Free resource helps local authorities improve cyclist and pedestrian safety in urban areas

11.56 | 3 July 2023 | |

Local authorities can now access a specialist resource to help understand the risks to, and improve the safety of, vulnerable road users in towns and cities.

The free-to-access ViDA tool hosts data gathered through the International Road Assessment Programme (iRAP) – which assesses the safety standards of roads.

The tool has been enhanced with an extra set of countermeasures – thanks to a project by the Road Safety Foundation, funded by The Road Safety Trust.

The project was carried out in partnership with iRAP, four local authorities and the road safety charity Brake.

It has enhanced the globally recognised iRAP methodology for urban environments so road authorities can understand how risk changes along an individual road section or across a network, based on the safety performance of the infrastructure itself.

iRAP’s Star Rating Methodology provides a simple and objective measure of the level of safety which is ‘built-in’ to the road for vehicle occupants, motorcyclists, cyclists and pedestrians. A one-star road is the least safe and a five-star road is the safest.

With the inclusion of additional new urban countermeasures – known as Urban Investment Plans – ViDA can help local authorities understand the benefits of introducing evidence-based road safety engineering measures in urban areas, to improve the environment for all road users, but especially pedestrians and cyclists.

Dr Suzy Charman, executive director of the Road Safety Foundation, said: “Including more urban road safety countermeasures in the iRAP tools is a huge step forward in the drive towards proactive risk treatment which is central to the Safe System.

“Pedestrians, cyclists and micro mobility users have to be at the heart of our mission to make roads safer as they are the most vulnerable in traffic. The outputs of this project have helped us already in projects such as the Safer Roads Fund where the latest cohort of routes has been much more urban than those of previous rounds.

“Of course, these enhancements to the iRAP tools are not just being experienced in the UK, rather they are also applicable in any iRAP assessment globally – with iRAP partners already having Star Rated more than 1.4 million kilometres of roads and designs now in well over 100 countries.”

The iRAP approach provides a proactive route assessment methodology to model and treat risk based on Safe System principles. The potential for fatal and serious casualties is assessed, and future fatal and serious injuries are estimated. This information is then used to trigger countermeasures in the model designed to address the type of risk detected.

These countermeasures are tested in terms of their casualty reduction potential to develop an economic appraisal of the measure also known as a Safer Roads Investment Plan.

Sonya Hurt, chief executive of The Road Safety Trust, said: “The iRAP Methodology is globally recognised and has been used by partners across the world for many years to help them make their roads safer.

“This project means local authorities serving urban areas can now experience enhanced insights to improve safety for the most vulnerable road users in urban environments.

“This is particularly important as we look to encourage more people to walk and cycle.”

James Bradford, iRAP Global technical director, said: “The Urban Investment Plans are a fantastic example of a local innovation that’s been piloted in the UK building on the iRAP Star Rating Methodology to meet a local need.

“It is helping to improve the Safer Roads Investment Plans (SRIPs) generated by the iRAP approach, to ensure the latest thinking and innovation for safety measures for vulnerable road users – pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists – in urban environments are fully embedded allowing road authorities to better make the case for investment to prevent their fatal and serious injuries.

“Through iRAP’s Innovation Framework, it is one of several exciting initiatives underway globally that are made safer by iRAP and will help countries accelerate towards the global target of halving road death and injury by 2030.”


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