Vision Zero: Will UK government follow London’s lead?
The Mayor of London’s ‘Vision Zero’ strategy, is bold, ambitious and a positive first step on the road to eliminating road deaths and serious injuries in London. says Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake.
London is a busy city that’s becoming ever more crowded and congested. Every year more than 2,000 people are killed or seriously injured on our capital’s streets and the near misses are countless. Combine this with the increasing demand for safer cycling and walking and it is clear that bold action needed to be taken. The Mayor’s ‘Vision Zero’ strategy, published earlier this month, is bold, ambitious and is a positive first step on the road to eliminating all road deaths and serious injuries in London.
The Mayor’s strategy will implement 20mph limits on all central London roads managed by Transport for London (TfL), a move long overdue but welcome. As with most policy, enforcement will be key to its success, and that is why the involvement of the Metropolitan Police Service (MPS) is crucial, as is their commitment to a three-tier approach to roads policing. London’s strategy also focuses its attention on the most vulnerable road users, cyclists and pedestrians. Lorries entering London will be required to have improved driver vision, to help avoid catastrophic crashes with cyclists, and action will be taken to improve the capital’s most dangerous junctions.
Following publication of the strategy, the rollout of 20mph limits gained the lion’s share of press attention, with widespread coverage across the UK. What was less covered, but arguably more significant to the development of road safety in the UK, is London’s commitment to a ‘Vision Zero’ approach and the strategy’s assertion that no injury on London’s roads should be treated as acceptable or inevitable. This is a fundamental change in the way road safety in London is approached and Brake, and other road safety campaigners, welcome this shift in emphasis and urge others to follow suit.
London’s ‘Vision Zero’ strategy sets a target of eliminating all deaths and serious injuries from road collisions from the capital’s streets by 2041. An earlier target date would have been welcome; however, the setting of the target itself is key and is fundamental to the Vision Zero process, providing a defined goal upon which actions can be built, performance can be measured and progress achieved.
The timing of London’s ‘Vision Zero’ strategy is worthy of note. It comes at a moment when central government is reassessing its road safety priorities and can be said to be at somewhat of a crossroads with regards to road safety. It is well established that road safety progress has stagnated in Britain over the past five years and a damning report, published by the government last month, acknowledged that there has been “insufficient central government leadership in road safety over the last decade”. This same report, the ‘Road Safety Management Capacity Review’, urges central government to adopt a national road safety performance framework – with set targets to reduce death and serious injury on our roads as its number one recommendation.
With Roads Minister Jesse Norman MP announcing in June that the government would be refreshing its 2015 Road Safety Statement, now is the time for central government to follow London’s lead and adopt a ‘Vision Zero’ approach for Britain. Such an approach, with its accompanied performance framework and targets, can help re-energise road safety progress in this country, helping us put an end to the preventable tragedy that is road death and serious injury. We certainly hope, therefore, that when it comes to road safety, the rest of the country does follows London’s lead.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at Brake, the road safety charity