Friday, 21 November 2014

Interview with Swedish Vision Zero expert

Vision Zero originated in Sweden in the late 90s and one of the people at the heart of the implementation has been Matts-Åke Belin who last week presented 15 years of progress to the Vision Zero Symposium in New York, a city which has adopted Vision Zero principles earlier this year and this month has reduced the speed limit to 40kph (still too high).

Here are excerpts from an interview with Sarah Goodyear:

Barriers to adoption

The largest resistance we got to the idea about Vision Zero was from those political economists that have built their whole career on cost-benefit analysis. For them it is very difficult to buy into “zero.” Because in their economic models, you have costs and benefits, and although they might not say it explicitly, the idea is that there is an optimum number of fatalities. A price that you have to pay for transport.
The other group that had trouble with Vision Zero was our friends, our expert friends. Because most of the people in the safety community had invested in the idea that safety work is about changing human behavior. Vision Zero says instead that people make mistakes, they have a certain tolerance for external violence, let’s create a system for the humans instead of trying to adjust the humans to the system.

A more human-friendly system 

Why should we put the whole responsibility on the individual road user, when we know they will talk on their phones, they will do lots of things that we might not be happy about?
In Vision Zero, the accident is not the major problem. The problem is that people get killed or seriously injured. And the reason that people get serious injuries is mainly because people have a certain threshold where we can tolerate external violence, kinetic energy. And we know quite well now how much violence we can tolerate.
If you have places in your system where you have unprotected road users and protected road users, according to Vision Zero you can’t allow a higher speed than 30kph.
Mistakes will happen all the time. In our societies now, we are so dependent on road transport, we need to allow almost everyone to use this technology. That brings it back to those of us who design the system: We need to design a system that supports these people so you don’t have catastrophic failure, i.e. KSIs

Read more here.


Wednesday, 19 November 2014

The people in charge of London roads do not understand safe road design

From the monstrous victim-blaming TfL Commissioner, Peter Hendy, to simpleton Councillors, like Phil Jones in Camden or Robert Benham in Havering, the people in charge of London roads have no clue on the principles of safe road design.

They are quick to blame victims or drivers, but refuse to learn the lessons from the killing fields.

Take the killing of Harry Keller & Colin Hicks in Romford last year. The couple was mowed down by a bus driver who ran a red light. The driver has been recently sentenced to 30 months in jail. For TfL and Havering Council, that is the end of the story: a rogue driver caused the death of two people. 

Any intelligent person would ask: "Why did someone with twenty years of experience driving buses do such an evil act?" The prosecutor at the trial said:
The driver pulled out from a lay-by 12 metres from the pedestrian crossing that already had been red for two-and-a-half seconds, continued accelerating towards the crossing which remained red. [CCTV] footage shows he did not slow down. He carried on over the stop line and drove head on into and over both Mr Keller and Mr Hicks narrowly missing a third pedestrian. The defendant simply did not see, or if he did, he did not register, both the victims at the pedestrian crossing.
And the idiot Judge William Kennedy's answer to why, was:
All those who drive: look in the mirror, tell me if you ever got to the end of the road and wondered what happened in the last 150 yards. Thank god in that 150 yards nothing dreadful happened. If anyone tells me that that’s never happened to them I will tell them I don’t believe them. A tragedy occurred inexplicable of proper decision.
i.e. "inexplicable behaviour" by the driver was the reason of the collision.

I often wonder if these people are just idiots or are so arrogant that they think we can just believe any idiocy that they say.

Dave Holladay, who is not an idiot, made these simple observations:

  • There are 27 (twentyseven!!!) bus routes stopping on this stretch of road
  • The speed limit is 30mph
  • The bus stop is only 15 metres from the pedestrian crossing
  • Bus drivers at the head of the bus stop have to pull out to progress; in other words, the driver instead of looking ahead to the pedestrian crossing, has to look to his side mirror to make sure no vehicle is coming at 30mph.

Suddenly we have a likely explanation of what happened; the "inexplicable behaviour" is simply due to the fact that bus drivers are tasked to look ahead for vulnerable pedestrians and at the same time look to the side mirror for oncoming traffic from behind. Most of the time, a human being can do it; but it is totally reasonable to expect an occasional failure, when a driver looks ahead, sees a green light and then spends too much time looking at the side mirror and fails to register that the light ahead has changed.

It is an error which should not be a death sentence for two people and a jail sentence for another.

The real error is designing what is basically a bus garage in the middle of a shopping centre, allowing vehicle to drive at 30mph and having conflicts of sight for drivers of buses.

Those are the errors which should be punished with jail sentences. 

David Holladay makes these simple recommendations:
  • 10mph speed limit (as in all bus depots)
  • zebra crossing (so drivers don’t rely on the lights)
  • bus stops should run straight to the road rather than be angled away from the pedestrian crossing (as is the case in the opposite direction)
In the two years prior to the killing of Keller and Hicks, there were five other collision at that crossing and yet Cllr Robert Benham, cabinet member for StreetCare, denied road design played a part in the deaths.

He should be the one serving time; as Tom Kearney said: They got the wrong guy

Sunday, 16 November 2014

National Funeral For The Unknown Victim Of Traffic Violence 15.11.14

Video by DrMorocho

Here is the speech by Tom Kearney:
I shouldn't be here today.

When the ambulance pitched up 27 minutes after a 15 ton TfL bus hit me in the head & chest on Oxford Street, I had no pulse from the bleeding out of my ears and mouth and I wasn't breathing through my two collapsed lungs.
The police had reported me as a fatal.
I shouldn't be here today. This could have been my funeral too.
But I am just one of thousands here today protesting the lethal conditions for pedestrians and cyclists all across the United Kingdom.
But I am just one of thousands of people who've been hit by a vehicle on Europe's Busiest Shopping Street since the new century began.
But I am just one of thousands of cyclists and pedestrians who've been killed or seriously-injured from a collision with a TfL bus since Boris Johnson became Chairman of Transport for London.
And I am just one of millions on this planet who’ve been killed or seriously-injured as a result of our species' addiction to the motor vehicle in the past decade.
We are not alone today.
There are countless lives who we honour, remember and evoke today who can only be here in spirit.
Those who've already passed ahead of us…taken unjustly from the road on which we're all travelling together.
We've lost fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, sons, daughters, grandparents, friends and lovers.
People we loved or liked, knew or just knew of, respected or just spent a nice time with have become:
Unused numbers on our mobile phones that we can't bear to delete
Empty places at the dinner table sadly noticed every day
or a visceral-but-fleeting memory evoked by a song, a smell, a photograph, or an anniversary.
And, having myself been taken to the end of road we're all travelling on by an Oxford Street Bus five years ago at Christmastime, I found that my spirits only asked me:
"Why are you here? There's so much more that needs to be done where we come from.
Remember us...because we'll see each other again.
Remember making it better"
And that's the thought I woke up to when I emerged from my near death-coma in the new year.
Boris, you can’t ignore us. We’re not dead.
You can see us.
You can hear us.
You can remember us.
Stop the Killing.
Enough said.

Friday, 31 October 2014

If the Coroner refuses to issue a PFD, we will

"Sub-standard" "Extremely poor" "Takes no account of human nature" "Effectively works as uncontrolled crossing"

This how PC Simon Wickenden described the crossing in front of Euston Station where Peter van de Bulk was killed by a bus.

Wickenden was speaking at the Coroner's Inquest held on 28.10.14.

As we described shortly after the killing, the traffic signals are completely dysfunctional. The cycle time is 96 seconds, of which the green man is on only for six seconds (there is an additional "black out" period of 12 seconds). This scandalous disrespect for people who walk is aggravated by the fact that only buses are allowed to use this road, and there is less than one bus a minute driving here. This means that in front of a mainline train station pedestrians are supposed to wait for 78 seconds just to let one bus (or possibly two) through.

The obvious result is that NO ONE waits at red.

Wickenden completed a thorough study of the speed of the buses as they pass the pedestrian crossing. There is a large 10mph sign painted on the ground and yet 66% of drivers were recorded at higher speeds with 15% driving at more than 16mph. As a result of this survey, Camden Council has narrowed the carriageway, to slow down bus movements.

The new paving shows the width restriction. Notice that as the lights are turning green for the bus, there are four pedestrians crossing or starting to cross in front of it. Picture by Dave Holladay

Wickenden has not yet carried out a study to see whether this intervention has had any effect

The inquest was marred by amateurism, typical of Coroners Courts. For instance, in spite of the bus driver admitting that he was late on his schedule, the Coroner did not ask any questions about the pressure he had been in to complete his route; as Tom Kearney has described in his blog, this factor greatly affects the standards of driving of bus drivers. The bus driver had waited nine seconds in the middle of the carriageway before turning; as soon as a taxi coming the opposite direction had passed he made his turn. The Coroner did not ask how big a gap was there between the taxi and the next vehicle. We have seen this before so many times: a bus driver, bullied by a controller to finish his route on time (otherwise their managers lose their performance bonuses) makes a risky manouvre at inappropriate speed and enters an area where many pedestrians are crossing the street and drives through with no consideration to their safety. This btw is exactly how my father was killed by a TfL bus.

The Coroner has in his pocket a Yellow Card. He can issue a Prevention of Future Death report, asking the relevant Transport Authority to make appropriate changes to reduce the risk of future deaths. The risk of future deaths does not have to be strictly related to the death examined in the Inquest: all is necessary is for the Coroner to discover, through the process of the Inquest, a situation which creates undue fatal risks to members of the public.

Coroner William Dolman refused to issue a PFD report saying as an excuse that "It was an one-off". This is reprehensible for two reasons:

  1. It is contrary of the rationale for PFDs. The P stands for Prevention; we don't have to see many deaths before fixing dangerous infrastructure. Wickenden has clearly shown that the signal phasing remains "sub-standard" and needs to be changed. The present phasing is dangerous and can lead to further deaths. The change needs to occur before Wickenden's warning is confirmed by another tragedy
  2. Dolman has been told that 66% of bus drivers exceed the speed limit at this junction. It is rational to think that this is not a one-off, but that bus drivers ignore many speed restrictions, especially the ones of 20mph and below. Therefore Dolman should have issued a PFD to TfL to investigate this widespread disregard of speed limits by the contractors it regulates and take appropriate action
This is a scandalous dereliction of duty and shame on Coroner Dolman. A young person has lost his life and no lessons have been learned.

BTW, it is NOT a one-off. This is a tweet by Dave Holladay who went to see the crossing after the Inquest.

Peter van de Bulk was a Transport for London employee. I am forwarding this blog to Isabel Dedring, Deputy Mayor for Transport. It is a formal request

  1. to change the phasing of the lights at this junction, so that pedestrians do not have to wait more than twenty seconds
  2. to carry out a thorough investigation of the speed of buses in areas where the limits are 20mph or lower, and especially near train stations and bus depots
  3. to carry out measures to ensure that contracting companies have clear systems to prevent speeding.
She owes this to the family of one of her colleagues, to all the victims of buses and to all Londoners.

Friday, 17 October 2014

National Funeral For The Unknown Victim Of Traffic Violence

15th November 2014.


Organised by Stop the Killing

Here are their Ten Demands:
1. Stop the Killing of Children - set up national multi-billion pound programme to convert residential communities across Britain into living-street Home Zones to abolish dangerous rat-runs.

2. Stop the Killing of Pedestrians - establish a national programme to fund pedestrianisation of our city and town centres, including the nation’s high-street – Oxford Street.

3. Stop the Killing of Pensioners from excessive speed - introduce and enforce speed limit of 20 mph on all urban roads, 40 mph on rural roads/lanes and 60 mph on all other trunk roads.

4. Stop the Killing of Cyclists - invest £15 billion in a National Segregated Cycle Network over the next 5 years. 

5. Stop the Killing by HGVs - ban trucks with blind spots by making safety equipment mandatory and strictly enforce current truck-safety regulations to reduce levels of illegally dangerous trucks down from estimated 30% to less than 1%.

6. Stop the Killing without liability – introduce a presumed civil liability law on behalf of vehicular traffic when they kill or seriously injure vulnerable road-users, where there is no evidence blaming the victim.

7. Stop the Killing from Lung, Heart and other Diseases caused by vehicular pollutants - make it mandatory for particulate filters that meet latest EU emission standards to be fitted to all existing buses, lorries and taxis. 

8. Stop the Killing at Junctions - introduce pedestrian crossing times long enough for elderly disabled to cross. Legalise filtered junction crossings by cyclists with strict legal priority for pedestrians and carry out urgent programme of physically protected left-hand turns for cyclists.

9. Stop the Killing from CO2 emissions from impacts of the climate crisis - all transport fuels to be from environmentally-sustainable renewable sources within 10 years.

10. Focus on Life! Transport governance must make safety and quality of life the top priority. Reform all council transport departments, the Department of Transport and Transport for London into Cycling, Walking and Transport Departments with formal pedestrian and cyclist representation.

Friday, 8 August 2014

Taxis send to hospital or morgue two people a week

See below the figures released by TfL.

Some comments:

1. No evidence of any improvement in the figures in past five years
2. TfL is the regulator of the 75,000 drivers. TfL does not have specific reduction targets for the KSIs from the drivers it regulates.
3. TfL has a very amateurish way to investigate allegations of dangerous driving by its regulated drivers. Essentially it sends out a letter to the driver to "remind him [or her] of the standards of driving and behaviour that we expected our licensed taxi and private hire drivers to demonstrate at all times."
4. Good luck to anyone attempting to report an incident of bad driving to the Police. Their RoadSafe website is typical British diversionary tactics "show you are doing something, while actually doing nothing"

==> Dangerous driving by taxi drivers is an unpoliced crime, allowed to fester on our streets, destroying the quality of life of all citizens.

P.S. Thanks to Tom Kearney for forcing out the data.

KSIs for taxis and private hire vehicles
Question No: 2014/2349
Darren Johnson
Can you provide statistics regarding the number of deaths and injuries to a) drivers b) passengers c) pedestrians and d) cyclists as a result of road collisions involving London taxis for each of the the last 5 years, up to the latest date for which figures are available?
Written response from the Mayor
The tables below provide figures for personal injury collisions that occurred on the public highway, reported by the police in accordance with the STATS19 national reporting system, for the five-year period 2009 to 2013.  STATS19 reports all injury collisions, including those involving a ‘taxi or private hire’ vehicle, as a single category rather than for ‘London taxis’ only. 
Over the same period, the number of licensed taxis and private hire vehicles in London has increased by 6 per cent, from 71,627 to 75,621. The number of licensed taxi drivers and taxis are at the highest level on record.
TfL will publish quarterly provisional STATS19 figures throughout the year, including those for ‘taxi or private hire’ vehicles.  This will be available by late summer on the TfL website at:
TfL is continuing its work to raise awareness of cycle safety with taxi and private hire drivers and to reduce the number of collisions involving taxis or private hire vehicles with cyclists. Work has also been done to remind passengers to look out for cyclists when getting out of a taxi or private hire vehicle in order to reduce ‘doorings’ and collisions between cyclists and taxi/private hire passengers. New proposals to improve cycle safety around taxis and private hire vehicles are included in the draft Cycle Safety Action Plan, on which I am seeking public feedback. I welcome suggestions on how we can make cycling in London even safer.
The consultation is available here:

Tuesday, 22 July 2014

Shame on you

There are only losers in war.

Here is a young Palestinian:

Such a young life, snuffed out in a few seconds.

In the past few days, four young people were robbed of their lives through violence on the killing fields of London:

Watch the video and you begin to feel what it is like to die too early, what it feels to watch someone being killed, what it feels having a loved one being robbed of his life.

And similar to the devastation in Gaza, London has been brutalised by authorities who embrace traffic violence against the welfare of ordinary citizens:
  • Children cannot ride safely to school
  • Pensioners don't have sufficient time to cross the streets
  • Thousands killed by the smog
  • And pervasive noise and ugliness.

Shame on you, Netanyahu.

Shame on you, Hamas.

Shame on you, Boris Johnson, for prioritising "smoothing traffic flow".

Shame on you, Peter Hendy and Leon Daniels for covering up the killings by Transport for London.

Shame on you, Metropolitan Police, for persistently siding with the violent people.

Shame on you, Transport Industry, for insisting on driving blind killing machines.

Shame on you, HSE, for refusing to investigate professional killers.

Shame on you, British Justice System, for refusing properly to prosecute and ban the violent people.

Shame on you, Department for Transport, for treating walking and cycling as second class.

These people are waging a war against us.

Vision Zero London will shame them to oblivion, until peace reigns on our streets.