This article was published in 2020, in Magazine 149.
Health workers urge London Mayor to improve road safety
More than 120 doctors and nurses have written to Sadiq Khan in support of road changes that make it safer to walk and cycle in the capital. In response to the pandemic, Transport for London announced their Streetspace initiative which was intended to move people away from public transport and towards more active travel in order to support physical distancing and avoid an increase in car traffic. Under the scheme, 61.6km of cycle lanes were built or upgraded, an area of more than 22,500sq m of extra pavement space was reallocated to pedestrians, and 1,400 new cycle parking spaces were added.
Some of the Low Traffic Neighbourhoods are proving controversial and the letter’s signatories hope their plea will encourage the Mayor to promote them. The letter states: ‘Supporting people to walk and cycle with Streetspace is the best chance we have to arrest this rise and avoid a damaging car-based recovery that could set London back many years in progress on active and sustainable transport, road danger reduction and clean air.’
Dedicated active travel carriages arrive in Scotland
New carriages on ScotRail’s West Highland Line will provide space for sports equipment and bikes – including space for tandems. Tom Smith, ScotRail project manager, said: ‘It will be a welcome boost for cyclists and those in search of outdoor pursuits along Scotland’s most scenic railways.’
Media guidelines launched for reporting road collisions
New guidelines for media reports on road traffic collisions were published on 26 November, after a national consultation. Drafted by active travel and road safety organisations as well as policing, legal, academic and media experts, the new guidelines seek to establish a standard for broadcasters and publishers.
A key recommendation is that journalists should avoid the word ‘accident’, use ‘crash’ or ‘collision’ instead, and acknowledge the role of drivers in such incidents rather than portraying vulnerable road users as the party at fault, as when, for instance, it is highlighted that a cyclist was not wearing a helmet. The misrepresentation of such incidents in the press leads to confusion within public debate on the issue, with a knock-on effect on improving road safety.
As Professor Rachel Aldred, director of the Active Travel Academy, explained: ‘Research shows that how crashes are reported shapes how we think about and respond to them … so it is crucial that journalists have guidance helping them with current best practice around road collision reporting’.
Read the new guidelines at rc-rg.com
As the government announced the second tranche of Covid-19 funding for walking and cycling schemes worth £175 million, it included results from a new survey that showed 8 out 10 supported measures to reduce road traffic.
News in numbers
of people surveyed for a recent travel report said they cycled more than they did before the pandemic. 39% walked more.
new School Streets have been introduced in London as part of the Streetspace Covid-19 measures, along with 56 miles of cycle lanes and 96 low-traffic neighbourhoods.