Last year, the number of people killed and seriously injured on London’s roads fell to 2,324 – the lowest level since records began and down 23% on the previous twelve months.
But there is still much more to do and this year’s Road Safety Week (November 17 to 23) is a timely reminder.
It is to the benefit of all Londoners, of all ages and from every part of the city, for our roads to be safer.
While the prime concern is the tragic loss of life, the perceived risk of being badly hurt or killed on the road is also a significant barrier to people using cleaner, healthier and more sustainable forms of transport like cycling and walking.
London Councils – which represents the 32 London boroughs and the City of London – supports a series of projects aimed at making travel in and around London greener and more efficient.
Through the London European Partnership for Transport (LEPT), the STARS project encourages more school children to walk and cycle to school, thereby easing local traffic, improving air quality and helping them become more active. London Councils is also lead partner on PTP-Cycle, which promotes a shift from private vehicles to walking, cycling and public transport.
But if we are to truly bring about a marked shift in how people of all ages move around the city we must continue to make progress on road safety – something London local government is working hard to do.
Individual councils have made huge strides in improving road safety. Islington has brought in a blanket 20mph limit on its minor roads it is responsible for and so has the City of London for most of its roads, while other boroughs, including Brent for example, offer free cycle training to anyone who lives, works or studies in the borough.
My own borough of Ealing offers cycling tuition to children and adults, targets areas where drivers park dangerously on zigzag markings near schools, and has achieved speed reductions on key roads through the borough.
On the back of this success, the future looks promising too. Earlier this year, Camden approved plans for what is thought to be the country’s first segregated cycle junction, and three boroughs – Enfield, Kingston and Waltham Forest – won up to £30m each to implement innovative projects to promote safer cycling, under the Mayor’s Mini-Hollands scheme.
As part of the Vauxhall Nine Elms Battersea development, Wandsworth intends to create a new network of footpaths and cycle lanes, including a linear park running east to west through the district.
Meanwhile, London Councils is making local authorities’ voices heard in Parliament by opposing government plans under the Deregulation Bill to curb councils’ use of CCTV in enforcing existing parking laws.
These powers help some of our most vulnerable road users stay safe, especially when they apply near schools. We believe councils should retain the power to decide what the most effective measures are for their areas.
Local authorities are fully supportive of Transport for London’s Safer Lorries Scheme, which will exclude heavy goods vehicles from London’s roads if they do not have the latest safety features. London Councils is responsible for implementing the traffic orders which provide the legal foundation for enforcing the scheme, on behalf of the boroughs and the City of London.
As the nation’s capital, London should lead the way in demonstrating how local government, central government and the transport authorities can work together to protect all road users, while balancing this with the free movement of traffic and the road network’s vital role in our daily lives.
Julian Bell, chair of London Councils’ Transport and Environment Committee