CROYDON COMMENTARY: Our borough has some of the most dangerous roads in London, so ANDREW PELLING, pictured, finds it saddening that the local Tories are campaigning against safer speed limits
Road safety is a vital concern for Greater London, Croydon and its residents.
That has to be the case with more than 30,000 people being killed or injured in traffic collisions in London each year. Usually, it is the most vulnerable road users – pedestrians, motor cyclists and cyclists – who come off worse in such collisions. All that human misery hurts both victims and their families.
In that context, next week, the London Road Safety Council (LRSC) will be marking its centenary with a conference at The Guildhall in The City on Tuesday. Originally known as the London Accident Prevention Council, the LRSC has a great history of public education on road safety and raising the profile of road safety and road safety education.
In times when shock advertising had more effect, the organisation found itself immersed in controversy when, just after the Second World War, it used a picture of a widow in mourning to urge motorists to avoid carelessness.
Today, the LRSC brings together borough road safety officers and local councillors. I chair the LRSC’s Executive Committee having been nominated by Croydon Council since the 2014 local elections.
The president of the LRSC since 2015 has been the Olympic gold medal-winning rower James Cracknell, whose interest in road safety is motivated by his experience of having been seriously injured one early morning by a petrol tanker while journeying across the United States. His cycling helmet saved his life.
The LRSC’s profile has also been bolstered by work for Transport for London to heighten awareness of road safety, generous support from the City of London Corporation and a much enhanced social media presence.
Among the intriguing items on the agenda at this week’s conference is a talk on the first air bag for cyclists and feedback from Atkins professional transport planners, who are doing a three-year study for the Department for Transport on 20mph zones including how well they are being observed by motorists.
This, of course, is particularly relevant to Croydon with the current consultation on extending 20mph zones throughout the borough.
Most 20mph zones are currently in south-east and inner north-east London. During the period from 2011 to 2015, along with five north London boroughs and Lewisham, Croydon’s roads were among the most dangerous in the capital, measured by KSIs (killed or seriously injured) per billion kilometres travelled.
In the 12 months to March 2016, 1,094 people were injured in traffic collisions on Croydon roads. Three people were killed and 60 seriously injured. Overall injury numbers were up on the previous year even though the long-term trend in Croydon and London is for significant reductions in traffic injuries.
With so much death and injury across our local roads, I find it rather sad that the Croydon Conservatives have found themselves in a position of lobbying for faster speed limits and against the 20mph zones proposed.
Previous TfL-commissioned research shows that on 20mph roads the number of killed and seriously injured casualties is more than halved, reduced by 57 per cent, and the frequency of other injury accidents reduced by 42 per cent.
- Andrew Pelling, a former Croydon MP and London Assembly Member, is now a Labour councillor in Waddon ward
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