Now the killer fact: In the UK, providing your child doesn’t have an inherited / genetically based disease (congenital defects, child cancers, etc), then the thing that is most likely to kill them, most likely to stop you becoming a grandparent, and most likely to stop them reaching their full adult potential . . . is still a road traffic incident.
That comes after noticing
The UK has seen a 50% improvement in road traffic deaths in the last 35 years, yet the Dutch have achieved a 78% improvement in the same period.
Clearly making the roads safer for cars has been unsuccessful in keeping children alive compared to making the roads safer for pedestrians and cyclists.
However, making the roads safer for cars has not only failed to protect children it has had a number of other very negative effects:
When the focus is on making the roads safer for cars the key effect is not only children are killed but also there are other side effects:
- congestion: More people are encouraged to travel by car. This becomes a vicious circle as the more people travel by car the less safe walking and cycling feel so the more people travel by car and so on. However, wide we make the roads, however efficient we make junctions congestion still gets worse.
- obesity: The UK has the worst levels of obesity in Europe. Our preferred means of travel is a key element in this. Simply we get less exercise as we drive everywhere.
- school achievement: studies have shown that children who walk or cycle to school are more alert and better behaved as they are properly awake and have had some exercise
- pollution: we fail to meet the targets for pollution as we refuse to accept the role of the car (and especially cars stuck in congestion) as a key cause. This has knock-on effects on people’s health and happiness which negatively impact the economy.
- carbon footprint: transport is a large factor in our national carbon footprint and cars hugely significant within this. We have built an infrastructure and culture that commits us to an unsustainable carbon footprint.
- energy dependency: we have passed or are passing peak oil. From here on global oil production (from industry figures) is in terminal decline. Yet we continue to build an infrastructure and culture that is dependant on oil
- But to repeat the point David and Karl make. Our car focused transport policy kills Children. Until we change our policy as they did in the Netherlands and as they have since done in Copenhagen and are starting to do in many other cities we will still kill Children.
Our transport policy is not working and as a result our children are being killed. So let us change the policy.
Let us stop the war on Children and make the roads safer for them. That requires
- A high quality segregated cycle network which covers whole journeys with safe crossings at junctions and with low levels of traffic. Note there are easy tests of the quality of a cycle network. Is it being used by children and Mum’s? Are people switching from their cars to use the network? Is 50% of all journeys by foot or bike a goal that we can see annual double digit progress towards?
- 20mph speed limits in all towns on all roads in those towns except major trunk routes which ALWAYS have fully separated cycle and pedestrian paths and where every single junction has a safe crossings for cyclists and pedestrians.
- Strict enforcement of driving offences: speeding, parking (especially on paths and cycle routes), mobile phone usage etc. The penalties to be significant with long term loss of driving license being expected by all.
- Always, automatic and immediate removal of driving licenses for life for anyone who kills a pedestrian or cyclist while driving whatever the circumstances.
- Always, automatic and immediate confiscation of the vehicle from anyone who kills a pedestrian or cyclist while driving whatever the circumstances.
- Just as Paris is considering ban the most polluting vehicles from all city centres (SUV’s, road legal racing cars etc). They frighten pedestrians and cyclists, take up too much space and damage the city environment too much.
- Targets for all schools for % of children walking or cycling to school. Helped by enforced no parking within 1/2 mile of the school.