Sunday, 15 October 2017

Letter to Helen Hayes

We sent the below email to our MP Helen Hayes following the DfT's 28 September statistical release, 'Reported Road Casualties in Great Britain: 2016 Annual Report'.

Dear Helen,

Firstly, thank you for attending our meeting last month. We very much appreciated you joining us and for all your hard work in mediating between the many parties involved in current issues affecting local transport and travel.

Unfortunately, I must now turn to a much less happy matter.

I am writing to you in order to express the forum's grave concerns regarding the fact that pedestrian fatalities actually increased in 2016 and that 26% of these fatalities were children aged under 15.

We especially wish to highlight the cases of Esme Williams and Georgia Addy, two of the school children killed or seriously injured in road traffic collisions last year.

Esme was killed by a van driver whilst scooting to pre-school. Georgia suffered life changing injuries after being struck by a van driver as she walked home from school. Both girls were on the pavement when they were hit yet neither driver received a custodial sentence.

As you are aware, the schools in the forum work hard to promote active travel to families in our community. We strongly believe active travel is vital to the health and wellbeing of our young people, but clearly this is absolutely dependent on our roads being safe for vulnerable users.

Following the coverage of the Williams trial, Daniel Hewett, a local parent, tweeted the Safe Routes account, writing 'Trucks mounting the pavement typifies our daily walk to school along Bowen Drive SE21'. This echoes the concerns of other parents in our community; they feel that not only our local roads, but even our pavements are too dangerous for our children to use safely.

We ask you, Helen, to please call on Government to prioritise improving road safety and to make clear what their plans are to ensure walking is a safe choice for our children and young people.

We do not wish to see another increase in such awful statistics. 

We look forward to hearing your response to our letter and of any steps you take to support our call. 

With thanks

Amy Foster

Dulwich & Herne Hill Safe Routes to School Group
c/o Alleyn's Junior School
Townley Road

Wednesday, 4 October 2017

Mayor's Transport Strategy

The Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, published his draft transport strategy in June. You can read the strategy summary and full draft here.

The consultation closed on October 2nd and SRS submitted the following comments:

1) London faces a number of growing challenges to the sustainability of its transport system. To re-examine the way people move about the city in the context of these challenges, it is important that they have been correctly identified. 

We see the school run as having a huge impact on the morning and evening rush hours. We feel that at present parents don't have enough options available to them on how to get their children to school safely and on to work. Road traffic collisions remain the biggest cause of death for young people aged 11-18, with many of these deaths occurring during the evening rush hour, when they are returning from school. We believe safe walking and cycling routes to school should be a first step to tackling some of the issues around rush hour congestion as if parents feel they can safely cycle with their children to school and then onto work, or even that their children can complete the same journey independently, they may choose to do so over the car or public transport, easing the pressure on the network.

Steps to achieve this vision:

The public health issues around childhood obesity and air quality are a major concern and focus for our group. We support all measures that seek to improve active travel options ( even if that is the walk to the bus stop or train station). Furthermore, we support accessibility at stations as travelling with multiple children is another barrier to parents choosing public transport over the car. Investment in public transport (including trams) improves the range of options available to parents and school children on how to complete their journeys.

Healthy Streets

We would like to see the healthy streets agenda being rolled forward with a particular focus being placed on healthy school streets. This is as we feel the impacts of both inactivity and air pollution on children's health is at crisis point and needs to be addressed immediately.

 The Mayor’s draft plans to reduce road danger and improve personal safety and security

We very much support the 20's plenty campaign and would like to see TfL follow suit in reducing the speed limit on all of their roads too, as the authorities in New York have.  We do not believe it to be fair that roads with faster speed limits (the arterials), given that nearly every road in the capital has some residential housing on it, where children may be living.  The suggestion seems to be that only those who can afford to live on quieter streets can afford for their children to be safe when crossing the road, which to us is an injustice.

The Mayor’s draft plans to ensure that crime and the fear of crime remain low on London’s streets and transport system  

Research shows communities develop more readily on streets with less motor traffic . We believe blocking more roads to through traffic and reducing traffic speeds would allow children to play more safely in their neighbourhood streets, creating links between local residents and families. Strong community ties create safer communities.

 The Mayor’s draft plans to prioritise space-efficient modes of transport to tackle congestion and improve the efficiency of streets

Cycling and walking are the most efficient ways of using road space to transport people. However, children need segregated cycle tracks or traffic free routes if they are to travel by bike. We firmly support the creation of new protected cycle tracks, across the capital, so that all children are able to travel safely in the capital.

The Mayor’s proposed approach to road user charging 

At present, there are few disbenefits to driving, especially outside the congestion charging zone. It can be cheaper than public transport for peak time journeys. We support congestion charging, increased permit costs, limits on off-road parking and the removal of on street parking.

Parking is one of the key aspects that makes walking or cycling dangerous with younger children. Drivers can pull out of driveways without anticipating small children in their path and parking limits the visibility and ease with which it is possible to cross the street, especially when one has a buggy. Driving needs to be made less attractive if other transport methods are to be seen as beneficial.

The Mayor’s draft plans to protect the natural and built environment, to ensure transport resilience to climate change, and to minimise transport-related noise and vibration

We very much welcome the creation of parklets and new open green spaces. Our children need to be active and inviting places in which to play are central to encouraging this.

The Mayor’s draft plans to provide an attractive whole-journey experience that will encourage greater use of public transport, walking and cycling. 

Many parents have to drop children off or collect them at the start or end of a journey. Being able to combine modes makes it easier to complete these things efficiently, without having to use a car.

The Mayor’s draft plans to improve rail services by improving journey times and tackling crowding 

Reliability is a key issue for our network, where many services are served by Southern and frequently, and severely, affected by the industrial action. We would welcome efforts for the network to be brought under the Overground umbrella.

The Mayor’s proposed approach to responding to changing technology, including new transport services, such as connected and autonomous vehicles. 

 It does seem autonomous vehicles could offer a means of reducing car ownership. We would wish to point out that this does not indicate a reduction in traffic volumes and may do little to improve road safety for children and families.

Are there any other comments you would like to make on the draft Mayor’s Transport Strategy?

The aims are commendable. However, we would like to see real improvements to walking and cycling being made now in outer London in the near future, with the creation of segregated cycle tracks and modal filtering being used more widely near schools. We are deeply concerned that the health and well-being of our young people isn't valued highly enough to put some of these ambitious policies into action immediately.