17/12/03 & 28/1/04: Road Safety Scrutiny Panel
Camden’s Council has set up a Scrutiny Panel of eight councillors and two co-opted members to look at road safety in the borough and to examine Camden’s approach to the issue. The consultation document has two sections.
Section 1: Covers issues prioritised by the panel. The panel would like us to give arguments and experiences related to these issues. It would help if members would attempt to recall relevant experiences and suggest arguments – Camden supplies many of these
20 mph zones
Do we support extensive 20mph zones across Camden, or even the whole of London? If so what form should they take and how should they be enforced?
They also mention the GLA review of speed humps – but we have heard recently that the rumours of deaths reported by the London Ambulance Service are untrue.
Speed and red light cameras …should speed cameras should be used more widely, inconspicuously and to detect lower speeds?
Consulting on road safety issues. How could the Council improve consultation with residents and other interested parties over road humps and other traffic treatments?
Road crossings . Considering injuries to children and the aged, want to know whether they should give more time at crossings, narrow junctions or have more puffin crossings.
Narrowing of junctions generally makes things worse for cyclists. Can anyone think of any situation where narrowing would not make things worse?
Lorries in Camden. Would it be a good idea to create a lorry-free road network on residential roads in Camden other than for access?
Safety on the Transport for London (TfL) Road Network in Camden
Improvements to the Stats 19 form used by the police to record details of the circumstances, vehicles and for each person injured.
Police attitude to driver crime?
Should Camden now consider implementing safe routes to leisure facilities in Camden for children?
Is there is a need for TfL social surveys concerning fear of road traffic
Is there a need for a new measure of road safety (other than casualty numbers)?
Bus driver behaviour and related safety matters
Should speed limiters be compulsory for all motor vehicles?
Two wheeled motor vehicles (TWMVs)
What more can be done in terms of Road Safety Education?
Camden Cycling Campaign (CCC) has answered the panel’s questions in Part 2 of this document. In this part we introduce some other road safety issues that have not been mentioned by the panel. CCC believes that these additional issues are equally important for the safety of cyclists and in most cases of pedestrians as well.
CCC would like more people to become regular cyclists because i) there are health benefits for those who do cycle regularly and ii) the wide use of cycles instead of other modes of transport is beneficial for the environment, both in terms of pollution and congestion. The first two targets in Camden Council’s Cycling Plan are about increasing the proportion of trips made by cycle.
TfL’s London Cycling Action Plan gives figures for the frequency of cycling in London. This shows that 16% of men and 8% of women cycle at least once a week; and 5% of men and 2% of women cycle every day. In the Netherlands, men and women cycle at about equal frequency. There is thus considerable potential for increasing the numbers of cyclists by getting more women to cycle. CCC welcomes the efforts in this direction by Alix Stredwick’s Women’s Design Service (WDS). CCC would like to see the roads in Camden made safe enough for many more women to have the confidence to take trips by cycle. We would also like Camden Council to permit cycling in some of their parks to allow novice cyclists and children to learn basic bike handling skills in a safe environment.
The road environment
CCC strongly supports the introduction of 20 mph zones in all residential areas, both in Camden and throughout London. Unfortunately, until the behaviour of drivers changes, physical or legal measures will be needed to enforce it. The physical measures mentioned in the report include road humps, cushions and raised junctions, all of which are essential to speed reduction.
CCC believes that Camden Council could introduce more road closures – the most effective traffic calming measure. There is plenty of scope for more road closures in the borough.
The presence of road closures makes local walking and cycle journeys more viable by reducing the number of short car trips to local shops and schools and by cutting commuter rat-running. The consequent reduction of traffic vastly improves the street environment and safety. More people deserve to live in a better environment.
We have a vision of a Camden in which most residents live in areas of quiet local streets with low traffic density and low driving speeds. In such environments cyclists and pedestrians will feel much safer. These areas would be good places for women, children and cyclists without much confidence to learn to cycle on the roads. New road cyclists in these areas could set out from home with confidence.
In genuinely low-speed and uncongested zones cyclists would not need special cycle tracks, their needs being gaps in the road closures and by-passes to
no-entries, an absence of one-way streets and signage.
For the roads that are outside such zones, cyclists will continue to require either segregated or unsegregated cycle lanes depending on the conditions. The cyclist casualty figures are high in many of these roads, for example, Kentish Town Road, Theobalds Road and Tavistock Place (Camden Cycling Plan). Although an enforcement of speed limits is essential to cyclist safety, more is needed to prevent cyclist casualties.
For safety cyclists must be given adequate room on the road in all situations. Particular attention is required i) on approach to junctions ii) when making right turns and iii) when crossing a bigger road by turning left and then right e.g. when crossing Kentish Town Road from Islip Street to Holmes Road.
The introduction of ASLs and feeder lanes makes more room for cyclists, but only if motor vehicles are prevented from parking and driving in the feeder lanes.
Pedestrians and Cyclists
Because regular walking produces the same health and environmental advantages as cycling, CCC members often express solidarity with pedestrians, however we’re not sure whether it is reciprocated. Therefore we will address some of the issues of possible conflict.
Collisions between pedestrians and cyclists
In the UK in 2001 64 pedestrians were injured in collisions with cyclists on the pavement and 148 on the carriagway. These figures are very low compared with the corresponding figures for cars (e.g. in 2001, 7 pedestrians were killed by cars on the pavement and 604 injured)
We understand that recently there has been a big increase in the number of collisions between pedestrians and cyclists within the congestion charge area. Although cycling has increased by 15% this is not enough to account for the increase in the number of collisions. We suspect that both cyclists and pedestrians have become careless. CCC would like Camden to investigate the circumstances of these collisions.
The majority of schemes for pedestrian safety introduce road narrowing by crossings and at junctions to help pedestrians to cross the road. Narrowing the road at a pedestrian crossing is a problem for cyclists when the approach to a crossing is free of parked cars – less experienced cyclists ride on the left and then pull out into the traffic flow. Narrowing is also difficult where there is pavement build out and a central island (e.g. in Regents Park Road).
CCC recommends that its members do not cycle on pavements, but wheel the bike instead. We do however believe that young children should use the pavements, to give them an opportunity to ride at all. We commiserate with pedestrians who are alarmed by it, as the sensation of large objects passing close-by at three to four times your own speed is one that cyclists not using the pavements put up with all the time. Fortunately, the actual statistics for collisions between pedestrians and cyclists on the pavement, even allowing for the three-fold under-reporting of cycle and pedestrian slight injury, are not as bad as our instinctive responses suggest they should be.
Reasons given for pavement cycling: i) roads are too dangerous; ii) congestion e.g. on trying to get to the head of a queue on approach to traffic lights; iii) because a street is one way. We believe that with the improvement of the cycling environment, the amount of pavement cycling would be reduced.
We would like the council to conduct a survey to find out who does cycle on pavements, where and why. The results could be used to introduce measures to reduce the incidence of pavement cycling. Another question is whether Camden is training children adequately to ride on the roads at the age of 12 and how many of their roads are safe enough to be ridden by 12-year olds.
Cyclists in Camden have to share the borough’s 280 km of road network with motor vehicles, and in some locations hazards are extreme for cyclists. In contrast pedestrians in Camden have around 560km of segregated footway which (in theory) is completely free of vehicles. Whilst recognising the annoyance and dangers caused by pavement cyclists, we would like to see pedestrians take a more constructive view of the problems and join with cyclists in campaigning for more segregated cycle routes or removal/reduction of the motor vehicle hazards.
Section 1 issues
20 mph zones
CCC is very pleased to see that the issue of the safety of pedestrians and cyclists is being taken so seriously. We very strongly support the introduction of 20 mph zones, both in Camden and throughout London. It is encouraging that the Mayor Ken Livingstone and the Deputy Mayor Jenny Jones both support the introduction of a 20 mph limit for all residential areas. Unfortunately until the behaviour of drivers changes, physical measures will be needed to enforce it.
It would be good to introduce a residential area Camden-wide 20 mph zone.
However, CCC believes that a purely voluntary 20 mph zone would not succeed. For example, we have heard that the flashing
slow down signs reduce speed only by 1-2 mph. We therefore believe that all 20 mph zones should be enforced by one means or another, that is, either by the physical structure of the road; or by the law, supported by technology such as cameras and speed limiters. Without enforcement, there is a danger of yet another useless, ignored speed limit and yet more disregard for the rules of the road. We would like to encourage the Council to extend its 20 mph zones. We also feel that they should look into alternative methods of enforcement for areas such as Primrose Hill where residents will not accept humps. We have heard that early tests of
ripple print were disappointing, but would like to know whether there has been any progress.
Speed and red light cameras
We think that Camden should campaign for the right to use speed cameras more widely and to detect lower speeds. There is no particular reason for them to be inconspicuous.
Consulting on road safety issues
The Council could improve consultation with residents and other interested parties by means of local meetings, existing residents associations and pressure groups.
To help children and the aged, pedestrians should be given more time and more Pelican Crossings should be replaced by Puffins. There are some sites in Camden where there are still dangerous conditions, e.g. at the junction of Adelaide Road and Primrose Hill, which has no pedestrian phase although many pedestrians including children need to cross there.
The narrowing of a road at the site of pedestrian crossing can be a hazard for cyclists in cases where cyclists riding on the left of the road have to move to the right and into the path of cars behind. A narrower crossing is clearly easier for pedestrians, but is often difficult for child and inexperienced cyclists. In many cases, allowing of extra time for pedestrians would be a preferable alternative.
Lorries in Camden
We strongly support the proposal to create a lorry-free road network on residential roads in Camden other than for access and delivery. This could be enforced by means of selective road closures mentioned above. The closures would be designed to ensure that it is difficult to use the roads in the area as a route to somewhere outside. Lorries would generally come in and then go out by the same route.
Section 2 issues
TfL Road Network: CCC is in favour of lobbying TfL for extra resources to make the TfL Road Network in Camden safer.
Police attitude to driver crime: We believe that the police attitude to driver crime is improving. But there is a way to go and we support all measures to encourage the police to take speeding and ignoring red lights more seriously and prosecute offenders.
Safer routes to leisure facilities: CCC is strongly in favour of safer routes to leisure facilities in Camden for children. Children need the independence that they can gain if they are able to reach these facilities without being accompanied by parents. They also need the exercise they gain by walking or cycling to these facilities.
Social surveys: We believe that there is a need for TfL to conduct social surveys concerning fear of road traffic. The results could be put to good use in the fight for the rights of pedestrians and cyclists.
Road safety measures: There is a need for a new measure of road safety other than casualty numbers. In particular, a measure of usage by people of all ages would be an indicator and a measure of speed would be another. The current measures omit any consideration of convenience and perception of danger. For example, people will be discouraged from crossing a busy road with inadequate crossing facilities, yet road casualties might be low because crossing the road is inconvenient, or looks more hazardous than it is, so people don’t try.
Bus driver behaviour: Many bus drivers adopt an unnecessarily aggressive style of driving in which they go fast, stop suddenly and start again too soon. This makes it very difficult for people who can’t hold on because they are with young children. It is dangerous for old people who may be thrown over. It can also be highly intimidating for cyclists in their vicinity. We welcome TfL’s introduction of a BTEC driving qualification which is compulsory for new bus drivers.
Speed limiters : We strongly believe that this is the future way to go in order to enforce speed limits. We would like to encourage Camden to campaign with the government and TfL to expedite their development and to set up trials in their use. One aspect of development would be to make them tamper proof.
Two wheeled motor vehicles (TWMVs): since the reduction of traffic in central London due to the congestion charge, as a cyclist, we have become aware of the difficulty of coexisting with TWMVs. Their drivers’ habits of weaving in and out and going into narrow places must be a worry to pedestrians as well as cyclists.
What more can be done in terms of Road Safety Education? Teach more awareness of other road users, especially cyclists, and especially how to drive when there are cycle lanes (segregated or not).
A note on the replies in part 2
Over 100 of CCC members subscribe to the CCC mailing list. The text of the consultation was posted on this list together with some initial comments to get the ball rolling. Many members have commented and their feedback has been used to formulate our response