will ever be a scenario
where you will recommend, simply because it is rational and simply
because it is defensible on safety grounds, raising speed limits?
(Dr Davis) There is no evidence to suggest in general
a policy to raise speed limits. All of the evidence from across
the world and all of the reviews suggest speed limits should go
no higher. There is strong evidence, in certain cases, speed limits
should be reduced.
316. Even if there was an area where there was
no safety problem, it was a clear road, there was no indication
that accidents would occur in that area and motorists were prohibited
to 40 mph you could not see a reason why it could not be 50 mph,
could you not say a recommendation to raise the speed limit would
not be appropriate?
(Dr Davis) There may be individual cases but I am
referring to the general policy. If we are looking to raise speed
limits it does not help us in terms of reducing casualties. We
should be looking to try and lower speed limits in many cases
rather than raise them.
Dr Pugh: But there are exceptions?
317. Would it not be a pretty good idea to say
to the motorist you can do 80 mph legally on the motorways and
20 mph in urban areas?
(Mr Mathew) It would not. First of all, we are forgetting
about the emissions of CO2 at a higher speed. If you travel at
speed and you come down to 30 mph you still feel you feel like
it is 50 mph and you should be doing 30. The raising of the speed
boundaries, I, think would be disastrous.
(Ms Mitchell) This is why we advocate the early introduction
for local authorities to trial the speed assessment framework.
This was applied by Plowden & Hillman in this country and
we take a strong lead from the work they did, and in every single
case I know where they have attempted to apply an assessment framework
which factors-in all of the impacts you want to use, including
the time penalties that might be entailed by lower speeds, a vehicle's
operating costs, casualty reductions, emissions of CO2, noise,
everything you need to consider for lower speeds, it comes out
by being cost-effective. We are not only talking about casualties,
we are talking about the fuel costs to companies, the cost to
the environment and the cost to the wider community. Lower speeds
always justify themselves. The only possible penalty is the time
penalty, and that is more than paid for. I just heard an interesting
case about a delivery company which found they were making savings
in insurance costs, crash costs and fuel, which made up for any
time penalty they suffered by imposing a strict observance of
speed limits on their drivers.
318. What lessons can we use from the 20 mph
limits in Holland and what have we learned so far in this country?
(Ms Mitchell) I have just been to the Netherlands
to look at their speed management, It is a very mixed experience,
actually, because I think they would not function if they did
not have such widespread speed management, because it allows an
enormous amount of cycling and walking. I just think the country
would grind to a halt without all those people on bicycles, because
there simply would not be room for cars. I think that the information
now from the Atkins Study of Best Practice in Europe for CfIT
is just completely incontrovertible, we need to allow people to
mix equitably on our roads. If we want an equitable mix of road
users we have to make it safe for everyone to have access to road
space, that is what the Dutch have done. Admittedly, they have
a very comprehensive cycle network which allows you to undertake
cycling as a serious mode of transport with no problem. Everywhere
you go there are humps at accesses to residential areas, there
are humps through residential areas and these have been there
for 30 years. They have accepted the idea that speeds must be
319. Are Dutch roads safer than ours?
(Ms Mitchell) They are much safer than ours for pedestrians
and cyclists, they have the lowest pedestrian and cycle casualty
rates in Europe.
1 DETR, October 1997. Back