A 14-year-old boy who was cycling home from school in Weymouth yesterday was killed by the driver of an articulated lorry.
It’s far too early to establish the precise circumstances of the collision, but of two things we can be certain: Not only will the boy’s family and friends be suffering unimaginable grief, but nothing will happen to mitigate the factors that contributed to the crash. It’s the reason we are in such dire need of a systematic approach to road danger reduction.
According to the Road Danger Reduction Forum: “The road danger reduction approach to achieving safer roads seeks to reduce danger at source. This calls for a recognition of the fact that the principal source of danger on the road is motor vehicles. Traditional approaches to road safety have taken casualty reduction as a measure of achievement. Initiatives, particularly in highway engineering, have been justified on the basis of predicted casualty savings.”
Death by design
For example, take a look at the photograph above showing the scene of yesterday’s crash. It’s a shocking indictment of British streets today. Nothing short of death by design.
Let’s start with the road itself. The speed limit is 30 mph and yet its width and absence of traffic calming measures means a car could comfortably do 60. With regards to the pavement, it’s more than wide enough for a segregated cycle path and yet no such provision exists. In fact, it’s being used as parking by drivers – even though the road is more than wide enough to accommodate them.
Engineering the highway in order to dramatically reduce road danger might seem like a radical idea in the context of Britain’s streets, but elsewhere in Europe it’s an approach that has shown massive dividends and saved countless lives. We are already 40 years behind The Netherlands in this regard. Let’s not squander any more time, or lives, before we follow in their footsteps.