Time to make cities for people, not vehicles – Brake

10.19 | 25 September 2019 | | | 3 comments

The dominance of motor traffic is preventing people – particularly children – from walking and cycling in urban areas, according to Brake.

Latest Government figures show 1,276 children were seriously injured while walking in 2018 – an average of more than three a day.

The road safety charity is calling for the ‘transformation of urban transport‘, enabling people to move around cities in safe and healthy ways.

Key to this, Brake says, is giving priority to vulnerable road users – with greater investment in cycling and walking infrastructure, as well as the introduction of a default 20mph in urban areas.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for Brake, said: “Walking to and from school or a friend’s house should be a natural, and safe, part of growing up and so it’s hugely concerning that drivers think children walking are at risk due to the threat posed by traffic in cities. 

“We should all be free to move around in safe and healthy ways, whether on foot or by bike, but the dominance of motor traffic is preventing us from doing so.”

Drivers accept need to protect vulnerable road users
Brake has raised the issue following the publication of a new survey, which suggests drivers appear to acknowledge the need to take action to reduce the risk to vulnerable road users.

The survey, which gathered the views of 1,000 drivers, found two thirds believe the threat of traffic means it is often unsafe for children to walk in UK cities.

Meanwhile, 46% of respondents said walking and cycling should be given greatest priority in UK cities, compared to 15% who think the priority should be given to personal motorised vehicles.

Joshua Harris added: “It’s time to transform our urban areas into places for people, not for vehicles, and it’s great to see that drivers themselves support this move. 

“More and safer routes for people walking and cycling alongside slower vehicle speeds are vital to help make our cities more safe and healthy places to be – we need cities for people, not cities for vehicles.”



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    Achieving this is a big challenge requiring a real paradigm shift. For example Lewisham BC (a good record on road safety) have recently ‘traffic calmed’ a key intersection (Manor Park/Handen Road. However this redesign requires pedestrians to monitor traffic coming from five directions and is beyond the skills of children especially at busy times when they are going to and from school. Motorists realise the difficulty and often stop in the middle of the road to help pedestrians to cross but this adds to danger from other traffic who don’t stop. I would add there are six schools from which children need to use this crossing. I have witnessed many near accidents. WE need a complete rethink about public realm design.

    Kris Beuret, London
    Agree (5) | Disagree (0)

    Of course its more difficult. But that is no reason not to do it. The un-making is relatively easy. Reduce carriageway width, make the place look more people oriented with planters and parklets, set correct speed limits, enforce them, install crossings and cycleways. All of these are relatively cheap compared with the building of new roads that only feed motorism priority.

    Rod King, Lymm
    Agree (8) | Disagree (10)

    I’m fine with the call to make new cities and towns for people. It is un-making of existing designs and infrastructure which have prioritised vehicles that is a tad more difficult.

    Pat, Wales
    Agree (8) | Disagree (1)

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